If no more school days are missed and spring break remains in place, the last day of school for students in Jenkins Independent Schools will be June 9. Director of Pupil Personnel Harvey Tackett told the Jenkins Board of Education at its February meeting that if spring break is left in place from April 4 to April 8, the system will meet the state requirement of 175 days by ending the school year on June 9. The board voted tentatively to accept Tackett’s calendar, but will revisit it when it decides if spring break will be cancelled this year.
Superintendent Deborah Watts told the board the reason spring break has been kept in light of the number of days missed because of weather is to allow for Jenkins High School seniors to take a senior trip without missing instructional days. However, Senior Sponsor Beth Dorsey reported that because of the days missed and because two senior sponsors are suffering from extended illnesses, fundraising efforts have lagged to the point that the original plan of going to Disney World in Orlando, Fla., is no longer feasible. Dorsey said that at present, seniors have raised almost $6,000, which she said is just over half the amount they would need for an Orlando trip.
Dorsey proposed an alternate trip, which will allow the 20 seniors who have indicated an interest in participating to take a three-day trip that would run from Friday after school till Monday evening and only cause one day of absences. Watts said the board will need to examine the proposal carefully and take a number of factors into consideration, including testing windows and substitute teachers during the test period. She said that at this time, the Kentucky Department of Education has not set new testing dates in consideration of the weather-related school closings. Election Day and Memorial Day school closings remain unchanged.
Dorsey also asked the board for help in locating faculty help for other senior sponsors. She said she had initially just volunteered to help, but with the illness of the other two sponsors, she is now the lone sponsor and the load is difficult. Board Vice Chairman Tracy Goff, who conducted the meeting, asked Dorsey if the board could have a little time to consider the alternatives, in the absence of board Chairman Durward Narramore Jr., who didn’t make it to the meeting until after Dorsey’s report and board member Laura Reevis, who was absent. Goff said after the board has received information on test windows from the DOE, it can call a special meeting to set a date for a senior trip.
In other business, DPP Tackett reported that cumulative district attendance for the school year stands at 92.1 percent and emphasized the importance of regular attendance. Tackett said the Truancy Diversion Program is having a positive effect on attendance and praised Letcher County District Judge Kevin Mullins and Court Appointed Worker Mike Watts for their efforts in preventing ongoing truancies with students who have been referred to the program.
Tackett said that as of February 23, 58 student/parent conferences were held, legal charges have been filed in four cases and final notices have been served in three cases. Tackett said that in extreme cases, students who were habitually truant and who have committed criminal offenses in or out of school have been sentenced to detention in the Breathitt County Juvenile Facility. He said that Judge Mullins shares his belief that students who are simply truant are better served by being in school and that they both work to see that is the case.
School nurses reported that flu-like symptoms have occurred on the middle high school campus and the Burdine Campus. The school nurse at the MHS saw 265 students between January 19 and February 22 and the Burdine nurse saw 368 students during the same period. In most cases, students were able to remain at school. Tackett said the nurses have made a big difference in keeping attendance figures high.
Tackett, who is also Safe Schools coordinator, said that Dessie Bowling, Kentucky Valley Educational Cooperative Safe Schools director, had held a suicide awareness presentation on February 22 and attendance was mandatory for all JMHS certified staff. He added that measures are underway to require photo identification badges for all staff members and to initiate regular lunchtime visits with Jenkins police officers.
Tackett said the officer visits are intended for students to develop a positive relationship with officers and to take a proactive approach in developing an atmosphere so students will see officers as individuals with whom they can have friendly relationships, rather than as someone who is there to make an arrest. He said he hopes to expand the program to include Kentucky State troopers and Letcher County Sheriff ’s Department deputies as well. He also said a drug dog will be brought to the campus at random times and Drug Awareness Programs will be coordinated through the Hazard State Police Post.
In other business conducted by the board:
• Watts and board member Eileen Sanders attended “Kids Day” at the Kentucky General Assembly. Watts said they joined 150 other superintendents and board members in exploring educational bills with legislators.
• Burdine Principal Gracie Maggard reported that a teacher evaluation update was held for both elementary campuses and that the elementary school is participating in a pilot project in the region to develop an evaluation process.
• The Letcher County Health Department conducted physical examination for all elementary students.
• Pre-school registration will begin in March for Burdine and McRoberts.
• The board approved an overnight field trip to Wilderness at the Smokies for sixth graders. The trip will include an overnight stay and a water park visit at the Wilderness resort and visits to the Ripley’s Aquarium and Believe It or Not in Gatlinburg.
• DPP Tackett presented a revised proposal to clarify holidays for 12-month staff. Tackett said the five designated holidays specified by the board should be revised to allow for designated days if the holiday falls on Saturday. The board voted unanimously to accept the proposal.
• The board voted unanimously to commit to the Commonwealth Commitment Pledge, to raise the number of college-ready students from the Jenkins system from 13 percent to 57 percent by 2015.