The federal Race to the Top funding program is competitive and exhaustive. But given the potentially huge pay-off, in this game Burbank Unified has nothing to lose and everything to gain.

At a time when schools are languishing under harsh cuts to state education funding, that the Race to the Top program this year is, for the first time, open to individual districts presents an opportune challenge. Yes, the competition is nationwide, and likely will be extremely tight. But the rewards are great: up to $40 million over the course of four years. And best of all, unlike in years past, the money won't be funneled through state bureaucracy. It will go directly to the winning school districts.

If during their evaluation of the application requirements Burbank Unified officials determine that the district does qualify, it seems foolhardy to let this opportunity pass by.

The Glendale Unified School District already has announced its intent to apply, and hundreds of other school districts no doubt will do the same. And let's not forget that the national Teacher of the Year teaches in Burbank. Perhaps that could put some extra wind behind the application as it heads to Washington D.C.