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State and city officials breathe a sigh of relief with $696m in sight

State and city officials reacted to news of New York’s Race to the Top win with many I-thought-this-day-might-never-come jokes and one off-script moment from the governor.

Speaking at his midtown offices, where he was joined by state legislators and education officials, Governor David Paterson said the win vindicated the work of those who pushed the state legislature to pass new laws on teacher evaluation and charter schools. Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch described the state’s $696 million dollar win as a “gift,” and State Senator Malcolm Smith referred to it as a “big slab of bacon.”

“I’m actually a rabbi’s daughter, so I’m not bringing home the bacon,” Tisch corrected him.

State Education Commissioner David Steiner, looking tired, said the announcement marked the beginning of years of work.

“It is a very, very good moment,” he said. “It is only the start.”

More than half of the state’s winnings will be distributed among school districts, Steiner said. The remainder will fund work done centrally by the State Education Department. New York City will receive between $250 and 300 million dollars and city and state officials will have to negotiate how that money is spent.

“For the first time, federal dollars are actually going to buy real deliverables,” Tisch said, adding that some of the money will go to improving the state’s lowest performing schools. “The tough work now begins,” she said.

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