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Education digest: Steps toward closing Options charter school; Race to the Top funds

the district
Charter board takes step to close Options

The D.C. Public Charter School Board voted unanimously last week to take the first step toward closing Options Public Charter School, citing a “pattern of fiscal mismanagement” that has triggered a civil lawsuit and a criminal investigation.

The board voted to begin charter revocation proceedings over the objections of parents and Options’s court-appointed receiver, who argued that the school is unique in its ability to serve some of the city’s most troubled students, most of whom have emotional or learning disabilities or have been kicked out of other schools.

“The challenges that these students face are difficult to overstate,” Josh Kern, the receiver who has been overseeing the school since October, told the board. “It is a simple statement of fact that, for many students at Options, the school is their educational option of last resort.”

Options serves nearly 400 students, many of whom would probably end up attending traditional D.C. public schools should Options close, according to the charter board’s staff.

The board has yet to decide when Options would close, but it has been clear that the school will remain open at least until the end of this school year.

— Emma Brown

the nation
Five districts win Race to the Top funds

Five school districts won grants ranging from $10 million to
$30 million as part of Race to the Top, the Obama administration’s competition for K-12 education, the Education Department announced last week.

School districts in South Carolina, Mississippi, Texas, Kentucky and Arkansas won the grants this year.

They were chosen by federal officials from among more than 200 applications and were selected because they had created the best plans to personalize learning, department officials said.

Since 2009, the government has awarded more than $4 billion in such grants.

— Lyndsey Layton

$1.3 million

The salary, benefits, deferred compensation and other pay American University President Cornelius M. “Neil” Kerwin earned in 2011, according to a Chronicle of Higher Education annual survey, making him the highest-paid leader of a private college or university in the Washington region.

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