Missouri not yet applying for federal grants

Thursday, September 17, 2009 | 12:01 a.m. CDT

JEFFERSON CITY — The state is declining to apply for $100 million in federal grants, Missouri's education commissioner said Wednesday.

In her first time speaking before the Joint Committee on Education, Chris Nicastro shared with lawmakers her goals for Missouri public education. The commissioner said participating in the national competition for $4.3 billion in Race to the Top funding is a priority, but it will not compete for the first-phase funds.

There are two application dates for the federal funds. Nicastro has recommended the state not apply for the first phase in December.

Nicastro said Missouri has not initiated a process for developing an application and the Department of Education estimates it would take 680 hours to complete it.

"I don't believe that we can put together a viable application by Dec. 1," the commissioner said.

This drew heat from state Sen. Scott Rupp, R-Wentzville, a member of the committee.

"I'm hearing that we're just not going to apply because nobody's done the work," he said.

The commissioner responded by saying specific regulations for the application will not be published until October. She also said other states, particularly those that received funds from other foundations, had funding to back their preparation efforts.

Rupp expressed skepticism that other states had more time to prepare.

"If you said that final rules will be done in October, that leads me to believe we're all in the same boat," he said.

According to the application for the Race to the Top Grant, those states that apply to the first phase and receive the awards are ineligible for the second phase. Sstates that apply to the first phase and are not granted money, however, are still eligible to receive funding based on the second-phase application.

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