The origin of the process for developing the Southeast Arkansas Education Renewal Zone began on December 9, 2004, at the Jacksonville Community Center, Jacksonville, Arkansas, when Dr. Doris Terry Williams, U of NC, presented information concerning Arkansas Act 106 (HB 1056) of the 84th General Assembly. This ACT established the Division of Education Renewal Zones within the Arkansas Department of Education and authorized public schools, education service cooperatives, and state-supported higher education institutions to enter into inter-local agreements through which they could collaborate to improve public school performance and academic achievement. A companion act, Act 97, appropriated funding to implement the Education Renewal Zone (ERZ) initiative. This information was presented to state-supported higher education institutions, education service cooperatives, and qualifying schools. Representatives of the Southeast Arkansas partnership were at this initial meeting. This group formed a team at the meeting, discussed the presented information, the various steps of forming an ERZ, goals of the partnership, and the implementation process.
Several meetings followed that led to the formation of the Southeast Arkansas Renewal Zone including goals, a mission statement, and the writing of the strategic plan that will serve as a guide for the ERZ.
Mission of the Arkansas Renewal Zone Partnership:
It is the vision of the University of Arkansas at Monticello, the Southeast Arkansas Education Service Cooperative, and area high schools, through an ERZ partnership, which will be the vehicle for communication and collaboration, to provide the technical support and professional development to the schools in Southeast Arkansas. This vision is to provide alignment of teaching in the classroom with the demands of the workforce in the real world in order to prepare students for post-secondary training and the workforce. It is the vision of the ERZ to help create a culture and learning environment in the high schools that will promote high achievement through a real-world curriculum that is both rigorous and relevant to the needs of the students. This vision will include the preparation of highly-qualified teachers who will insure that all students reach their highest educational potential.
The goals of the partnership are to address the following Legislative purposes for the ERZ initiative:
Ø To identify and implement educational and management strategies designed specifically to improve school performance and student academic achievement of the SEA partnering schools.
Ø To provide for collaboration among the smaller schools and districts in SEA in order to achieve some of the economic advantages realized by larger systems.
Ø Maximize benefits by concentrating and coordinating the resources of the University of Arkansas at Monticello, the expertise of the Southeast Arkansas Educational Service Cooperative, and the technical assistance of other service providers to improve public school performance and student academic achievement; and
Ø Enable small, rural, and low-wealth schools in SEA to make the best use of the latest cost-effective distance learning technology to enhance professional development, and curricula, through two-way interactive learning environments.