University of Central Arkansas President Lu Hardin today announced that the Walton Family Foundation has awarded a $426,141 grant to plan, develop and implement the Arkansas Public School Resource Center in affiliation with UCA.
The purpose of the Center will be to provide comprehensive services to advance and support school choice initiatives and the implementation of high quality open enrollment public charter schools in Arkansas, as well as providing a variety of support services critical to the fiscal and academic success of rural public schools in Arkansas.
“We are honored to partner with the Walton Family Foundation in this critically important initiative,” Hardin said. “Arkansas was, is and always will be a predominately rural school state, resulting in some unique and continuing challenges facing our educational delivery system. Thanks to the Walton Family Foundation, UCA will provide significant leadership in both providing support to our rural school districts, as well as advancing and supporting high-quality choice opportunities for Arkansas children.”Hardin said the goals of the Center will be supporting school choice initiatives, the implementation and expansion of high quality open enrollment charter schools in Arkansas, the protection and continuing support of Arkansas public school accountability measures and the opportunity to provide assistance to rural public school districts and schools committed to meeting accountability provisions of Act 35 and Act 1467, the Omnibus Education Act.
“As Arkansas has fully implemented its fiscal and academic accountability programs, we and the Walton Family Foundation realized that many ‘regular’ public school districts — particularly small, rural districts — are facing many of the same challenges that are faced by open enrollment public charter schools,” Hardin said. “The Arkansas Public School Resource Center will serve as both a catalyst and a support mechanism to address issues critical to the success of both.”
The Center will design and provide support services for both open enrollment public charter schools and rural public school districts to establish and maintain high quality schools measured by both fiscal and academic performance. Services to be offered by the Center will include, but not be limited to:
o Professional development for school staffs
o Leadership training for new leaders
o Formative assessments and support in data-based decision making
o Student Information Systems (SIS) training
o Special education compliance
o School lunch program compliance
o Guidance regarding facilities needs
o Financial/Accounting compliance assistance
o Distance learning