2017-07-26 / News

Cell phone use is out at Jenkins schools

By WILLIAM FARLEY

Students in the Jenkins Independent School System will not be allowed to use cellular telephones in classrooms this school year, a school official said this week.

The new cell phone rule is included in the 2017 Student Handbook presented to the Jenkins Independent Board of Education Monday night by Jenkins Middle/High School math teacher Thomas Pinion.

Pinion said each student will be provided with a Google Chrome Book notebook computer, which will make cell phones unnecessary.

In presenting the new handbook to the board, Pinion said there were few changes from last year’s handbook.

Teachers will document incidences of discipline and grade adjustments were made for summer school and credit recovery. The board approved the handbook and also approved the Staff Handbook, which was prepared by the Kentucky School Boards Association to accommodate changes in state laws.

Board Chair Eileen Sanders pointed out that a change will need to be made to accommodate the dual credit participation with Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College and to remove language concerning the Wise County Vocational School, which is no longer in effect.

In other business, the board approved increases in meal prices for adults in the school cafeterias. Students will continue to eat at no cost, but the price for breakfast for adults was raised to $2.50. The price for an adult lunch is $4.

The board voted to authorize creation of a position to oversee Career and Technology Development. The person who is hired will teach coding and other computer technology-related subjects and work with career development and dual credit programs. Pinion, the math teacher, and Technology Director Damian Johnson both said the new teacher should be a specialist in computer science. The board also voted to move ahead with plans to offer dual credit courses through Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College to high school students in the upper classes.

Finance Officer Candala Gibson told the board that the school system will start the year with $805,289.05 cash on hand.

Gibson said the system received an unexpected $78,000 in delinquent tax collections, although property tax collections for the year were down by $23,000. Franchise fees brought in another $88,000, and the system ended the year a surplus of $177,000 over the budgeted amount for the 2016–2017 school year.

Gibson also showed the board the annual financial report that is presented to the Kentucky Department of Education. She said it had already been submitted as a test draft and the KDE had pointed out a couple of things that need attention, but everything had been in balance. The report showed $903,452 for the coming year. She added that the report has not been audited yet.

The board voted to approve a $20 per hour Professional Learning Stipend for teachers who attend training sessions on their own time. The training sessions are usually conducted during the summer or when school is not in session and Thomas Pinon, who served as acting principal in the 2015–2017 school year, said that by taking the courses on their own time, the teachers save the district money on hiring substitutes and do not disrupt the school year by being out of the classroom. The system pays the teachers’ expenses but up until now there has been no compensation for the training time. Superintendent Mike Genton added that teachers have to be sent by the school and can’t just go on their own.

The board voted to allow Jenkins staff members to participate in the Letcher County Schools Credit Union, which is administered through Letcher County Schools. Jenkins teachers also have access to the Commonwealth Credit Union and can participate with it as well. Participation in either credit union is voluntary.

Technology Director Damian Johnson gave the annual Data Security Update, which is required to be complete by August 31 each year. Johnson identified a number of issues including record protection, online privacy, data security, and security breaches. He said the system has taken adequate measures to prevent breaches and to ensure confidentiality and there has never been a data breach in the Jenkins System. The board also voted to declare items as surplus that Johnson said he found in a final sweep following last month’s disposal of surplus technology.

The board discussed changing the web page provider to Apptegy. Johnson said he had looked at the company and it has a lot to offer. Superintendent Genton recommended waiting until December to take any official action, He said that will allow the system to finish out the contract with the current provider and Johnson will have until next August to get the new system implemented.

In other board decisions:

• The board voted to approve the contract to provide a school nurse with the Kentucky River Health Department.

• The board voted to approve a Memorandum of Understanding with UNITE to provide a drug abuse prevention specialist to schools.

• The board conducted the first reading of policy updates mandated by the Kentucky Department of Education.

• The board approved the contract with Letcher County Schools to provide occupational and physical therapy specialists twice a week.

• The board approved new volleyball uniforms.

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