Education is a high priority in El Dorado, and much investment has gone into the schools to ensure student success.
El Dorado Public Schools is an integral educational resource in the community for K-12 students. The school system services approximately 4,650 students on eight campuses, including five elementary schools, one middle school, one junior high school and one high school. Included in the list of unique programming offered through El Dorado Public Schools are 15 Advanced Placement (AP) courses, with pre-AP courses beginning in fifth grade; concurrent credit courses; gifted programming in all schools; the ACT Support Center; and a strong athletic program for students in grades 7-12.
Perhaps the most significant program supplied through the district is the El Dorado Promise. In January 2007, Murphy Oil made a $50 million promise to the students of El Dorado Public Schools and the community. The revolutionary El Dorado Promise is a scholarship program that provides graduating high school students a scholarship to be used at any accredited two- or four-year educational institution in the U.S. The maximum amount payable will be equal to the highest tuition cost payable at any Arkansas public university. Since the introduction of the El Dorado Promise, the number of graduates from El Dorado Public Schools who enroll in college has increased more than 20 percent. Also, school enrollment has increased three percent after a 20-year decline.
Murphy Oil also invests in the Murphy Education Program, which presents financial awards to high-achieving students in grades 1-12. In addition, the company made a major contribution that went towards the construction of the new 320,000-square-foot high school campus, which opened in the summer of 2011. The 62-acre site features a 2,000-seat arena/gymnasium, a 450-seat auditorium, more than 100 classrooms, an 8,000-square-foot student dining/commons area and much more.
The district also receives support from the El Dorado Education Foundation (EDEF), an independent, nonprofit organization that advances core academic excellence through the funding of innovative educational projects for teachers. In the past 12 years, the foundation has invested more than $1.7 million in El Dorado Public Schools. Perhaps the most noteworthy contribution of the EDEF has been its assistance in the establishment of the nation’s first elementary and secondary school endowed chair program in mathematics, science, foreign language and literacy.
Many local students choosing to continue on the path of higher learning enroll at South Arkansas Community College (SouthArk), a comprehensive, public, two-year community college with two campuses in El Dorado (East and West). The accredited college offers two-year degree and transfer degree programs along with professional certificate options, non-credit courses for lifelong learners and workforce development opportunities.
Many other options exist within a two-hour drive, including Southern Arkansas University (Magnolia), Louisiana Tech (Ruston), LSU-Shreveport, UL-Monroe and the University of Arkansas-Little Rock.