Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Thursday signed an education reform package that will make California eligible to compete for funds through President Obama’s $4.35 billion Race to the Top (RTTT) initiative. Similarly, the IUSD Board of Education voted to submit a Memorandum of Understanding to the state signaling the district’s intent to remain in the running for its share of the federal funds, should they materialize. “While this action reserves our right to further evaluate our interest and ability to compete for Race to the Top funds, note that it in no way ties us to a course of action,” Superintendent Gwen Gross said. “There are still many unanswered questions surrounding RTTT’s requirements, and though it preliminarily appears that the federal calls for reform align well with our district’s current practices and objectives, we will carefully study all implications before moving forward.” All total, California is eligible for as much as $700 million through the RTTT program, which was established to improve education. Should the state receive this money, Irvine’s portion has been estimated at between $140,000 and $180,000 over four years. “We know that this total would do little to solve our current shortfall and, again, many of the initiative’s ambiguities need to be clarified,” Superintendent Gross said. “At the same time, it is incumbent upon us to explore all opportunities for additional revenue, particularly those that align with our district’s needs and priorities.” State applications for Phase I of Race to the Top are due Jan. 19, and the winners will be announced in April.