Whitesburg KY

Jenkins addresses student clothing, bullying

The Jenkins Independent Board of Education this week addressed a number of updates and changes in the Student Handbook and Code of Conduct.

Changes presented to the board by Director of Pupil Personnel Harvey Tackett ranged from housekeeping, such as removing language concerning Site Based Councils, to new policies that include a parent/ student user agreement form for “acceptable use” policies for technical equipment. Language was also modified to the effect that notes from home for absences will be up to the discretion of the school principal for the purpose of excusing absences.

The grievance process is clarified in the new handbook and bullying/hazing/harassment forms are included in the back of the manual. Tackett indicated that the system will take bullying, hazing, and harassment very seriously and said the language in the handbook is identical to the language of the Kentucky School Boards Association in its policy.

Changes in the dress code mandate that pants, dresses, and skirts are not to have inappropriate holes and no holes are allowed above the knee that do not have patches underneath. In-school suspension has replaced alternative education for suspended students and language was changed to that effect. In-school suspension is described in the handbook as well.

Students who do not meet college benchmarks for math and English will have to take a transitional course before they are allowed to graduate and end of course exams will count 20 percent of a student’s final grade. Final revisions in the handbook and policies must be in by July 22 in order for the handbooks and code of conduct to be ready for the beginning of the school term. The board voted to set its July meeting for July 11 to accommodate the need to approve the code.

Tackett also asked for a committee composed of coaches and the athletic director to be formed to determine the procedure for allowing student/athletes to practice or to participate in a game on the same day they missed all or part of a school day. The committee will determine what if any excuse will be accepted to allow for participation and will report to Tackett and Superintendent Deborah Watts in time to have the policy included in the student handbook.

Superintendent Watts told the board that money will be tight in the coming school year. Watts said this year’s budget had been very tight and that nothing different should be expected for the coming year.

“We hope to stay within our budget next year,” said Watts. “That’s the plan. It’s been a hard year.”

Watts told the board the district has been able to hire back a number of non-tenured teachers who had received notices that they would not be rehired and said postings for English and math positions would be necessary as well. She also said middle high school English teacher Whitney Prater had resigned to get married and will leave the Jenkins area.

Watts also told the board the system will participate with AdvanceKentucky (Jenkins was one of 20 schools named in April as a new participant) in implementing the AP Teacher Training and Incentive Program. (APTIP). This program involves contentrich teacher training and extensive support and incentives for students and teachers for achieving qualifying scores on Advanced Placement (AP) exams in math, science and English.

AdvanceKentucky is funded by a $13.2 million grant from the National Math and Science Initiative (NMSI), which is supported by ExxonMobil, Dell and Gates Foundations, Lockheed and others. Kentucky sponsors include the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) including $500,000 for expansion to new schools during the 2011- 12 school year, Council on Postsecondary Education, and Kentucky Science and Technology Corporation. AdvanceKentucky has received federal grants from Appalachian Regional Commission and U.S. Department of Education through KDE.

Watts said students who participate in AdvanceKentucky AP programs can receive college credit and that programs are open to all who wish to participate. Students may choose to take the exam that will qualify them for college credit, or not, and may make their decision during the course. The Jenkins system will participate in English and science for a three-year period and Watts added that the system also hopes to participate in mathematics as well.

Middle high school Principal Lisa Barker told the board that 35 seniors participated in graduation ceremonies on June 10 and said the school had held a senior breakfast in the school cafeteria to celebrate. Barker said the breakfast was held after the regular breakfast and was for seniors only. Seniors dressed for the event and Principal Barker said they enjoyed it a great deal.

Barker also told the board that two seniors, Sierra Kiser and Leisha Fleming, signed softball scholarships with the University of Pikeville and that the staff is doing training this summer on advanced placement courses and pre-AP courses as part of AdvanceKentucky. Folk singers Mitch Barrett and Melody Youngblood entertained students at the middle high school during the last weeks of school as well.

Technology Director Damien Johnson reported that the proxy server, which keeps track of system-wide Internet activity, has been upgraded with the Microsoft Threat Management Gateway Project service, Johnson said the system is on a six-month trial and may replace the current third-party security system.

Johnson also said the temporary sound system, which performed well at the graduation ceremonies, will be replaced by a permanent system in an effort to overcome the “terrible acoustics” in the high school gymnasium. He said the new system will have five separate controllable zones for different parts of the gym according to need and an equalizer that once set, will be password locked so it can’t be tampered with. Johnson said the new sound system is grant funded and won’t cost the school system anything.

Johnson also asked the board to declare a number of Apple eMac computers as surplus. He said the eMacs were among the first lot received in the system’s participation with Data Seam and have been replaced with newer Macs. The computers will be given to the attendance committee for use as rewards for students with perfect or near perfect attendance. The board voted unanimously in favor of his request. Johnson also told the board the initial offer from Kentucky Educational Technology System will give JHS an extra $6,011 for technology uses.

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