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FD school board seeks to raise money

Members sign on to federal grant program, approve cellular phone tower agreement

January 12, 2010
By IAN SCHMIT Messenger staff writer

The Fort Dodge school board discussed ways to raise some cash in the wake of state budget cuts at its Monday evening board meeting.

The board has signed on with the state of Iowa in applying for a federal Race to the Top grant. The grant is a competitive process that aims to reform state education and move towards a competency-based education system. Only a few states are expected to win, according to the application information.

If Iowa wins a grant, half of the money would be distributed among participating districts. By participating in the program, the Fort Dodge Community School District stands to gain up to $1 million, according to Superintendent Linda Brock.

However, the district does have some concerns with the program, including a rigid reporting and assessment system and evaluations of teachers and administrators tied to student test scores. How the entire program will work is still not completely understood, Brock said.

"There really hasn't been a large time line to understand the plan or talk about it," said Brock.

The deadline for applying for the program is Thursday.

"The financial situation of schools is such that if they dangle the money in front of you, they've got you. It's kind of an unfortunate situation to be in, but it's the reality. We can turn it down, but we still have to do most of (the requirements) anyway," said board member Jerry Schnurr, referring to the benchmarks needed to meet the Iowa CORE curriculum that are similar to the program.

The board also took another measure to increase cash flow to the district by approving a wireless communication monopole project on the Dodger Stadium property.

While negotiations with the communications company, Webster-Calhoun Cooperative Telephone Association, are still under way, the district could receive between $750 and $2,000 every month with a lease agreement, according to Director of Operations Chris Darling.

Darling said the pole would take up an area of 20-by-25 feet and be neighbor-friendly and camouflaged. He said the project could take up to two years to complete.

Contact Ian Schmit at (515) 573-2141 or



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