Dublin has joined with hundreds of other "local education authorities" in Ohio in an effort to claim $409-million in federal funds.

Dublin has joined with hundreds of other "local education authorities" in Ohio in an effort to claim $409-million in federal funds.

Ohio was one of 40 states that applied for $4.35-billion in federal funds last week through the Race to the Top program that seeks to better prepare students for the 21st century.

According to the Ohio Department of Education, 479 "local education authorities" participated in the state application that was due Jan. 19. Ohio has 614 school district and 330 charter schools.

Although many school districts chose not to participate, Dublin Superintendent David Axner said he couldn't think of any reasons not to apply.

"I think the better question is, 'Why didn't you (apply for funds)?' Federal money is on the table," he said. "Districts have not signed on due to issues with teachers unions and the connections of teacher performance tied to student performance."

Axner said each district's superintendent, school board president and teachers union president had to endorse participation in the state application.

"It's the teacher evaluation piece that is the controversy," he said. "Teachers have to be part of that. There is a positive way to do it that doesn't have to be punitive to the teacher."

The Race to the Top program seeks to "dramatically re-shape America's educational system to better engage and prepare our students for success in a competitive 21st century economy and workplace," according to the U.S. Department of Education.

The program focuses on four areas: the adoption of standards and assessments to prepare students for college and success in the global economy; the creation of data systems that track student growth and success, and show educators how to improve; the hiring, developing, rewarding and retention of effective teachers and principals; and the reform of the nation's lowest-achieving schools.

Although Ohio is asking for more than $400-million from the program, Axner said Dublin would be in line for "approximately $400,000." If Ohio receives funding from the Race to the Top program, it will be doled out based on federal guidelines that take economic factors into account.

"A district like Dublin or Hilliard would be limited," Axner said. "For us it could mean $400,000 over four years."

While federal guidelines play a role in how much money a district can receive, Dublin would have some discretion in deciding how to spend its money.

"Some of what we will be able to do with the money is student intervention. It's not just tied to (school) buildings under federal need statutes," he said. "If we implement something for the third grade it can be done across the district. We rarely get to do that with federal money. That's a big advantage to the district."

The Jan. 19 applications were part of the first phase of Race to the Top. Applicants not awarded funds can apply during a second phase.

Grants for phase one of Race to the Top will be announced in April.