Wisconsin not finalist for Race to the Top program - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Wisconsin not finalist for Race to the Top program

MADISON (WKOW) --  Wisconsin is not among the finalists for more than $4.5 billion in federal education money under the Race to the Top program.

Wisconsin applied for up to $250-million dollars in federal stimulus money: money the state won't see.. this time around.

It was to an enthusiastic crowd, President Obama personally visited Madison in November, pushing Race to the Top.

Democrat representative Sondy Pope-Roberts says, "There was a clear message to me in that, you folks can qualify for this, we want you to qualify for this... yet we've failed to do the things necessary to qualify."

No word yet on why Wisconsin failed this test: Governor Doyle says one reason is the legislature's failure to give Milwaukee's mayor oversight of the city's struggling schools.

Among those hoping for funding, the Madison School District. No plans were made, but leaders say Race to the Top money could have aided the district's 4 year old kindergarten program slated to begin Fall of 2011.

Dr. Dan Nerad, Madison School District Superintendent, says, "The problems with 4 year told kindergarten are really in the first two years of implementation.. those are the financial challenges, so we have a plan to address that."

Also addressing the issue: state lawmakers. Top Democrats say they'd believed they'd taken critical steps necessary to compete. Republican lawmakers say, they're not surprised.

Pope-Roberts adds, "I'm looking at the end of this session, I'd like to do something sooner rather than later."

Republican Representative Brett Davis says, "There are so many things we could be doing.. and we're not. That's what's frustrating.. but that's why I wasn't surprised we didn't receive any of the money."

Nerad adds, "Now we just await word to see what the next steps are for the state, and for individual school districts."

Race to the Top funding isn't allocated toward current school funding woes, like Madison's 30-million dollar shortfall. Madison school leaders say it wasn't counted on for the district's four year old kindergarten program.

Legislators say they hope to pass some type of reform before this session ends in April, hoping Wisconsin will have a better chance to apply a second time in June.

Online Reporter: Teresa Mackin
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