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Four Local Schools Rank Among State’s High Performing Schools

BY TOSHA LANCE –

Four local schools join 206 schools around the state to be recognized as high performing for the 2013-2014 school year, according to the Arkansas Department of Education. The Arkansas School Recognition and Rewards Program recognizes the top 20 percent of schools based on academic achievement, academic growth and graduation rates. Governor Mike Beebe participated in a kick-off recognition event, which was held Thursday, April 3rd at Southwest Middle School in Searcy to honor the schools.

Not only are the schools honored for performance, they also receive additional funding for educational programs. Act 1429 of 2013 revised the program and Act 703 of 2013 appropriated funding. A total of $7 million from the governor’s allocation of the General Improvement Fund was designated for the program this school year. Schools in the top 20 percent this year received $45.35 per student and schools in the top 10 percent received $90.70 per student.

Mena Public School’s Louise Durham Elementary and Holly Harshman Elementary both ranked in the top 10 percent with Louise Durham receiving $40,120.19 and Holly Harshman receiving $36,257.82.

Mena School Superintendent, Benny Weston, told The Pulse  “we’re extremely excited and proud that we had two schools qualify for the rewards program by being in the top 10 percent for the state and proud of the hard work which went in to being named a high performing school.”

Cossatot River School District also had 2 schools that ranked in the top 10 percent of the state. Wickes Elementary received $28,914.71 and Van Cove Elementary received $19,163.28.

Cossatot River Superintendent, Lendall Martin, said “We are very proud of Wickes and Van-Cove Elementary and very thankful to the Arkansas Department of Education for the Recognition and Rewards Program that has allowed us to receive this performance based funding. Our principals, teachers and staff have all done a very commendable job and certainly the students, who are the ones that made it possible for the schools to receive this recognition.”

The received funds must be used for nonrecurring bonuses to the faculty and staff, nonrecurring expenditures for educational equipment or materials to assist in maintaining and improving student performance, or temporary personnel for the school to assist in maintaining and improving student performance. A committee made up of the principal, a teacher elected by the faculty, and a parent representative selected by the local Parent Teacher Association or some other local parental involvement group shall determine how the funds will be used.

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