OPENTHEBOOKS.COM: FAILING DISTRICT
SPENT $8.3 MILLION ON SALARIES IN 2016
"The (Education) department's performance measures are inadequate and must be strengthened." Policy Foundation, "Arkansas Efficiency Project, 2016
(May 2018) The Dollarway School District, taken over by the state in 2015, spent $8,309,639 on employee salaries in 2016, according to public records compiled by OpenTheBooks.com, a non-profit that advances government transparency as a policy goal.
Dollarway had 257 employees1 and 1,192 students2 in 2016, according to records compiled by OpenTheBooks.com and the Arkansas Department of Education (ADE).
Per pupil spending in Dollarway was $12,551 in the 2015-16 school year versus the $9,701 state average, ADE records show.
The state Board of Education took over Dollarway in December 2015 after the district fired its superintendent. The vote was unanimous.
At the time, fewer than half of Dollarway students scored at proficient levels on state math and literacy exams.3 Today, after $8.3 million in expenditures, ADE data show 89.3% of Dollarway students were "in need of support," with only 8% "ready or exceeding" state standards"4 in the 2016-17 school year.
PA 930 of 2017 directed ADE to support Dollarway, classified as a "Level 5" school district.5 The designation is applied to schools in need of "intensive support." Dollarway was still designated as a Level 5 district in 2017-18.
The non-profit's mission to report, "Every Dime. Online. In Real Time." The group has "captured nearly 4 billion public expenditures," and is "rapidly growing" its data "in all 50 states down to the municipal level.
2 ADE, "Arkansas School Performance Report Cards, 2015-16," https://adesrc.arkansas.gov/
3 Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, "State Board of Education votes to take over Dollarway School District," Dec. 10, 2015
4 ADE, "Dollarway School Performance Report Card, 2016-17"
5 Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Law, vote to re-label Little Rock, Dollarway school districts as Level 5; goal is a refocus of accountability," July 14, 2017