Whitesburg KY

Ex-Jenkins principal finally gets hearing set

The Jenkins Independent Board of Education has finally set a date to hear the appeal of a former Jenkins Middle High School principal who was demoted to the classroom earlier in the current school year.

The board this week scheduled March 5 as the date it will hear the appeal filed by former principal Teresa Bentley after Bentley was demoted to an elementary school teacher by new Superintendent Debbie Watts. The hearing is set to begin at 5 p.m., and will take place at the district’s central office.

Board Chairman Durward Narramore Jr. told the board at its January meeting that three possible dates had been agreed on by all parties and the board chose March 5 with a possible carry-over date of March 6 if required. Bentley attended the meeting, but made no comment.

In other business, the board heard a resolution by Jenkins Mayor Charles Dixon praising its efforts as part of National School Board Recognition Month. Dixon told the board members that sometimes elective office is challenging, but that he appreciates their efforts in making Jenkins Schools the best system they can. Dixon is a retired history teacher with the Jenkins system who attended school there as well.

Dixon told the board he fondly remembers educator C.V. Snapp, who was superintendent at Jenkins when he was a student. Dixon said there were small windows in each classroom door in the old Jenkins High School building and that he eventually learned what they were for.

“C.V. Snapp would walk around the building and stand in front of the doors and watch the class through the window,” said Dixon. “If a teacher was sitting down at his desk, He would open the door and ask them, ‘Why are you sitting at your desk? Get up and teach.'”

Dixon said that during Snapp’s long tenure as superintendent, the Jenkins schools were among the best in Kentucky. He said a former student told him that on his first day in a history class at Morehead State University, his teacher asked him where had attended high school. When the student said Jenkins, the teacher said, “Well, you should be well prepared for college history then.”

Dixon also asked the board to join the city in planning for its 100th anniversary in 2012. The school and the city were both built by Consolidation Coal Company and were completed in 1912.

Superintendent Watts told the board the staff and faculty have implemented a common assessment for all students to determine what areas they may need help with. Watts said the assessment will be given at least 50 days before CATS testing in order to see who needs help with a particular subject area. She said missed days due to bad weather have upset schedules somewhat but the staff and Central Office are thinking strategically to prepare for the CATS tests which are scheduled for May 1.

The subject of pending cuts in primary and secondary education funding from the state was raised again at the January meeting and the news has not gotten better.

District Financial Officer Candala Gibson presented the the board with a preliminary draft budget for approval, but warned that a recent communication from the office of Governor Steve Beshear warned that further cuts may be necessary. She said the budget was made to accommodate the current cuts of 2.5 percent, but that cuts could run as high as an additional four percent. Narramore again warned that the state’s action is setting up a situation where schools cannot be supported with local school taxes much longer.

Superintendent Watts also presented the Comprehensive District Improvement Plan to the board. Watts said the plan focuses heavily on improving math instruction and scores as well as placing heavy emphasis on reading. She said reading is basic to education and that without a solid background in reading it is difficult for students to make progress in other subjects. Watts said the enhanced math instruction will focus not only on helping students who are having difficulty with math but in providing challenging and beneficial instruction to students who are gifted in math as well. She said the final plan will be submitted for approval at the February board meeting and invited the public to view the plan on the board’s website and make suggestions through Central Office.

In other business, the board heard a report on preliminary planning for the Senior Trip from Senior Sponsor Brian Breeding. Breeding told the board that a destination has not been chosen, but that seniors were united in wanting to go someplace warm. He said that each student will be responsible for raising funds for the trip, with the expected cost being about $400 per student.

The board also heard that student attendance for the district stood at 92.1 percent. The elementary schools had a 93.1 rate and the middle high school had a 91.3 rate as of January 13.

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