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Illinois loses out in "Race to the Top" competition

By Associated Press/Illinois Public Radio

Springfield, IL – The top education leader in Illinois is diappointed the state got shut out on federal money. But state schools Superintendent Christopher Koch says the reform agenda will proceed.

Illinois was a finalist twice for "Race to the Top" grants and hoped to get $400 million this time. But the U.S. Education Department named nine states and the District of Columbia as recipients in the final round of stimulus program funding.

Reforms paid for with the federal money must be continued with state funds. Koch says he doesn't know if Illinois' budget problems played a role in the state's loss.

Koch says Illinois isn't walking away from the concept but will move forward on a smaller scale.

"We're not going to be able to do it in any time frame like what we would have proposed. But there's still a lot of folks and a lot of assets in this state who care about that and who we can corral to try and perhaps move that out on a slower basis. We already have a lot of districts that are participating in cloud computing. We can try to move on a smaller scale," Koch said.

He says there is already some federal money for changes and Illinois can gain from successes in the states that did get money.