An education project in El Dorado has reached its fifth year and recently reported results.
The El Dorado Promise Scholarship, funded with $50 million from Murphy Oil Corp., was established in January 2007. It offers up to 100 percent college funding for any El Dorado School District graduate who resides in the district and has been a student there since at least ninth grade.
According to a news release, 997 students have received Promise Scholarship funding since 2007. El Dorado reported 90 percent of its Promise-eligible 2011 graduates as enrolled in college, and a 62 percent increase in students scoring a 3, 4 or 5 on AP exams.
"There have been so many things that have come about after the Promise was announced," said Sylvia Thompson, director of the program. "We built a $52 million high school and a conference center and arts building for the community college here. Our students are looking forward to a wonderful future."
The district showed a rise in enrollment, reversing a declining trend seen in southern Arkansas. El Dorado, for example, had 4,581 students enrolled in the 2011-12 school year compared with 4,430 in the 2006-07 year. The rest of Union County, excluding El Dorado, had 2,841 students this school year and 3,448 in 2006-07.
El Dorado also showed increasing test scores for mathematics and literacy, decreasing dropout rates and a bump in enrollment and graduation rates at the nearby SouthArk Community College.
"We’re just really pleased it’s been going on for five years," said Thompson. "The last Promise baby hasn’t been born yet."