The U.S. Department of Education (ED) announced that application material is now available for interested Local Education Agencies (LEAs) or a consortium of LEAs that would like to be in the running for the Race to the Top- District competition, the $400 million district-level program which will offer 15 to 25 four-year awards ranging from $5 million to $40 million.

Applicants must inform ED on their intent to apply by August 30, 2012-- a tight turn around for many districts interested in this new program. Final applications are due by October 30, and money must be distributed to districts by the end of December.

In an effort to persuade larger districts to apply, maximum awards, which are dependent on the number of students served, are now $40 million. In draft guidelines released by ED in May, maximum awards were set at $25 million.

Applicants are required to implement teacher, principal and superintendent evaluations by the 2014-15 school year.

Rural districts can apply in a consortium with neighboring LEAs if 2,000 students are served, or at least 10 LEAs apply together.

Awards will be granted to top applications in different categories including rural and non-rural LEAs along with LEAs in states that received Race to the Top (RTTT) grants, and LEAs that are not in states awarded RTTT grants.

Details on the application deadlines and requirements can be found on the U.S. Department of Education website here.

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