At one time it was generally forbidden for students to eat at their desks in most schools, but as the importance of school nutrition has become more evident, things have changed.
The Jenkins Independent Schools Board of Education learned at its March meeting that a new program that takes breakfast foods directly into morning classrooms has more than doubled the number of meals served daily in Pike County Schools and has increased the number of students eating breakfast dramatically. Sabrina Thompson, food service director at Pike County Schools, told the Jenkins board that by taking breakfast to classrooms, Pike County Schools has decreased the number of students who are hungry in the morning with the cooperation of teachers, administrators, custodians, and food service personnel.
Thompson said the program started in August and took about two or three weeks to begin running smoothly. Food service personnel load carts with fruit, milk, cereal, whole grain donuts, and biscuits with sausage or other meats in them and take them to the classrooms. Hot and cold bags are used to keep foods at the proper temperature and the in-room meal takes about 10 minutes. The garbage is then placed in bags where custodians pick it up in the hallways. Thompson said Pike County Schools, like Jenkins Independent Schools, participates with the National Food Service Program in the Community Eligibility Option to provide food service at no charge to students and added that since breakfast is the lowest cost meal of the day, it helps to lower the cost of school lunches as well.
“If you take it to them, they will eat,” said Thompson. She added that in August 2010, Pike County Schools served 49,771 meals and in August 2011, they served 142,000 school meals.
Thompson said that it took a little work to get everyone on board among food service workers, teachers and principals, but they are enthusiastic about it now. She said teachers have expressed their delight at seeing students who obviously aren’t getting enough to eat at home be able to have a morning meal. Meals are planned at the Central Office and great care is taken to make sure students have a variety of healthy choices for breakfast and lunch. She said that since students eat in the familiar atmosphere of a classroom and don’t have to stand in line, more are willing to have breakfast. And since all meals are served to students at no cost, no one knows who is on free or reduced lunch and who is not, so that stigma is removed. Thompson said teachers have said they enjoy eating with their students and while teachers have to pay for their meals, they can make arrangements to have the cost deducted from their regular pay.
According to a report by Share Our Strength, an organization made up of teachers that works to fight hunger in schools, 66 percent of schools report that either “most” or “a lot” of their students rely on school meals as a primary source of nutrition. An article in the September 10, 2010 edition of USA Today about a Breakfast in Class program in Pueblo, Colo., schools reported that U.S. Department of Agriculture figures showed that the number of U.S. households that cannot consistently put food on the table had risen to 17 million or 14 percent by 2008 and that the percentage of students receiving free or reduced cost meals at school had risen to 62.5 percent by 2009. The Share Our Strength website reports that more than 65 percent of America’s teachers report regularly seeing students come to school hungry because they don’t get enough to eat at home and a number of the teachers have bought food for students out of their own pockets. Nutritionists and educators say that hungry students cannot perform up to their potential academically.
The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 was passed with the purpose of reducing hunger in American schools as well as improving school nutrition and reducing obesity. According to the USDA Website, the law allows the agency the opportunity to make real reforms in school lunch and breakfast programs by improving the critical nutrition and hunger safety net for millions of American children. The School Breakfast Program is an integral part of that program.
In other business, the question of school colors was revisited when board Vice Chairman Tracy Goff said he had been asked by the boys’ high school basketball boosters if the board’s rules on athletic uniforms also apply to travel clothing if it is purchased by the boosters. Board Chairman Durward Narramore Jr. said the question has been revisited too often and added that it isn’t the student athletes who continue to bring it up.
“What makes this an issue is you have adults who don’t do what they need to be doing,” said Narramore.
Goff said he doesn’t want to tell students specifically what to wear to travel to games, but he believes the question needs to be clarified and the board needs a consistent policy. He added that Jenkins’s colors, Kelly green and white, are more expensive because Kelly green is not as common as regular green. The board voted unanimously that travel suits provided by booster organizations or the school are subject to the board’s rules regarding uniforms. Board policy is that the primary colors are green and white and that a third color can only be used to highlight the two primary colors.
Technology Director Damien Johnson told the board Jenkins students had participated in the state Student Technology Leadership Program championships and had come away with a first place, a second place and an honorable mention. “Fundraising for the Future,” a fundraising/entrepreneurial program from Jenkins elementary students Emma Maggard, Morgan Henson, Emilee Rose, and Alyssa Rose took first place, “Video Messages from Santa Claus” a fundraising/entrepreneurial program from Jenkins High School students Jeremiah Keel and Brooklyn King took second place, and “The Inside Scoop with BBK,” an elementary newscast from Braydyn Fleming, Breaunna Rose, and Keiley Bentley, received an honorable mention.
Johnson also reported that he had participated in another training session with DataSeam in Louisville and the school will receive 10 20-inch iMac desktop computers with the new Lion operating system for his participation. Johnson said when he completes his annual DataSeam training later this year, the school will receive another 10 iMacs. He said the system will receive approximately $20,000 worth of new first rate computers for its participation costs of $6,000.
Superintendent Deborah Watts told the board that the school year is going strong and is staying with the plan and said students are moving up in pre-testing from lower to higher levels of rank. She added she has been told that the Cavalier sign, which was painted over by Jenkins City Councilman Terry Braddock at the request of Little Shepherd Amphitheater Director Don Amburgy, will be re-painted soon. Watts said the work will require scaffolding and that Jarred Tackett, who painted the original, told her his schedule will not allow him to paint the replacement. Board Chairman Narramore said the board’s first choice is for the Cavalier to be put in the original place, the old railroad trestle wall.
McRoberts Principal Amanda Sturgill reported that the “Cat in the Hat” (Whitesburg resident Keith Adams) had visited both elementary campuses as part of Read Across America Week and added that representatives of the Letcher County Recycling Center had also visited to discuss the importance of recycling. Sturgill said that elementary students had raised more than $1,000 for relief for victims of the tornadoes earlier in March and added that the Dental Van had visited both campuses.
Middle High School Principal David Lee told the board the 45 students took the American College Test (ACT) on March 8 and said that preliminary results indicate an increase in overall scores. Lee said JMHS has been working on improving attendance and that a group of students were taken to the Letcher County Recreation Center as a reward for good attendance. He said they really enjoyed their trip.
“You would have thought we took them to Hawaii,” said Lee.
Lee also said the state window for End of Course testing will run from April 15 through June 15. End of Course Tests will be taken during the test window before the school year ends for students.
Director of Pupil Personnel Harvey Tackett presented the revised calendar for 2011–2012 and the calendar for 2012–2013 to the board for its approval. Barring further inclement weather or emergency days, the last day of school for students will be May 10 and school will begin on August 8. The last day for staff is May 11. David Lee announced that graduation will be held on May 10 and said the times will be set soon.
Principal Lee also asked the board to approve a scoring model for End of Course tests, and said it is based on End of Course testing in Virginia. Lee said the scoring model is very student friendly and that a score of 400 through 409 will be scored as 86 percent (a grade of B) for the purpose of integrating the End of Course Tests into the students’ final grades. End of Course Tests will count for 20 percent of final grades.
In other board business:
• Harvey Tackett reported that overall attendance stands at 91.31 percent and said he hopes it will come up to 92 percent. Tackett said a rise in attendance of just a point can result in considerable added funding for schools. Tackett also said attendance rewards such as the trip to the Letcher County Recreation Center are paid for out of the attendance fund which still has money from the 2010 fund raising concert featuring country music performer Justin Moore.