2017-08-30 / Front Page

Jenkins needs more teachers, but paying them would be hard

By WILLIAM FARLEY

Money will be tight in Jenkins Independent Schools this year and the budget may contribute to some overcrowding in grades one and two at Burdine Elementary School.

At the August meeting of the Jenkins Independent Board of Education, the board was told that the first and second grades are crowded with 28 and 30 students respectively. Burdine Elementary Principal Stacy Collier said the large numbers concern her, particularly in the vitally important first two years of primary school.

After hearing the report, board members and Superintendent Mike Genton looked to Finance Officer Candala Gibson for guidance, asking if the district can afford another full-time teacher.

Genton estimated that a teacher with benefits would cost about $100,000, plus another $50,000 for an aide. Gibson said that as of Monday evening, whether it could be afforded was uncertain because she has not received tax rate suggestions, including the compensating rate, from the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE). The compensating rate is the tax rate that will keep the district’s tax receipts at the same level as in the past school year.

Gibson told the board that the schools may also need another special education teacher, and that the technology teacher and special education bus run which were recently approved were not included in the working budget. Board member Brenda DePriest asked when Gibson will have the information she needs and Gibson said she will know more by the end of the week. Genton said the extra expenditures, if approved, would probably come out of the carryover funds from last year and Board Chairman Eileen Sanders added that Burdine Elementary is technically slightly overstaffed according to the number of elementary students. DePriest also said that the extra money recently received from delinquent taxes was a onetime affair as well. Genton suggested the board members table the matter until they get more information about finances, and address it at a special meeting on September 11 when his evaluation will also be addressed. The board voted unanimously to table.

The board voted to give Superintendent Genton until the next regular meeting to examine a list of job titles that have been created by the board from 2005 until the present. Genton said none of the jobs on the list are currently filled and some haven’t been filled for quite a while. If the list is complete, the board will vote next month on whether to eliminate the job titles.

Superintendent Genton also asked the board to look at the possibility of making a one-time donation of between $5,000 and $7,000 to the athletic fund to stabilize the fund and serve as a startup that will allow revenue producing sports to share gate receipts across the program with all sports to allow the athletic program to be self-sufficient. Genton said in other schools he is familiar with the program has worked well and added that the amount he suggested is relatively small.

In a related matter, Gibson reported that as of July 31, the general fund stood at $968,369.22. The board also heard from Sherry Sexton, who manages the Kentucky Utilities Energy Conservation Program. For participating in the Energy Savings Program, the middle high school received $9,473, 10 percent of overall energy savings, and Burdine Elementary received $1,800.

Board Member Sarah Brown said it shows a commitment to students, but Pauline Sexton asked if the board should give money to athletics if it can’t afford to hire a teacher. Genton said the amount is small compared to what it will take for a teacher and aide and added that by now coaches have been trained in finances and the amount will serve as seed money. The board voted to address the matter after Finance Officer Gibson has a working budget.

Genton also told the board that Chris Hatton, who has participated in bass fishing tours as a professional fisherman, has volunteered to serve as bass fishing coach and that he has a boat as well. Board Member Chris Bentley said from what he has heard, students are excited at the prospect of a bass fishing team and the board voted unanimously to approve the program.

Principal Collier reported that Burdine Elementary teachers will focus on “Words This Way,” as a way of emphasizing different ways to teach spelling She said that rather than repetitive writing, they will show different letter patterns in similar words, such as “cat and can.” She added that teachers have completed student growth plans and their own professional development plans.

Collier said now that the school’s interior and roof have been addressed, it is time to look at the outside of the building and grounds, including the playground. She said she will form a committee to include community members who sometimes use the facility on weekends and parents of students, and will begin fundraising efforts to work on playground upgrades.

Genton told the board high school teachers have completed all their training and both open houses were well attended. He added that seven high school students are participating in dual credit courses at the University of Pikeville this semester. Director of Pupil Personnel Rondall Baker reported 96 percent attendance at present and said the enrollment now stands at 418. High school math teacher and Assistant Principal Thomas Pinion has resigned to accept a principal’s position with Pike County Schools.

In other business addressed at Monday’s meeting:

• The board voted to allow Family Heritage Insurance to be added to companies that can sell supplemental insurance to staff members.

• The board voted to accept the Substitute Teacher Information form to use for substitute teachers for the year.

• The board voted to approve policy updates mandated by the KDE.

• The board voted to hire a speech therapist under the same terms as last year.

• The board voted to ascertain that it has no policies to prevent constitutionally protected prayer in schools. The policy is mandated by Governor Bevin’s office.

• The board extended the school day at Burdine Elementary by five minutes, with dismissal at 3:05 p.m. to accommodate bus routes and ease traffic problems.

• The board voted to contact someone who has offered to demolish old bleachers on the guest side at the football field at no cost, but will get the scrap metal. The new bleachers are at the school and ready to be installed.

• The board also voted to participate in a Kentucky School Boards Association lawsuit in protest of the rate increase by Kentucky Power Co. Superintendent Genton said the board will share costs will at least 17 other schools and its share should not exceed $2,000.

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