East St. Louis School District finalist for multi-million dollar - KMOV.com

East St. Louis School District finalist for multi-million dollar grant

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By John Bailey By John Bailey

(KMOV.com) -- The East St. Louis School District has been named a finalist for a chance to receive millions of dollars in federal funding.  

The money would be awarded by Race to the Top, a federal program to help public schools prepare students of all ages for college and a career.

If the district wins, it would be in line to receive about $23 million dollars; a much-needed cash injection as it is running a $5 million deficit in 2014.  

But parents question whether the district can handle the financial responsibility if it wins.

“That would be my main concern, whether or not they apply the funding where it’s supposed to go as opposed to, you know, losing the money,” said East St. Louis School District parent Renita Crain.

Crain’s concern, and the concern of those who agree with her, comes from a history of questionable spending by officials.

In response to apprehension from residents, Assistant Superintendent Beth Sheppard told News 4 how the district would spend the money.

“100 percent of our students are qualified for free or reduced lunch,” she said. “They have many social and emotional needs that are not met.”

Sheppard says they want to use the funding to hire instructional coaches to work with teachers, counselors, social workers and invest more in after school programs.

It’s a wish list the district simply can’t afford on its own.

There are 31 school districts across the country in the finals.  The only other from Illinois or Missouri is Chicago Public Dchools.

Several typically get funding. Winners will be announced later in December.  

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