Hope Public Schools awarded grant for nearly $15 million

The highly competitive grant comes from the U.S. Department of Education and will be paid over five years.
Published: Oct. 7, 2022 at 2:59 PM CDT|Updated: Oct. 10, 2022 at 3:25 PM CDT
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HOPE, Ark. (KSLA) - The Hope Public School District has received the Magnet Schools Assistance Program Grant for $14,999,987.

The highly competitive grant comes from the U.S. Department of Education and will be paid over five years. Hope is the only district in Arkansas to receive the funding.

“This is going to help transform K-12 education in Hope,” said Dr. Jonathon Crossley, superintendent of the Hope Public School District.

The MSAP awards support efforts to develop and revitalize magnet schools with academically challenging and innovative instructional approaches designed to bring together students from different social, economic, ethnic, and racial backgrounds. Specifically, the grant will allow for each of the six campuses in Hope to be transformed into a magnet school, specializing in STEM fields, and the arts.

“I can’t imagine the opportunity it is going to bring to our students our families our community,” said Dr. Carol Duke, one of the school principals in the district.

Dr. Duke has 33 years of experience in education. There are around 200 teachers in the school district, and those KSLA spoke with say becoming a magnet district will add some pressure, but they welcome the challenge.

“Pressure to continue to do the best and be the best and to reach out to those students who are reluctant, someday to engage and provide opportunities that don’t give them an option, but to engage,” said Dr. Duke.

“Our goal is to make Hope Public Schools the premiere destination for education in Arkansas. The Magnet Grant provides a comprehensive approach to transforming education in Hope for students and families,” said Dr. Crossley.

The grant money will be used to transform the district into a magnet district. In the plan, all students would reach graduation with either an associates degree, substantial college hours or a trade certification. A STEAM-focused curriculum (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) will also be implemented for all students.

“Ultimately, within the next five years, all of our students will graduate with either an associate degree, professional skill, trade certificate, or significant college hours because of the planning we are putting forward because of this grant,” Dr. Crossley said.

“We see this as a phenomenal opportunity to provide specialized, research-based curricula to enhance the learning opportunities of students. By doing this, we believe we will have a very competitive and employable workforce in the future,” said Dr. Christine Holt, chancellor at the University of Arkansas Hope-Texarkana.

The Pathways to Hope Project created a “cradle to college and career” system of schools. The proposed project schools will teach students strategies to ensure they have resources and experience necessary for success.

“We are looking forward to the exciting things happening for the Hope School District,” said Mayor Don Sill.

Educational leaders say they believe being a magnet district speaking positively of the education already being provided in southwest Arkansas.

“I think it says we have a compelling story, a compelling plan for making the most out of every day. I think it says we have a thriving community ready for the 21st,” said Dr. Crossley.

The grant money will fund the magnet school designation over the next five years. Then, the district can reapply or decide to provide funding from within.