Arkansas Education

An Arkansas university has announced it has raised more than $100 million in private gift support for the fourth year in a row.

The University of Arkansas at Fayetteville announced Monday that it's raised $113.3 million in fiscal year 2014. The amount surpasses the school's goal of $108 million. The private gift support includes cash, planned gifts and new pledges received from July 2013 through June of this year.

The superintendent of the Jessieville School District has resigned more than a week after being arrested in Texas for driving while intoxicated.

Andy Curry's resignation was announced Saturday night following a 90 minute special school board meeting that was held behind closed doors.

Curry was arrested July 24 in Euless, Texas, while on vacation. Police say Curry was stopped after an officer saw him twice drive into a curb.

Arkansas is hosting its annual back to school sales tax holiday this weekend.

State and local taxes won’t be charged on Saturday and Sunday for clothing that is less than $100 per item and school-related merchandise. A complete list of items and exceptions can be found here.

  The Arkansas Higher Education Coordinating Board has granted certification for a new medical school on the campus of Arkansas State University.

The board on Friday approved certification for the New York Institute of Technology to offer three degrees at the Jonesboro campus: a doctor of osteopathic medicine, a master of science in medical/health care simulation and a master of science in neuromusculoskeletal sciences.

The certification is contingent on the school receiving approval from a national accreditation association.

Active Shooter Simulator

The 10th annual Arkansas Safe Schools Conference is underway in North Little Rock presenting law enforcement and education officials with information to improve safety.

The conference had a few hands-on tools including a firearms training system allowing participants to virtually go through a school shooting as a police officer. Charles Ellis with Camden’s Law Enforcement Training Academy walked officers through the training.

He says some educators are also taking interest.

Arkansas Education Association Director of Pubic Affairs Corey Biggs
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

Advocates of increasing technology use in education are continuing to push for opening up the state’s broadband network to K-12 public schools.

The Arkansas Research Education Optical Network, or ARE-ON, is a network for universities and research institutions that has superior bandwidth capacity compared to commercial internet. Advocates argue it would provide cheaper service too, particularly to rural school districts. 42 states have similar public networks but a 2011 law made Arkansas the only state prohibiting public school access.

Arkansas State Capitol
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

El Dorado school officials are making the case for a pilot program offering alternative high school diploma options. District officials presented their plan for individualized, trade-focused diploma options to a joint meeting of the Education Committees Monday.

El Dorado Superintendent Jim Tucker said an alternative to the GED – that keeps kids in school – is needed.

Arkansas Tech University now has a new president.

Robin Bowen took office Tuesday, becoming the 12th president of the university in Russellville. She succeeds Robert Brown, who retired Monday after serving 21 years.

In taking office, Bowen became the first female president of a public, four-year university in Arkansas. She was elected president in April by the Arkansas Tech Board of Trustees.

Harold Copenhaver

The Arkansas House and Senate have given initially approval to legislation that would prevent large premium increases for the state's public school employees.

The chambers approved the measures Tuesday as the Legislature planned to wrap up its special session in the early hours Wednesday.

Harold Copenhaver
Talk Business & Politics

A co-chair of a task force on teacher health insurance says after this week’s special session, his group plans to study privatizing the troubled school benefits program.