Genesee Intermediate School District Awarded Whole-School Technology Grant

Contact: Martin Ackley, Director of Public and Governmental Affairs (517) 241-4395
Agency: Education

November 22, 2013

LANSING - The Genesee Intermediate School District (GISD) has been awarded the $5 million whole-school technology grant that will study the impact of full-on digital access for teachers and students in a school, the Michigan Department of Education announced today.

The whole-school technology transformation pilot will provide the state with the ability to study the total cost and impact of providing full-on, digital access to personalized learning opportunities for more than 5,000 students across the state.

This project creates learning laboratories that take the next step in advancing teaching and learning through the effective use of technology. The funding will allow schools to explore how digital environments empower teachers, engage students, and bolster outcomes.

With this grant, Genesee ISD now will select an appropriate cross-section of schools that are geographically and demographically diverse, providing a balanced impact pilot study. The goal is better data and information on these types of innovations and the costs associated with deployment.

“The results of this pilot program will lead to better public policy,” State Superintendent Mike Flanagan said. “School districts also will have better information to support implementing their own innovations at the school and classroom level, to see what works best for students and teachers.”

 GISD had the top-rated application in the Department of Education’s standard competitive bidding process, which conceals from the grant scorers the names of the applicants. The scoring of the grants was completed in late October and the final results were being tabulated and progressing through the standard process at the Department of Education before the revelation that one of the applications was submitted by a company operated by a relative of Michigan’s state budget director.

When Flanagan saw that an issue had been raised with this grant, he called his staff together to ensure that the process had maintained its fidelity and integrity. The competitive bidding and scoring process and the details of the grant were explained to Flanagan, as were the results of the scoring. He decided to expedite the announcement of the grant award to put to rest any suspicion of impropriety.

“The grant scorers had no idea whose application was whose,” said Flanagan. “In their scrutiny, the scorers determined that Genesee ISD had the best proposal at the lowest per-pupil cost; and that was determined before the controversy this week.”

Flanagan had no previous knowledge of the relationship between one of the grant applicants and State Budget Director John Nixon. After reading in news stories the precautions Nixon took to distance himself and his staff at the Department of Technology, Management and Budget (DTMB) from the grant process, and speaking to MDE staff working on the grant, Flanagan was satisfied that the process was conducted properly.

Flanagan said, “I think DTMB and Budget Director Nixon did the honorable thing, in completely separating themselves from this competitive bid process.

 “We all can move forward now and focus on the education aspect of this technology grant,” Flanagan said.