Galt Joint Union Elementary School District has been awarded $10 million in Race to the Top money — one of only 16 applicants nationwide to be given such funding.
The districts will share nearly $400 million to support locally developed plans to improve student achievement and teacher effectiveness.
Galt's portion is related to the number of students the program will serve. It has approximately 3,900 students.
Galt elementary, where the award will be spread out over four years, plans to use its funding for training stipends, supplies, equipment and services contracts, according to Superintendent Karen Schauer.
"I'm so, so excited about the news," she said. "This is wonderful for our school system and community of Galt. I'm so proud."
School board president John Gordon said Schauer, along with teachers and other district staff, should be commended for their dedication in focusing on children.
"They have been dedicated in light of furloughs. Everyone remains focused on the child and their learning outcomes," he said. "Now we have an opportunity to really elevate what we want to do here to make our district even better."
The money will personalize learning for the district's diverse population of students, which includes a large number of English-language learners, special education and low-income students. This will allow educators to find the best way to teach each child, Schauer said.
The program outlined by the district in its application includes learning centers at school libraries and a plan of continued improvement through evaluations of teachers, principals and the superintendent.
Each learning center — part of a network to be dubbed Bright Futures Learning Centers — would feature electronic as well as traditional resources. Schauer said the centers would be open into the evening to accommodate families.
The new centers also would likely save the libraries, which have been kept open only by community fundraisers since the district slashed funding due to budget cuts. The district's typical annual budget is about $29 million.
Some of what the district proposed in its 400-plus-page application was already in the works, including a new teacher evaluation system being piloted this year.
And Galt has an academic track record of improvement — another requirement of the grant. The district has steadily improved its standardized test scores over the last five years, and each of its six schools has an individual Academic Performance Index score above the 800 target set by the state.
The school district is the only one in the area to have applied for the federal funding. There were just four California semi-finalists.
"This is a testament of the unwavering focus and commitment of our entire district while serving the children attending our schools," Gordon said. "We wouldn't be having this conversation without Superintendent Schauer making some tough and unpopular decisions that she felt were in the best interest of our children's education. She assembled an incredible network of people to bring this proposal to life."
Gordon remembers coming across the grant announcement in Sen. Barbara Boxer's newsletter over the summer. When he mentioned it to Schauer over the phone, he asked, "Why not Galt?" he said Tuesday.
"After five years of budget roller coasters, I think we're overdue for a bit of good news," he said.
The winning applicants, among the 372 applications the Department of Education received last month, were evaluated and scored by independent peer reviewers.
Applicants from all districts were invited to demonstrate how they can personalize education for all students, and provide school leaders and teachers with tools that help them best meet their students' needs, according to the Department of Education.
In developing their plans, districts collaborated with educators, parents, and both public and private organizational leaders to ensure their vision was supported by key community stakeholders.
Race to the Top, which launched in 2009, has inspired dramatic education reform nationwide, leading 45 states and the District of Columbia to pursue higher collegeand career-ready standards, data-driven decision making, greater support for teachers and leaders and turnaround interventions in low-performing schools.
The Sacramento Bee contributed to this report.