Purpose of Straight A Fund
570 applications representing approximately 720 organizations made grant requests totaling $760 million. Of these, 24 grant applicants received a total of $88.6 million ($11.4 million set aside for transportation and local initiatives). These competitively funded projects involved more than 150 school districts and partnering organizations.
339 applications representing 662 organizations made grant requests totaling more than $233 million. Of these, 37 grant applicants received a total of $144.6 million ($5.4 million set aside for transportation and local initiatives). These competitively funded projects involved more than 200 school districts and partnering organizations and will affect more than 400,000 students.
Adding these together, 350 school districts and partnering organizations are being impacted by Ohio’s Straight A Fund.
With the introduction of his biennial budget proposal for FY14 and FY15, Gov. John Kasich proposed a Straight A Fund to help Ohio schools launch creative new ideas for improving education. This injection of ideas and new practices is intended to transform our state’s education system into one that meets the unique needs of every student in every classroom.
To help achieve that, Ohio’s Straight A Fund supports ideas from local educators that promote academic achievement and economic efficiencies within schools and districts. Educators who have innovative, workable ideas that could advance student learning, achieve significant funding reductions, reduce administrative overhead - or all three - now enjoy the opportunity to receive money to jumpstart the transformation they envision. Ohio’s biennial education budget dedicated $100 million in FY14 and $150 million in FY15, $15 million in FY16 and $15 million FY17 for the Straight A Fund to provide grants to:
City, local, exempted village, joint vocational school districts;
Individual school buildings;
Educational service centers;
College-preparatory boarding schools;
Education consortia (representing a partnership among city, local, exempted village, school buildings, community schools, or STEM schools);
Institutions of higher education; and
Private entities partnering with one or more of the entities listed above.
Individual applicants can apply for grants up to $1 million dollars and consortium grants can apply for grants up to $15 million dollars. The Straight A Fund Governing Board has indicated a preference for individual and consortium grants under $1 million dollars. Fiscal Year 2016 funds must be budgeted to be spent by June 30, 2017. Applicants may select one of the following goals:
Increased student achievement;
A spending reduction in the five-year forecast or positive performance on other fiscal measures established by the Straight A Fund Governing Board;
Greater share of resources directed into the classroom; and
Use of a shared services delivery model that demonstrates increased efficiency and effectiveness, long-term sustainability and scalability.
The Selection Process
The Straight A Fund review process is rigorous and impartial to ensure that the best proposals are funded. A nine-member Governing Board oversees the grant process.
The Straight A Fund uses criteria established by the Department of Administrative Services to select grant application reviewers and scorers. These include standard practices for determining potential conflicts of interest in each review. The scorers receive extensive training on how to evaluate each proposal.
Scorers independently screen each grant proposal to determine its financial sustainability. Once reviewers have determined that a proposed program is sustainable, additional scorers independently evaluate the program’s merits.
At the Governing Board’s direction, a separate group of grant advisors review and recommend the top applicants. Grant advisors also compare the expected cost savings to the cost of sustaining the grant over five years.
The grant advisors then list the proposals in rank order—with districts’ names removed—for final consideration by the Governing Board. As required by state law, the board’s selections then go to the Ohio Controlling Board for final approval.
Straight A Vision for the Future
Ohio’s Straight A fund introduced an important concept in education by requiring that funded projects be sustainable. Districts must be financially able to maintain their projects over five years, either through program cost efficiency or by eliminating other, unneeded or unsuccessful programs or processes. The Ohio Department of Education will continue to evaluate whether this is occurring.
The department also will track the direct academic impact of each project and ways in which projects may have created ripples that alter the means for delivering instruction in other areas. For example, early evidence suggests that once technology becomes available for one intended purpose, it spurs other uses. We also have seen first-round projects replicated in the second round of grant applications. Some projects have forged new relationships between education and business partners.
Straight A Fund administrators will gather information about how the projects stimulate further changes within schools and communities. As we move forward, we will continue to monitor what each project accomplishes.
Last Modified: 10/2/2015 2:53:50 PM