163 of state’s public schools to receive $6.95M in rewards

A classroom is shown in this 2015 file photo.
A classroom is shown in this 2015 file photo.

A total of 163 of Arkansas' more than 1,000 public schools will receive $6,950,900 in rewards for high student achievement and/or improvement on the ACT Aspire exams last spring and, if applicable, for their 2021-2022 high school graduation rates.

The Arkansas School Recognition Program, established by Arkansas Code Annotated 6-15-2107, provides $100 per student to the schools that were in the top 5% of schools in achievement on the state-mandated exams or were in the top 5% of schools showing improvement on the exams as compared to the past school year.

A $50 per student award is provided to those schools that are in the second highest tiers of achievement and/or growth -- or being among the top 6% to 10% of schools.

Schools big and small in school districts across the state are among the recipients of the money.

Traditional public school campuses in Springdale, Conway, Cabot, North Little Rock and Pulaski County Special are among the schools slated to receive the special funding.

The four Haas Hall Academy campuses in Northwest Arkansas are among the state's open-enrollment charter schools to be identified for funding. Campuses in the Academics Plus Public Charter Schools, eStem Public Charter Schools and Lisa Academy charter system are also to be state-rewarded schools.

Little Rock's Don Roberts Elementary will receive the highest amount for a single campus -- $200,800 -- as the result of both achievement and growth on the state-mandated test in math, English/language arts and science.

Steven Helmick, Roberts' principal and Arkansas' 2023 Principal of the Year as named by the Arkansas Association of Educational Administrators, said Thursday that he and the Roberts' faculty are "super excited" and grateful for the rewards.

"We definitely celebrate this because there has been a lot of hard work being put into it on the achievement side and on the growth side of things," Helmick said. "But we are very mindful that there is still room for us to continue to grow, to make sure all of our kids are getting what they need."

[DOCUMENT: Read full list of schools and awards » arkansasonline.com/113schools/]

The Bentonville School District overall will receive more than $1.3 million or nearly 20% of the total available in state funding for the achievement and growth in the Bentonville campuses.

Bentonville High and Bentonville West High in particular will each receive in excess of $100,000. Bentonville High is to receive $163,800 for being among the top 6% to 10% of schools in achievement. Bentonville High West will receive $119,700 for being among the top 6% to 10% of schools in growth and graduation rate.

Benton High School is another single campus to qualify for more than $100,000 in the reward money -- $131,500 -- for achievement growth and graduation rate.

The rewarded schools, which were posted Wednesday evening by the Arkansas Division of Elementary and Secondary Education, must now form committees made up of the campus principal, a teacher elected by other teachers, and a parent representative selected by the school's Parent Teacher Association or other parent organization, to determine how to use the reward money.

School recognition awards shall be used for one or more of the following:

Nonrecurring bonuses to the faculty and staff.

Nonrecurring expenditures for educational equipment or materials to assist in maintaining and improving student performance.

Temporary personnel for the school to assist in maintaining and improving student performance.

Helmick of Roberts Elementary said his school has used reward money received in the past for employee bonuses, for new laptops for staff, training programs in other parts of the country, the purchase of instructional materials and replacement of equipment and furniture.

The list of schools and the dollar amount of their rewards are here: https://adecm.ade.arkansas.gov/Attachments/Reward_Schools_2023_102935.pdf