A Canadian-based energy services company has donated $100,000 to the Jenkins Independent School System to help the system provide Apple iPad computer tablets to students.
The gift was announced this week during the August meeting of the Jenkins Independent Schools Board of Education. Board Chairman Durward Narramore Jr. introduced George Wice, manager of the Ferus LP plant at Gateway Industrial Park in Jenkins and told the board that he had asked Wice for a grant of $85,000 to purchase iPads for sixth grade students at Jenkins Middle School. Narramore said not only did Ferus honor his request, the natural gas service industry went further and granted the school system $100,000.
Ferus manufactures liquid nitrogen at the Jenkins plant for use in the natural gas drilling industry.
In other business, the board was introduced to several new teachers. Principal David Lee introduced the new staff for the Middle High School. Teachers John Olivia, Sarah Blackstone, Mallory Hall, Adrian Gearhart, Gwinn Day, Zack Parsons, and Jared Green will join the MHS staff. Burdine Elementary Principal Stacy Collier introduced Sarah Campbell and Amy McDougal as new teachers for the elementary school.
Superintendent Deborah Watts said three positions remain vacant because of resignations that took place just as the school year was getting underway. Watts said she would soon be interviewing for a school librarian and technology teacher for the MHS, and one elementary school teacher and an in-school suspension teacher as well.
Letcher County Parks and Recreation Director Derek Barto also visited the meeting and told the board he will do all he can to help the system address problems on the Burdine Elementary playground. Barto said he has already ordered a new swingset for the school and will work with Director of Pupil Personnel Rondall Baker on other matters that were identified on the most recent School Safety Report. Barto said the Parks and Recreation Department would work with the school on the overall playground, basketball goals, and other items.
Barto said Letcher County Judge/Executive Jim Ward has authorized him to do all that he is legally able to do, and that Ward also made a personal donation to the school. He added that he would write a grant proposal for a new playground for smaller children as well. Barto said most of the kids have said they want new basketball goals first.
“I’ll do as much as I can,” said Barto.
Burdine Principal Collier told the board that Burdine staff and students are working on back to school routines such as fire drills and lockdowns, as well as earthquake and tornado warnings. She said there are currently about 250 students in the elementary schools and the McRoberts teachers have successfully been integrated into the staff and will be a tremendous asset to the Burdine campus. Collier said the PTO worked on a food both for Jenkins Days and the proceeds went to the students. Superintendent Watts added that the Dolly Parton Imagination Library would work with the elementary schools as well.
Middle School Principal Serena Anderson gave the MHS report and told the board that teachers are training in project-based learning. She said a grant from Appalachian Higher Learning will allow JHS students to visit colleges during the year and added that they have initiated “Cavalier Calls,” calls to students’ homes to deliver praise for academic and personal achievements. DPP Baker told the board that attendance for the new year stands at 94.83 percent and the overall enrollment is 522, with three new students expected to register this week.
District Financial Officer Candala Gibson told the board the General Fund currently holds $448,134.59 and Federal Programs Director Sherry Wright added that the Title One Fund for the year is $313,313.00. Wright said there are 38 students in the Burdine Elementary Pre School.
In other board business:
• the board praised the efforts of football boosters and told the group that if they are interested in working on middle and elementary school football programs they should work through Athletic Director Karen Corbett.
• Charles Maxell of Kingsport told the board he operates a charter bus system that is fully licensed and insured. Maxwell said he would volunteer his buses for no charge to transport students and student athletes for school trips and to games.
• the board learned that technical equipment from McRoberts Elementary (closed in July) has been installed at Burdine Elementary.
• the board approved a contract to share student health information with the Kentucky River Heath Department.