The plan aimed at readying Collier County students for college and careers will have to be implemented without the boost of a multimillion dollar grant from the federal government.
The Collier County School District was not among 16 winners of the U.S. Department of Education's district-level Race to the Top competition, worth a shared total of $400 million in grants. Still, Chief Instructional Officer Beth Thompson said the time spent writing and planning for the grant means the district is "ready to go" the next time a grant opportunity arises.
"That's a positive out of a huge disappointment," she said.
District officials had hoped to use the grant to offset the costs of its College and Career Pathways Plan, which seeks to help students find a path for after high school graduation and expands opportunities over a three-year period.
Approved by the board in September, the plan is comprised of seven goals, including developing career academies, creating opportunities for workforce and college preparation skills and increasing student interest in, exploration of and preparation to make career choices. Collier schools Superintendent Kamela Patton has said ensuring all students graduate with a plan is her top goal, and the plan is aimed at addressing that.
The impact of the plan goes beyond students, though, said Christy Kutz, the district's executive director of secondary programs.
"At the end of the day, the benefit is to our community," she said.
Thompson said the plan will involve costs, but the exact amount is not known. Some components are virtually cost-free, such as the district-wide career fair planned for January; others, such as industry certifications, come at a price.
Parts of the plan are already being implemented, while others will be put into place later in the three-year span. Officials didn't put a dollar figure on each piece of the plan, Thompson said.
The College and Career Pathways plan was the "glue" of the district's Race to the Top application, Thompson told board members during a September workshop. Applications were due in November.
Of 372 districts that applied for the grant, Collier ranked No. 244 based on the number of points it earned from peer reviewers. The district scored 119 points on the 210-point scale.
Kutz said she "absolutely" expects more grant opportunities to become available.
"This is very much a nationwide focus," she said of college and career readiness.