Whitesburg KY

Gifted and talented students being shortchanged in Jenkins, elsewhere

Gifted and talented students will continue to be shortchanged in Jenkins and throughout the state in the coming school year, according to Jan Tackett, director of curriculum and instruction for Jenkins Independent Schools. Tackett’s comments came in reply to a question from board member Benji Prunty about a negative comment concerning the Gifted and Talented Program in the Federal Programs report.

Tackett told the May meeting of the Jenkins Board of Education that the system does not have a teacher who is properly qualified to work with gifted and talented students. She said the situation is not exclusive to Jenkins and occurs at many schools throughout the state.

“The certification is very specific,” said Tackett. “We need to look at our options on the upcoming year in finding a qualified candidate.”

Tackett told the board the exacting requirements for maintaining the position and for certification make it difficult to hire a candidate and that very few education students are taking the G&T courses in college or in graduate programs. She said 75 percent of the state allocation for a gifted and talented teacher must go toward salary.

“People just aren’t getting this endorsement,” said Tackett. “We couldn’t find a teacher.”

In other business, the board received a report on new building security measures from security contractor Chad Anderson who has worked with Director of Pupil Personnel Harvey Tackett to upgrade the system’s building security. Anderson told the board that most security cameras in the various schools throughout the system are now colorized and they are all connected to a 16- channel DVR (digital video recorder) which has the ability to record all 16 cameras at the same time staff members may be playing back a particular section of a recording. He also said he has upgraded the viewing areas and cameras are now placed in all critical areas of each school including entrances, hallways, and other areas where an intruder could enter the buildings.

Anderson told the board that the principals had decided which areas in each building would be upgraded and said it would be very difficult for an intruder to get by the cameras as they are now placed. He said the computer based system is more efficient and makes for easier retrieval of a particular recording or situation. Harvey Tackett added that the process had been a team effort and that projects in each school had contributed funding for the upgrade.

Anderson also said the outdoor cameras automatically go from color to black and white at night to enhance the quality of the image and that outdoor cameras have some infra-red ability to make it easier to “see” at night. He said cameras are motion activated and sensors and panic buttons are placed in every classroom. The motion sensors were placed in McRoberts first due to a series of break-ins there earlier in the last school year. He told the board the changes represented a big improvement in security over the last three years.

Harvey Tackett also told the board that average daily attendance for the year was 92 percent for the district, 91.2 percent for the middle high school and 92.6 percent for the elementary schools. He said that while attendance is slightly down from 92.3 percent last year, it still reflects very favorably in comparison with some other districts in the region which had attendance averages in the 89- and 90-percent range.

The schools’ spotlight for May was on the building upgrade and repairs made throughout the system. The May meeting took place in the recently renovated library at Jenkins Middle High School and the board conducted a walkthrough of the entire building. One highlight was repairs to the band room where Superintendent John Shook said part of the roof had collapsed during repairs. Shook said loose brick and other construction materials had come through the roof but fortunately no students were present when it happened. The roof is now secure and repairs have been made to the band room, although the carpet bears the scars of the falling bricks. Contractors made roof repairs, replaced the heating and cooling towers, and upgraded and replaced floors and ceiling lighting and tiles. Shook proudly pointed out that the new color scheme features a lot more green. Jenkins’ school colors are green and white.

In other board business:

• Elementary Principal Diane Baker told the board that she had gotten test results back on all students before school was dismissed for the summer.

• Middle High School Principal Teresa Bentley said the Lady Cavs softball team had won the 53 District and had also won its first game in the regionals. (The team lost in the regional final.)

• Technical Director Damien Johnson said he plans to get document cameras for all three campuses. He said document cameras are the next generation of overhead projectors but with a much greater range of abilities including being attached to a microscope.

• Johnson also said he will attend meetings on the new state Student Information System which will be required by the Kentucky Department of Education. He said the system will go online in January 2009.

• The board approved the tentative budget for the school year. Superintended Shook said the working budget will be due in September. He said the budget had a one item jump from $43,000 to over $100,000 to meet requirements of the No Child Left Behind legislation introduced by President Bush. Shook said he had to open up the line item on some personnel and move it to other areas to compensate.

• Benji Prunty also pointed out an increase in substitute pay. Shook said the four-day calendar had initially reduced teacher absences but that people had days off coming and had taken them last year. Principal Baker also pointed out that she had several people on medical leave for much of the year and that two other teachers had been on maternity leave.

• Teachers and substitutes all received a one percent pay raise on the salary schedule for the upcoming year.

• The board tabled a discussion on Alternative Education until the June board meeting which will be held at the regular time at the Burdine Elementary School.

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