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District finalist for grant
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Forsyth County News
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The Forsyth County school system learned Thursday that it could receive a nearly $5 million federal grant.

According to reports from the local system and the U.S. Department of Education, the system is one of 49 finalists to potentially receive funding through the Investing in Innovation, or i3, program.

Some 1,700 applications from across the nation were received. Forsyth County Schools is the lone finalist from Georgia.

In a statement, Superintendent Buster Evans called the possible grant “the opportunity of the decade.”

“This is truly a potential grand slam for our system,” he said. “... As evidenced by the quality of this application against nearly 1,700 applicants, this reflects some of the most brilliant work possible by a team of stellar school leaders.”

Part of a $10 billion investment in school reform through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the i3 program seeks to support local school programs working to “close the achievement gap” among struggling students, according to reports.

Forsyth’s program, Engage ME-PLEASE, is up for a $4.7 million grant. PLEASE stands for personalized learning experiences accelerate standards-based education.

If funded, the program would use Forsyth’s Infinite Campus online student data management system to provide struggling students individualized paths for learning.

Those paths could involve daily assessments, allowing teachers frequent and immediate data relating to a student’s individual progress.

In turn, teachers could then provide immediate feedback and activities for the student’s use to improve skills.

By using the Infinite Campus system, the learning paths could also be viewed by parents and school leaders.

According to reports, the ultimate goals of the program are to raise student achievement and growth; decrease overall dropout rates; and increase graduation rates, especially among high-needs students.

To be selected for the grant, the school system must provide proof of a 20 percent match from the private sector by Sept. 8.

School system spokeswoman Jennifer Caracciolo said that match has already been secured from Infinite Campus.

She said the system will next go through a review process with the U.S. Department of Education, looking at budget, eligibility and matching document issues.

She said those reviews are scheduled to begin in early September, and will include conference calls with i3 team members.

“We’ll know more by late September,” she said.

If awarded, the grant would be for five years.