Academics Plus Elementary principal Diane Gross, Maumelle Mayor Mike Watson and Rep. Mark Lowery

Being a high performing school not only draws recognition and honor, but it now results in direct financial incentives to build upon that success.

In the 2013-2014 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 Academics Plus Charter School, one of the 206 Reward Schools, Mayor Mike Watson and Rep. Mark Lowery presented a ceremonial check in the amount of $18,114.05 to Diane Gross, the school’s Elementary Principal.

"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 in a release. "The funds will allow schools to provide additional resources and tools to help students become ready for college and careers."

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