The Jenkins Independent Schools Board of Education held a special meeting November 7 to receive information from several state reports, including the budget and the all important test scores. Overall, the report showed improvement, but the elementary school has dropped off to some degree and a slight gain at the middle school was not enough to place it in a higher category. Superintendent Deborah Watts told the board that the District Delivery Targets show that Jenkins High School was a High Progress
(Proficient) School, while the middle school and elementary school fall into the “Needs Improvement” rating.
In overall scores, the high school improved to 61.84, a gain of 15.3. The middle school also improved to 51.6, a 2.9 gain, but the elementary school dropped to 47.4, a loss of 8.4. Superintendent Watts said that statewide, a lot of elementary schools had dropped points but promised that the staff at Burdine Elementary, the district’s only elementary school since McRoberts Elementary was closed last summer, is already working to correct the problem.
Jenkins High School has a graduation rate of 95.2 percent and Superintendent Watts said it is very close to the state average on the American College Test, which is one of five factors used to calculate overall rates of achievement for schools. She also emphasized the importance of keeping attendance rates high, saying “kids must get to school in order to learn.”
Watts said district staff has responded well to the release of the test scores and is eager to move forward on the information supplied in the release. She emphasized the high quality of the teachers at Burdine Elementary and said the drop in scores will be addressed.
“We have great teachers at Burdine Elementary,” said Watts. “They are very professional and they were devastated when the scores dropped.”
The finalized budget report calls for overall operational expenditures of $3,753,911, with the majority of the funding coming from state SEEK (Support Education Excellence Kentucky) funding at $2,600,194. Even with the higher property taxes, the district will only take in $ 375,000 from general property taxes and $106,000 from motor vehicle taxes. Staffing will account for the largest expenditure with 73 percent of the total budget being spent on salaries for teachers and staff.
Watts and Board Chairman Durward Narramore Jr. both referenced the state legislature’s refusal to fund education in Kentucky at the levels promised when the Kentucky Educational Reform Act was passed. Watts said the ongoing reduction in state funding is her main budgetary concern
Narramore told the board that efforts from districts around the state are underway to see that the state increases funding, but it will be difficult and will definitely take a statewide effort. He added that the current emphasis on forcing local taxing districts to make up the losses created by the state reductions is not the way to go, and said the General Assembly has not kept the commitment it made when KERA was passed.
“Taking it (funding education) back to the local level is not the way,” said Narramore. “There is a lot of opposition to higher local taxes. The state should step up and do what they said they would do when KERA came in.”
Watts said she believes the district will have a good year this year and praised the staff for its dedication. “ The staff worked as hard as I’ve ever seen people work last year.”