Jasper High School Principal Jeff Lewis shared with me this past week a letter the school received from the state commending it on its academic performance and recognition as a leader in education innovation in light of its limited resources as a campus within a rural, consolidated school district.

Jasper High School was recently designated a School of Innovation and over the past few years has taken a lead on staff development, curriculum reform, flex scheduling and parental involvement. If patrons have not noticed the changes and improvements in the quality of education students have been receiving, state legislators apparently have and want to include the school in a statewide case study of the state's school funding system.

Here is the news Mr. Lewis shared with his staff:

He writes, "Once again I am letting you know about how you are being recognized by the great work you do. ALL OF YOU. It took you all to do this. It seems as if the House and Senate Committee's on Education want to know what we are doing that is working so well! As you read below you will see more details about this. I don't think we completely understand yet what an honor it is to have these folks do a case study on JHS. I copied and pasted the email that was sent to Mr. Cantrell and he forwarded it to me. JHS continues to shine, and I am proud to be a part of your team, and I cannot express my appreciation enough for all of you and the work you do for our kids. Let's continue to shine! Go Pirates!"

Arkansas General Assembly

Senate Interim Committee On Education

House Interim Committee On Education

May 6, 2020

Electronic copy sent to:

Superintendent Jeff Cantrell, Jasper School District

Johnny Key, Secretary of Education

Jasper High School (LEA 5102006)

Mr. Jeff Lewis

P.O. Box 446

Jasper, AR 72641

Dear Principal Lewis,

The Arkansas Senate and House Education Committees have contracted with the consulting firm Augenblick, Palaich and Associates (APA) to conduct a study of Arkansas’s school funding system. One component of this work is examining how schools who are having academic success with specific student populations utilize resources. The study team has selected a set of schools from around the state that have shown success with low-income and/or English Learner (EL) students.

Congratulations, we are pleased to inform you that your school has been selected as one of the case study schools in recognition of your school’s successes. A study team member from APA will be contacting you very soon to schedule video conference meetings with your administrative team and several teachers during the end of May and early June. The study team will also schedule a half-day onsite visit in the fall. This is a deviation from the original plan to conduct day-long site visits to your school, due to the current pandemic. Interviews will focus on resources available to the school and how they are used to best serve students. This include examining:

• School staffing

• School curriculum and instruction strategy

• Use of instructional and planning time during the school day

• Specific interventions used for students who are performing below grade-level expectations

• Spending for instructional materials and technology

• Use of assessment data

• Professional development opportunities

• School culture, community engagement and leadership approach

• Additional non-monetary support the school receives from the community and families and the impact it has on the school’s success.

To prepare for the conversations and make the best use of your staff’s time, the study team would like to collect some information and materials in advance. This includes any readily available strategic plans, instructional plans, and staffing, schedule and school budget information. You will be provided an online folder to which you can upload this information after the initial contact from the APA team member.

These video conferences and onsite visits will provide the Committees with insights into best practices being implemented in Arkansas schools to secure success for students. Your time and contributions to this study will be invaluable.

Thank you,

Senate Education Committee Chair Sen. Jane English

House Education Committee Chair Rep. Bruce Cozart

Jeff Dezort, Newton County Times editor, has worked at the newspaper since 2001. Before that he was a reporter, photographer and assistant editor of the Harrison Daily Times.

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.