The Associated Professional Educators of Louisiana issued an endorsement Monday of efforts by the Louisiana Department of Education and nearly two dozen parish school systems to seek federal Race to the Top funding. Statewide, Louisiana could snatch as much as $300 million in grants from the stimulus-funded program.

“A+PEL leaders believe that this opportunity to make positive policy changes for Louisiana should be seized. Unlike programs in the past, the R2T initiative encourages direct involvement of teachers and education leaders as details are addressed,” a Monday press releases reads in part.

Lafayette is one of 23 parishes identified by the state as seeking grant funding through R2T, which is designed to bolster at-risk schools and raise performance scores parishwide. Lafayette Parish School System officials estimate our portion of the R2T funds could be as high as $7 million. But like some other parishes, Lafayette has committed to the program with an opt-out clause in case it deems the R2T commitment burdensome or otherwise unsatisfactory.

In December, the Louisiana School Boards Association urged public school systems across the state to pass on R2T grants, warning that securing such funding could have long-term fiscal consequences, namely that when the federal funding runs out school systems could on the hook to continue funding programs at their own expense.

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