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‘Top’ award gives Lindsay a national voice

‘Top’ award gives Lindsay a national voice

Lindsay Unified School District was propelled into national headlines after being awarded $10 million through the Race To The Top federal education funding program last year. This year, LUSD may get a byline in rewriting the national education standards.

Superintendent Tom Rooney said LUSD is now in the unique position of influencing curriculum at a national level based on the success of its performance based system in Lindsay, and being awarded federal funding based on its plans to become experts and expand the system throughout the nation.

“Lindsay has a voice at the table of the national education discussion,” Rooney said.

Rooney said he and some of his administrators have received at least four offers to be among a select group of educators at national roundtable discussions about education framework and policy.

“These are discussions most school’s our size are not invited to and ones we were never invited to before,” Rooney said. “But we have not been distracted by the limlight. Our focus remains on the 4,100 students right here in Lindsay. The only way for this system to be successful is to zero in on our learners.”

Rooney said LUSD must file its implementation plan with the U.S. Department of Education for Race to the Top by April 8, 2013. In the meantime, Rooney said LUSD has already been working hard to perfect the plan and move it forward.

On Jan. 24, LUSD posted three job openings for positions in its Curriculum and Instruction Department. Rooney said the department has nearly doubled in size in preparation for the application deadline. He said those staff members will work with teachers, called learning facilitators, to build detailed lesson plans for the entire year and not on a week-by-week or month-by-month basis.

“The whole idea is that learners learn at different rates. We want to ensure there are lessons plans ready for those students who will want to jump ahead.”

Rooney said his staff has already created a rough draft of the digital platform which will be used to record LUSD’s expertise in the performance based system, refine it, and then release it to other districts interested in implementing the system. The digitial platform was one of the key components of LUSD’s successful Race To the Top funding application.

Next month, Rooney said teachers, administrators and parents from at least three school districts will tour LUSD schools to see the performance based system first hand. They will join the handful of schools who have already visited Lindsay since it filed its application for Race To The Top during the spring of 2012.

Rooney said one board member remarked, “In just a few years, we will see the fingerprint of LUSD in school districts all across the country.”

“That’s pretty exciting when you think about it in those terms,” Rooney said.

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