Being a high performing school not only draws recognition and honor, but for Cedarville Elementary School it has resulted in direct financial incentives to build upon that success.

In the 2013-14 school year, 206 public schools were recognized as high performing schools through the Arkansas School Recognition and Reward Program. The program recognizes the top 20 percent of schools based on academic achievement, academic growth and graduation rates.

To honor Cedarville Elementary, state Rep. Charlene Fite presented a check for $14,496.76 to CES for being a top 20 percent performing school.

"I wish I had grandchildren at Cedarville because of the outstanding staff and the great job they do," Fite said.

Dr. Dan Foreman, superintendent of the Cedarville School District, said the award will mean a $198.64 bonus for every teacher and staff member at Cedarville Elementary. The district also purchased 25 mini-iPads for the school.

"Academic achievement and growth not only mean students are getting a quality education, they resulted in additional funds for high performing schools," Arkansas Department of Education Commissioner Dr. Tom Kimbrell said. "The funds will allow schools to provide additional resources and tools to help students become ready for college and careers."

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. The Legislature supported Beebe’s recommendation to fund the program with $7 million from General Revenue in school year 2014-15.

Schools in the top 20 percent this year received $45.35 per student. Schools that were in the top 10 percent received $90.70 per student.

Schools receiving recognition funds established a committee to determine the best use of the funds. The committee included the principal, a teacher elected by the faculty, and a parent representative selected by the local Parent Teacher Association or another parental involvement group.

Schools can use the funds for faculty and staff bonuses, educational equipment and materials, or personnel to assist with improving or maintaining student performance.

Originally passed as part of 2004’s Act 35, school rewards had never been funded until this year. Arkansas Learns, the private sector alliance for excellence in public education, championed annual funding in both the 89th General Assembly and the recent fiscal session.