An interesting approach to educational reform: "money with a catch" (or two or three).
In one way, I like this approach - it allows the school leadership to take a multi-faceted approach to improving eduction. We know that teachers, curriculum, technology, infrastructure, and food (among a multitude of other things) are all important for school outcomes. So, money can be put in different baskets, as opposed to one.
A problem that may arise is that freedom to choose how to spend the money also means freedom to choose incorrectly. There probably isn't a "right" and "wrong" way to spend $1.6 million, but a lot of it could go to waste.
I guess this is the sense in which this is a multimillion dollar "bet." The bet is on whether local school leaders can figure out how to spend their money in the best possible way - something that we currently have more questions than answers about.