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Arkansas scholarship program boosts school enrollment.

EL DORADO, Ark. (AP) -- Since Murphy Oil Corp. announced its 20-year program to provide college scholarships to every graduating senior in the El Dorado School District, the school system has seen two straight years of rising enrollment, following years of steady declines.

The numbers seem to make sense, but El Dorado Forward marketing director Cindy Langston says there's no way to directly tie the El Dorado Promise--as Murphy calls its program--to the district's enrolment figures.

"It seems pretty obvious, because we have had rising numbers since the Promise announcement, and our numbers had been declining almost each year before that." Langston said.

As of mid-July, the El Dorado district had added 102 new students for the coming school year, Langston told a civic club. Last fall, a little more than a hall-year after the El Dorado Promise was announced in January 2007, district officials said enrolment was up by 140 students.

In the fall of 2006, before the scholarship program began, enrollment in the district dropped by 128 students. The peak of the decline, district officials say, was in 2002, when the school system lost 142 students.

Langston said interest in the scholarship program is also reflected by people who log on to GoEIDorado.com to request more information about the city and the El Dorado Promise. She said five relocation packages were sent to prospective new residents by the El Dorado Chamber of Commerce just last week.

"We want to let these folks know that we want them here," Langston said. "We will welcome them with open, loving arms.'
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Title Annotation:tracking trends
Publication:Community College Week
Date:Aug 25, 2008
Words:260
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