Will Fresno Teachers Block $40 Million Grant Application?

Fresno elementary schools could get $40 million from the federal government for reading and writing programs.

But the district almost missed the application deadline.

And even now, it's about to miss its opportunity.

What's standing in the way? Teachers.

The district is waiting for the Fresno Teachers Association to sign off on the Race to the Top application - it's a federal program that doles out billions for education.

Fresno is applying for nearly $40 million.

It would pay for reading and writing programs in pre-kindergarten through third grades.

Before Hurricane Sandy hit- Tuesday October 30 was the deadline.

But the FTA refused to sign off on it.

Now the feds are giving schools more time.

But it doesn't look like the teachers union will budge.

"Selfish. Selfish. They're thinking of themselves and the hurdles they're going to have to jump, and not the children. The money is not for the teachers, it's for the kids and the schools," said Kristin Stanley, a parent of a Fresno Unified elementary student.

FTA president, Eva Ruiz, didn't want to go on camera to explain why teachers don't want to sign off on the application. But she told KMPH, teachers have several issues, including time constraint. She says teachers didn't get a copy of the final draft of the application until Friday, which would've given them about 5 days to make a decision before the deadline. When asked why 5 days wasn't enough time, she said because it's a legal document nearly 200 pages long, they wanted to go over it thoroughly.

Ruiz also said the program could change teachers' contracts and would tie in test scores to teacher evaluations - which teachers don't like.

And even though Sandy blew the deadline open, there's no guarantee the FTA will sign the application.

"Please sign it, sign it soon and fast. Get the kids the money they deserve," said Stanley.

The FTA will meet Thursday, to talk about the grant application.

Central Unified teachers already rejected the application.

Meanwhile, Clovis and Sanger school districts turned theirs in, asking for $20 million combined.