Arturo Cantu, the principal at Mount Auburn Elementary School, has been smiling a little more than usual lately.

The East Dallas school recently received $103,000 from the Texas Education Agency for improvement in the school’s Texas Assessment of Academic Skills test scores during the past three years. Mount Auburn is the top money winner of the 55 DISD schools recognized by the TEA.

“This is a shot in the arm,” Cantu says. “Everyone at Mount Auburn is very excited about this award. It’s a tremendous morale boost.

“We’ve been told the sky’s the limit, so we’re going to order a lot of sky,” Cantu says.

With the help of Mount Auburn faculty and parents, Cantu hopes more concrete plans for the money will be decided by the middle of this month.

Some preliminary considerations include programs and workshops geared to increasing parental involvement at the school, the purchase of instructional and resource materials, student incentive programs and staff development programs, Cantu says.

“We’ll be looking at things that will make a difference,” Cantu says, “things that aren’t ordinarily covered in our existing budget.”

The school can use the money any way it chooses, with the exception of salary supplements.

Mount Auburn’s performance has been monitored by the state, along with that of approximately 100 other schools with similar student profiles. In student performance gain, the elementary school ranks among the top 10 in the group.

The state tests are given annually to third graders. The students’ skills are tested in reading, writing and math categories.

“I’m not surprised that our students’ performance has improved,” Cantu says. “I am surprised that we received this kind of recognition.”

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