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EDITORIAL: Race to the Top distribution not ideal

The Remsenburg-Speonk school district has been asked to help revolutionize education by the Race to the Top, a $4.35-billion federal program created by the Obama administration as part of the Recovery Act. To do so, it has been granted $2,263 - over four years.

Remsenburg-Speonk isn't alone. Forty-seven Long Island school districts have been awarded sums of less than $25,000.

That's because half of the funds given to each state awarded Race to the Top money is allocated based on federal poverty formulas related to free or reduced-price lunches. In 2009, Remsenburg-Speonk had four students eligible out of 186.

Giving nearly every district a crumb quiets districts that could otherwise get nothing, but it's wasteful and ineffective.

Brentwood's $867,637 may foster innovation, and the same can likely be said for nearly two dozen Long Island districts receiving more than $100,000 each. Additional funds disbursed in grant form may help, as could funding spent at the state level.

But the crumbs given to the least needy districts will feed no one, unless they are combined.

It's allowed. Recipients can pool funds, and the ones receiving tiny grants should. Even those getting more should consider teaming up to share consultants, services and staff.

And in the future, money should be disbursed via a thoughtful formula designed to create the most meaningful programs, not one designed to mollify the most voters. hN