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Race to the Top funds coming in December
Gainesville, Hall systems plan to use money for personnel
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Georgia’s Race to the Top funds are expected to enter the state by mid-December, according to state education official Erin Hames.

Hames told the Georgia school board last week that the 26 districts that joined the state’s application for the federal funding, including Gainesville City Schools and Hall County Schools, are working on plans that will be sent to the U.S. Department of Education this month. Once those are approved, about $400 million will flow into the state, Hames said.

Gainesville Superintendent Merrianne Dyer said the date met the district’s expectation, and school officials are working closely with the state coordinator.

Gainesville will be using the funds primarily in two areas: personnel and instructional technology.

“We are seriously understaffed in technology to support schools,” Dyer said. “We’re not using the money for any additional specialty programs but to support our teachers in having what they need in the classroom.”

Hall County officials have stated they would direct the funds toward personnel hires.

In August, Georgia was named as one of 10 winners for the second round of the federal Race to the Top grant competition for school reform. The state plans to spread the $400 million to improve schools in the 26 participating districts.

The state has 180 school districts, but the two dozen that signed onto the application represent more than 40 percent of students in the state.

The grants aim to encourage states to take up innovative education reform to help raise student achievement and improve graduation rates.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.