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Announcing Conway County School Counts!
Posted: February 22 2007

There’s something growing in Conway County. Representatives from the local secondary schools in Conway County, the University of Arkansas Community College at Morrilton and the local business community announced the Conway County School Counts! initiative at a news conference on Tuesday. The initiative promotes the value of education and gives every student in Conway County the opportunity to continue his or her education beyond high school. The School Counts! initiative will provide financial support to local high school graduates, resulting in a better-prepared workforce that will make Conway County more attractive to companies looking to expand or move into the area.

Promotional materials designed and donated by the Allison Agency were displayed during the press conference

For the past several years, students in grades nine through twelve in the county’s secondary schools have had the opportunity to participate in the Arkansas Scholars program. The School Counts! initiative is similar to the Arkansas Scholars program and emphasizes the importance of developing the skills and attitudes needed to be competitive in today’s workforce. Developing an adequately trained local workforce will help Conway County be competitive for higher paying jobs in the future.

In order for students to be designated a School Counts! completer, they must demonstrate quality in their academic work in grades nine through twelve by not making any transcript grade lower than a “C," achieving a 95% attendance record each year of high school, completing high school in four consecutive years, and taking more than the minimum number of credits required by the state for graduation. These criteria correlate with the skills needed in today’s workforce of quality (“not having to repeat work”), attendance (“showing up for work”), persistence (“finishing what they start”) and goal setting (“going the extra mile”).

SCHOOL COUNTS! is a permanent-endowed scholarship fund designated to provide any Conway County high school graduate who meet the “SCHOOL COUNTS!” criteria a tuition waiver up to $1000 to attend the University of Arkansas Community College at Morrilton. Students already receiving $1000 or more in aid will receive a one-time $250 book scholarship.   A permanent endowment fund of at least $1,000,000 will be required to fund the number of scholarships anticipated in the near future. An endowment fund has been established with the Conway County Community Foundation/Arkansas Community Foundation for investments in the School Counts! initiative. 

Charles Penick presents a $100,000 check from Petit Jean State Bank to the School Counts! fund

One of the highlights of the press conference was the presentation of a $100,000 donation to the School Counts! endowment fund by Petit Jean State Bank. The announcement was made by Petit Jean State Bank President Charles Penick.

UACCM Chancellor Nathan Crook said, “To help meet the goal of the School Counts! initiative, the UACCM Board of Visitors has approved a $250 scholarship to be awarded for up to four semesters to students who meet the scholarship criteria.”  He went on to say, “UACCM looks forward to continuing to partner with the community to improve the educational opportunities available to students in Conway County.”

Bryce Mobley, co-chair of the Education Committee of the Conway County Economic Development Corporation, said, “In the last several years, Conway County has made tremendous strides in addressing the many issues of its economic and community development. In today’s global economy, the success of any local economy is determined by its ability to provide employers with infrastructure, raw materials and a qualified, productive workforce. The School Counts! initiative provides the residents of this county with the opportunity to improve their education and gain the skills needed to be competitive in today’s workforce.” 

Todd Haynes, finance committee chair for the initiative, announced that approximately $275,000 of the one million dollar five-year goal has already been pledged or received. Haynes said, “The endowment represents an investment in the future of Conway County. Contributions may be made to the Conway County Community Foundation/UACCM School Counts! Scholarship Endowment Fund.  The CCCF has an IRS 501(c)3 designation for contributions to qualify as income tax deductions as allowed by law.”

Individuals or groups interested in learning more about the School Counts! initiative may call Lawana Lyon at (501) 977-5135, Patty Shipp at (501) 354-4780, Barry McKuin at (501) 354-5346.
A Conway County Arkansas Workforce Initiative