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Jenkins board addresses truancy, attendance

As Jenkins Independent School administrators, teachers, and board members focus on trying to dig out from the poor test scores from the recently released No Child Left Behind results, several bright spots have emerged from student participation in the Kentucky Department of Education’s Student Technology Leadership Program, which was recently held at the East Kentucky Exposition Center in Pikeville.

The STLP Program was designed in 1994 by the STLP State Leadership Council to enhance student leadership and participation in technology activities, which can help schools and communities. It is aimed at providing leadership opportunities for all students and enhancing collaboration between students with different technology skills and forming partnerships with adults.

A number of Jenkins students participated in the STLP Fall Showcase at the East Kentucky Expo Center, which was one of eight statewide sites to host the showcase. Tammy Estep, technology coordinator at Burdine Elementary, and Amanda Holbrook, technology coordinator at McRoberts, presented their students and each gave a brief description of the projects they took to Pikeville for judging.

• DaLeigh Engle of McRoberts Elementary presented an instructional tool for pre-school to third-grade students which provides podcasts that can be uploaded to I-Pods or other media players.

• Maykala Boggs and Maykala Dugan of Burdine presented a “Shoebox Savior” project to provide necessities for Korean orphans.

• Freddie Johnson of Burdine created a web-book based on the Andrea Cheng books for young readers.

• Jaydon Holbrook of the middle high school showed the board his global project to combat cyber bullying which has its own websites, including interviews.

• Timmy Collier of the MHS worked with yearbook photos on-line to enhance the quality of the photographs.

• Clint Cook of the MHS showed his interactive fictional book about an Australian moose who wants to help pull Santa’s sleigh.

• MHS student Amanda Mullins presented a project designed to increase community participation in recycling.

Superintendent Deborah Watts complimented all the students and faculty advisors on their efforts and said the STLP has started to take off in the Jenkins system. Watts said she is pleased to see Jenkins students competing at the top levels. She also told the board the schools are focused on moving forward and everyone is working very hard to focus on improving.

Both elementary principals echoed Watts in saying they have emphasized moving forward. Burdine Principal Gracie Maggard told the board students at Burdine Elementary have focused recently on reading as part of National Young Readers week and the students totaled 752 books read in one week.

McRoberts Principal Amanda Sturgill said her students also participated in the National Young Readers Week and invited local “celebrities,” mostly high school athletes, to visit the school and read to students. Sturgill also reported that McRoberts held a Safety Committee meeting and has an evacuation plan prepared for emergencies, complete with a safety box which contains rosters of all students, along with other items of necessity.

The McRoberts PTO held a fundraising dinner at the school in November which raised $600 to provide Christmas presents for students and Citizens for a Better McRoberts will help out with obtaining playground equipment for pre-school students. Both elementary schools had ceremonies honoring veterans for the Veterans Day celebrations and both will participate in the Jenkins Christmas Parade on December 6.

Superintendent Watts reported on middle high school activities for November and told the board that students are working hard on improving test scores. Watts said teachers are holding monthly meetings to assess student progress and leadership teams are attending state trainings in language arts and math. Watts said the focus of the meetings is to encourage teachers to bring back new ideas to improve teaching methods.

Director of Pupil Personnel Harvey Tackett reported that average daily attendance from August 4 through November 17 stood at 92.38 percent. Grades one through six had an ADA of 93.48 and Tackett said the figure could easily top 94 percent if all goes well. Middle high school attendance is lower at 91.41 percent and Grade 12 (senior) attendance has dropped below 90 percent at 89.30.

Tackett also reported that elementary school nurses had 667 student visits from October 18 through November 16 and the MHS nurse saw 148 students. Stomach ailments with nausea and vomiting plagued the schools along with a good deal of sore throats and coughing.

In truancy diversion efforts, 27 student conferences were scheduled from October 25 through November 17 and 14 parent conferences were convened. Tackett reported making 22 phone calls to students’ homes and issuing 18 letters to Court Designated Worker Mike Watts. Legal charges were filed for 10 instances of truancy in Letcher County District Court. Daily e-mails are sent to all district recipients concerning student and teacher absences.

In other board business:

• Board Chairman Durward Narramore attended a Safe Schools Conference which focused on lock down procedures and included a Healthy Schools program that focused on obesity as not only a health hazard but a financial and learning problem as well. Narramore said training sessions revealed that schools of all sizes face similar problems in their districts.

• Technology Director Damien Johnson reported that all teachers have their own websites now and are posting homework assignments on line and creating teachers’ blogs at staff.Jenkins.KYschools.US.

• The board approved a craft fair on December 4 as a fundraiser for the junior class but declined to approve a King and Queen fundraiser for the McRoberts Winter Dance. Board Member Eileen Sanders said the project had been turned down last year for the same reason, that the king and queen were chosen by who accumulated the most money. Narramore said any such competition should be based on one vote per student and not on money.

• The board voted to approve the draft Comprehensive District Improvement Plan, which focuses heavily on improvements to math, writing, and reading a well as developing strategies to make sure students are ready to take the ACT tests. Superintendent Watts said the plan will be posted online for review and voted on at the December meeting.

• The board also approved the District Literacy Plan which focuses on reading improvements.

• Changes in the student handbook concerning attendance policies previously reported in The Mountain
were approved in the second reading. The revised policies are listed below by their number in the manual.

#2 — Students are allowed two notes from home (as excuses for absence) per semester. Additional notes from home will be dealt with at the discretion of the principal.

#3 — A note from home will be valid for two consecutive days only. If a student is so sick they need to miss more than two days of school, they should see a doctor. Extenuating circumstances will be dealt with at the principal’s discretion.

#4 — Death or severe illness in the pupil’s immediate family (father, mother, brother, sister, grandfather, grandmother) will be considered excused by the principal. Extenuating circumstances at the principal’s discretion.

#12 — (added as new rule) Once a student returns to school after an absence he or she will have up to three days to turn in a valid excuse to be deemed as an excused absence. After three days the absence will be listed as unexcused. Extenuating circumstances at principal’s discretion.

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