- Associated Press - Sunday, November 23, 2014

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - Thousands of dollars are being distributed to dozens of Arkansas schools to reward them for academic achievement.

A total of $7 million from the governor’s share of the state General Improvement Fund will be distributed in the coming weeks to 215 of the state’s more than 1,000 public schools as part of the Arkansas School Recognition and Reward Program, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported Sunday (https://bit.ly/1zPfiYY ).

“I am so thrilled about it,” Felicia Hobbs, principal at Little Rock’s Gibbs Magnet Elementary School, said about the $23,580 the school will receive. “I called all the staff together in the foyer, and we just whooped and hollered.”

The recipients are top-performing elementary, middle, junior high and high schools across the state - including the rural Marvell-Elaine Elementary School in the Mississippi River Delta, Drew-Central Elementary in southeast Arkansas, four De Queen School District campuses in southwest Arkansas and several independently operated charter schools in Pulaski County and elsewhere in the state.

Gibbs and five other Little Rock schools will receive more than $230,000. Three campuses in the Pulaski County Special School District are on the list of recipients, as is Lakewood Elementary in the North Little Rock School District.

There are eight reward-eligible schools in Cabot, including the campus that will get the single largest award. Cabot Junior High North is on the list for nearly $112,000, the result of performing in the top 10 percent of the state’s schools and the school’s large enrollment.

Northwest Arkansas schools are well-represented among the award-winning schools. There are five award winners in Springdale, six in Fort Smith and eight in each of the Fayetteville and Rogers school districts.

The schools are being awarded for their high scores on 2014 state Benchmark and End-of-Course exams, combined with high achievement growth on those tests. In the high schools, graduation rates are substituted for achievement growth in the calculation.

The highest-performing 10 percent of schools, of which there were 109, are eligible for $90 per student. The 106 campuses that performed within the second-highest 10 percent tier of schools are eligible for just over $45 per student in reward funds.


Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, https://www.arkansasonline.com

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