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Rewarding Schools

Students from the Bismarck School District gave up their first day of fall break to travel to the capitol this week for a news conference in which we celebrated their academic achievement.

Bismarck schools achieved Award status in the Arkansas School Recognition Program, which honors schools whose academic achievement is in the top 10 percent in the state. The state provided awards of about $7 million to the top schools. In Bismarck, the elementary, middle, and high schools all achieved that ranking for the second straight year.

The program also rewards the schools whose growth in achievement on the ACT Aspire tests is in the top 10 percent.

The program gives financial rewards to the high-achieving schools. This year, 175 schools made the Top 10 percent list.

The largest single checks went to Bryant and Cabot high schools. Bryant High qualified for $133,000 and Cabot High will receive $104,000. Their awards recognize them for academic growth and improved graduation rates.

But that wasn’t all for the Cabot district, which had six campuses on the list. The district was awarded a grand total of $353,000.

Each of the winning schools will create a committee that will decide how to spend this windfall. They can give money to faculty and staff as a bonus, and schools can buy equipment and books.

It was a pleasure for Department of Education Commissioner Johnny Key and me to meet the folks from Bismarck and to present the oversize ceremonial checks to them.

It is gratifying to know that educators are working so diligently to teach our students, and that our students are responding by growing academically.

It’s not all about the money, of course, but the financial reward is a real-life lesson for students who learned that hard work can pay off with a good paycheck.

Congratulations to all the Award schools.

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