Connecticut won’t get federal stimulus dollars this round for school reform

Connecticut education officials will rewrite a massive school reform plan in a second attempt to win federal stimulus funds after failing to make a list of finalists Thursday in a state-by-state competition for the money.

The U.S. Department of Education listed 15 other states and the District of Columbia as finalists for their reform proposals in the first round of the Race to the Top competition.

In Race to the Top, the Obama administration is dangling more than $4.3 billion in incentives to spur education reforms. With state budgets suffering through the nation’s slumping economy, several states already have made aggressive efforts to compete for the money.

Connecticut was one of 40 states applying for a grant but had been considered a long shot, partly because existing laws and regulations governing charter schools and other reform measures may be considered too restrictive, some officials have said.

Winners of the first round of grants will be selected from the 16 finalists and announced in April. The finalists are: Colorado, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina and Tennessee.

In January, Connecticut submitted a wide-ranging 680-page application seeking $193 million over four years for an extensive reform agenda that included efforts to reshape public high schools, improve data collection on student progress, and bolster the quality of the teaching force.

The state plans to revise its application and submit it for a second round of grants to be awarded in September.