On October 24, 2018 our legislators, Mike Holcomb and Eddie Cheatham visited Star City School District along with The Arkansas Department of Education Teacher of the Year, Randi House. The meeting began with a conversation and discussion with administrators about issues facing public schools in Arkansas Education. Two of the great challenges public schools face is declining support for facilities funding and huge gaps in salaries for certified staff in different areas of the state. Superintendent Jon Laffoon stated, “The research done by OEP at the University of Arkansas shows a correlation to lagging salaries in the Arkansas Delta and teacher recruitment and retention. Southeast Arkansas is well behind in teacher starting salaries and that can lead to achievement gaps when we can’t find teachers.”
The legislators, ATOY and administration also discussed many of the programs and activities that Star City Schools are offering to students. One of the discussion points was enhanced transportation funding which is provided to rural school districts due to excessive travel in large area districts. Senator Cheatham was a advocate of rural districts and helped get the funding passed for districts like Star City. Representative Holcomb acknowledged Star City is well known statewide for one of the top STEM programs in Arkansas. The group concluded the day by visiting several classrooms at each campus. They visited with students and staff and got to see first hand the great work being done in Star City.