JACKSONVILLE, Ark. – The Arkansas Legislative Council on Tuesday approved the distribution of $123.5 million to 35 school districts. The money will come from federal sources, including the American Rescue Plan fund.
Eleven of the districts will use the money to fund teacher and staff bonuses. Others submitted plans that were approved.
“I think it’s well earned,” said State Sen. Bob Ballinger, (R) District 5. “It does fill the gap until the legislature can get in session.”
Jacksonville/North Pulaski Superintendent Dr. Jeremy Owoh said his district will get a little more than $12 million. The money will go toward phase two of middle school construction and pay for academic facilitators.
“[They] help support the learning loss for our young people at all grade levels, K-12th grade,” Owoh said.
This dispersal was not always set in stone. Legislators voted in July to rescind $500 million in spending power for the Dept. of Education. After deliberations over the past couple of weeks, more than $100 million was returned.
“When they paused those reimbursements from the state department, that did provide a lot of concern,” Owoh said.
Owoh said some of the money will go toward supplementing bonuses given to faculty last school year. The ALC recommended giving $5000 to full-time teachers, meaning Jacksonville teachers would get more than $2000 to supplement what was already given.
“We know the work our teachers and support staff do every day is meaningful,” Owoh said.