Secretary Ron Tomalis says he was disappointed only 26 of the 141 lowest performing schools got federal grant money for which they were eligible.
But Tom Gentzel, executive director of the Pennsylvania School Boards Association, says the application process takes time and staff–things in short supply at many schools, especially among the smaller, rural districts. “It’s not like you have districts that are just sort of top-heavy with people that are just sitting around waiting around to do paper work,” said Gentzel. “In fact, we’ve seen furloughs and cutbacks in programs and staffing, so there’s a lot of moving parts to this issue. It’s not just simply whether the district is interested.” A spokesman for the education department says some schools looked to a third party for help on their grant applications.
Gentzel says not only does that cost money some districts may not have, but it also reveals that those schools don’t have the staff they need to commit to grant proposals.