The Jenkins Independent Board of Education voted unanimously this week to approve a plan to restructure the Jenkins Middle School by adding Grade 6 to Grades 7 and 8.
Superintendent Deborah Watts said Jenkins Middle High School Principal David Lee initiated the plan so sixth-graders could take a broader array of classes. She said students in Grade 6 who are working above their class level will be allowed to take higher-level classes if it is appropriate.
Watts said parents mostly are enthusiastic about expanded opportunities for their children and that Lee had assured them that the sixth-graders will be kept apart from older students except for those attending more advanced classes. Sixth grade students will stay in a separate section of the Middle High School building and will take their lunch separately as well. The reconfiguration will begin next fall at the beginning of the school year.
The board’s April meeting was held a week early because Board Chairman Durward Narramore and several board members will be attending the National School Boards Association Annual Conference in Boston from April 21 to 23. In response to questions from The Mountain Eagle, Narramore said the NSBA will pay his expenses and the Jenkins Independent Schools System will pay expenses for board members Eileen Sanders, Laura Revis, and Paulette Sexton. Narramore, who will take office as President of the Kentucky School Board Association next February, will also serve as a national representative to the conference from Kentucky.
Narramore said each board member will attend various training sessions and a comprehensive list of sessions and training at the Boston conference is available at the NSBA website (annualconference. nsba.org/ac2012/public/ enter.aspx). He said the Jenkins Schools System will receive training credit for the classes they attend, but added that the Kentucky School Board Association prefers to hold most of its training sessions in-state. Narramore said the national association has shortened the length of the conference to help defray expenses for school systems across the country and said he has attended every conference but two since he became a member of the Jenkins board.
Narramore said when he first attended the NSBA’s annual meeting he was shocked to see how out of step Kentucky schools were with others nationally but added that interacting with other board members from across the nation showed him that most systems, regardless of size, face many of the same problems. He said there will be sessions and classes to address about any school related topic any school board member might be interested in. Kentucky will have one of the largest delegations at the conference and Narramore said six or seven districts across the state will make presentations. Ed Massey of the Hebron School District in Northern Kentucky near Cincinnati will be installed as National President for 2012 – 2013.
Narramore said if board members’ spouses or family members attend they will be responsible for their own expenses and estimated about 12,000 school board members from all over the United States will attend. Keynote speakers for the conference have included General Norman Schwarzkopf, Secretary of State Colin Powell, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connell. Board member Eileen Sanders said attendees can plan their agendas on-line. She said she has registered for several sessions and will get training credit for them.
Narramore said if Jenkins citizens have questions they would like to ask him about the conference and other matters they may contact him or attend a board meeting and ask their questions in a public forum.
“The public should participate,” said Narramore. “We’re here to serve the students.”
In other business, McRoberts Principal Amanda Sturgill told the board that based on fall and winter pre-testing she and Burdine Principal Gracie Maggard expect to see overall improvements in test scores in the elementary schools. Superintendent Watts added that the Middle High School teachers and students have been working hard and praised Sturgill, Maggard and MHS Principal David Lee who was unable to attend the meeting due to a death in his family.
Watts singled out improvements in reading as being essential to overall improvement in education and Reading Revisited Program Director Sonja Breeding presented a DVD showing Jenkins MHS students talking about how the program had improved their reading skills, which led to overall academic improvement. The program features multiple genres and has instruction in speed reading and skimming as well. Watts said the MHS has instituted a similar intervention program in Math this year.
Superintendent Watts also said she would like to see the re-painting of the Cavalier sign at the railroad trestle in Jenkins move forward. The board agreed to use a Cavalier like the one at the old Consolidation Coal Co. Cavalier Prep Plant, and members agreed they would like to see the icon replaced at the railroad bridge where it was originally painted by JHS alumni Jared Tackett before being painted over.
Watts said she has spoken with representatives of the Little Shepherd of Kingdom Come Amphitheater, who had the original mural painted over, and she has been assured they will do whatever the board wants. The board agreed they would also like to include a centennial theme, and Paulette Sexton suggested “Excellence in Education Since 1912.”
“That wall is part of our heritage,” said Sexton.
In other board business:
• District Finance Officer Candala Gibson said the district’s finances reflect the coming end of the school year and said the general fund stands at $264,441.56. Gibson added that a check for unmined minerals taxes of $70,000 will come in this month as well.
• MHS Guidance Counselor Karen Corbett said she expects 16 to 20 students to participate in “dual credit” classes with the University of Pikeville next fall. Superintendent Watts said the district gets a discount on tuition rates for the attendees and the remainder is paid by the Jenkins system. Board Chairman Narramore praised the program and said it has been very successful for the system and students. Watts said dual credit programs increase college attendance.
• The board learned that pre-school and kindergarten registration was held at McRoberts Elementary on April 16. Burdine Elementary will hold pre-school registration on April 19.
• The board learned that two Jenkins High School alumni, Kentucky State Troopers Kristi Sexton and Derek Hall, are both members of Governor Steve Beshears’ executive protection detail.
• The board said it will consider instituting a permile charge for student activities that don’t fall under school sponsored, athletic, or SEEK (Support Educational Excellence in Kentucky) programs. The average cost per mile for surrounding districts was $1.25 and others ran as high as $3.00 per mile. The cost includes a school bus and driver. The board will take the matter under advisement.