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Department of Education Awaits MOUs from Local School Districts This Week
January 04, 2010

LANSING – The Michigan Department of Education (MDE) is awaiting the arrival later this week of Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) from local school districts to complete the state’s federal Race To The Top application.

Local districts must have MOUs, showing their support of the state’s Race To The Top application, to their intermediate school districts no later than Thursday, January 7. For local school board meetings that will occur on January 7, MDE has allowed the direct submission of the MOU by Friday, January 8.

Statewide teacher union organizations have expressed concern over the short timeline that local school boards, superintendents, and union presidents have to sign the MOU.

The timeline for school districts to fully sign and submit the MOUs to the state by Friday has been dictated by the U.S. Department of Education deadline; the recent passage of the state legislation deemed necessary for the Race To The Top application; and the need to have the state application ready for the State Board of Education to review by its meeting next Tuesday.

State Board of Education President Kathleen N. Straus is a co-signer on the Race To The Top application, and a presentation of the state application to the full State Board is scheduled at the Tuesday meeting. The application also has to be signed by Governor Jennifer M. Granholm and state Superintendent of Public Instruction Mike Flanagan.

“We were hoping to get an extension from the federal government, but were not able to get that,” Flanagan said.  “I understand that everyone is under tight timelines here.”

“If I were a local superintendent again, I strongly would be urging my local school board and union presidents to sign the MOU because I realize what is at stake here,” he added. “But I fully respect that this is a local decision whether they want to participate or not.”

With the MOUs in by this Friday, Michigan Department of Education staff will have only Saturday, Sunday, and Monday to complete the application in time for the Tuesday State Board meeting.

The state needs the signed MOUs before the Race To The Top application can be finalized because it needs to develop the application’s budget, part of which is contingent on the number of districts participating. Developing a comprehensive Race To The Top budget is key to the application, Flanagan noted.

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