At Monday evening’s meeting of the Jenkins Independent Schools Board of Education, Superintendent Mike Genton discussed recent developments that include the passage of legislation allowing for charter schools in Kentucky. Genton defined charter schools, described the regulations they are and are not subject to, and said that in Kentucky, school boards will be able to extend a charter for a charter school, except in Lexington and Louisville, where the mayor’s office will have that power. Genton told the board that few people in public education favor charter schools
“We are not willing to fund public education (in Kentucky) the way it should be funded. We shouldn’t fund charter schools,” said Genton.
Governor Matt Bevin signed HB 520 into effect last week to allow for charter schools in Kentucky. The 37-page bill requires applicants who want to start a charter school to explain how the school’s educational program will improve as a charter school, and how it will serve to improve the education of underserved and under-performing student populations. Applicants will also have to explain their plan for staffing, curriculum, policies, and testing procedures.
State Representative Rep. John “Bam” Carney, a Campbellsville Republican, sponsored House Bill 520. It passed the Senate with a vote of 23-15 around 4:50 p.m. on March 15 and five hours later, it passed the Kentucky House 53-43. The bill was one of the most controversial bills passed during the current session and passed mostly along party lines. Several legislators were outraged at the lack of debate the bill was given in both Houses by the Republicans who control them, and several Democrats have said they may sue to stop the bill on Constitutional Grounds. U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos also favors charter schools. Including Kentucky, 44 U.S. states allow for charter schools.
Public organizations, private organizations, and any combination of teachers, school administrators, and citizens can apply to start a charter school, and charter schools will enjoy more freedom and flexibility in exchange for “exceptional results.” However, charter schools will still be held to many of the same standards as public schools, including criminal background checks for staff and faculty and open records laws.
Higher than usual temperatures this winter and spring have reduced the number of snow days for local students, and this was reflected in the announcement of end of the year ceremonies. Barring any incidents that cause the schools to close, May 11 will be the last day of school for students, and graduation for seniors will take place May 12. The senior breakfast will also be held on May 11 and the eighth-grade graduation ceremony will be on May 9. The prom will be held on May 6 and the seniors’ march will take place on March 8. Spring break will be held between April 3 and 7, and the dates for the senior trip will be April 13-15.
In other business, Assistant High School Principal Thomas Pinion reported that testing in March included the MAP Tests, Career Ready Work Keys Testing, and the American College Test (ACT) for juniors, which was held on March 21. Seniors will go to Cincinnati for the senior trip and will stay at Great Wolf Lodge. They will attend a Cincinnati Reds game, go to Kings Island, and use the water park facilities at Great Wolf Lodge. The eighth-grade trip to Dollywood will take place on May 9.
Director of Pupil Personnel Rondall Baker told the board that attendance has recently been high and currently stands at 94.3 He said that last week, several classes had 100 percent attendance and added that the current enrollment is 444.
Representatives from Hazard Community and Technical College visited the school in March to speak to students, recruiters from the U.S. Marine Corps visited, and suicide prevention classes were held. Pinion also announced that the Reading Recovery Grant has been extended and will now cover a period of four years rather than the original two. Jenkins participates in the grant, which is funded by the Reading Recovery Council of North America.
Several students from Jenkins recently attended the day-long Young Women Lead Conference at Eastern Kentucky University. Caitlyn Collier, who directs the Gear Up College and Career Program, introduced Trinity Beauparlant and Destiny Heiston, who described the confidence-building programs featured at the conference. In addition to Beauparlant and Heiston, Katelyn Breeding and Kayla Trotter attended. All four were presented with certificates for completing the program.
The board saw a slideshow presentation from representatives of Hillyard, a manufacturer and distributor of cleaning supplies and chemicals based in Missouri. Local representative Michael Vernon and Lexington Manager Kenneth Jones conducted the presentation. Jones told the board that Letcher County Schools use the program and Superintendent Genton said he will speak with LCS Superintendent Tony Sergent and bring a recommendation to the next board meeting.
The board heard from Sherry Sexton, who manages the Kentucky Power Energy Conservation Program. Sexton told the board that by participating in the program, the system saved $62,218.92 in 2017.
District Finance Officer Candala Gibson reported that as of the end of February, the general fund stood at $749,128.60, She also said the SEEK Calculation of $120,995 was higher than expected. Sealed bids for disposal of surplus buses were opened and Greg Niece submitted the only bid, consisting of $100 for each bus. Genton said neither bus is operational and Niece will remove them from school property. The board voted unanimously to approve his bid.
Information about charter schools in this article came from web articles provided by Kentucky.com, and WDRD and WHAS in Louisville.