Horry County Schools, consortium miss out on federal grant

Horry County Schools officials learned Tuesday that its application was not selected for a federal Race to the Top-District grant, which initially could have brought about $2.5 million to aid some area schools.

The group was seeking the top award of $40 million for a four-year period. Ten schools in the district already had been proposed to benefit from the grant, and funds would have helped individualize instruction and would have provided digital tools, digital content and professional development.

“We were so hopeful about the possibilities the Race to the Top-District grant held for our district; therefore, learning that we were not selected was disappointing,” said HCS Superintendent Cindy Elsberry in an email. “We continue to be committed, however, to securing the tools and content needed to provide personalized learning opportunities for our students. Digital tools will help us provide blended learning opportunities that will accelerate the learning our students need to be college and career ready.”

HCS applied in October as part of a seven-member consortium, which included districts from across the country and was a subset of the Digital Promise League of Innovative Schools Consortium. In November, Digital Promise was named one of 61 finalists out of 372 applications for the grant.

Digital Promise is a bipartisan public-private partnership that was chartered by Congress to spur innovation in education. The League of Innovative Schools is an alliance of 28 school districts in 18 states.

Teal Harding, HCS spokeswoman, said the process has sparked important conversations about innovative ways to improve student achievement.

“We are inspired that we made it to the final rounds,” said Harding, adding that district officials will advance their ideas to the degrees they can with the resources they have available. “This competitive grants experience places us in a better position to seek additional grant opportunities.”