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Jenkins board votes to put cameras on school buses

The Jenkins Independent Board of Education voted unanimously at its March meeting to begin placing video cameras inside school buses to monitor students and drivers.

The board made little comment before approving the recommendation by Superintendent Deborah Watts that it start with putting a camera in one bus now and one in another bus in the summer. Watts recommended the installations take place at the rate of one or two cameras per year.

According to the district’s technology director Damien Johnson, the cameras and recording devices are expandable. He said cameras could be added to recorders and that Global Position System (GPS) capabilities can be added to each camera.

In other business, the board also voted to begin participation in the soon-to-be state mandated teacher evaluation process known as the Teacher and Principal Professional Growth and Effectiveness System (PGES). Watts said four of the district’s teachers were evaluated under the process this year on a trial basis. She said that although the evaluation system is a lengthy process, it worked well.

Middle High School Principal David Lee said JMHS teachers have participated in “PD 360,” an online library of educational professional video program credited with improving student achievement in many schools. Lee told the board has attended meetings in Louisville to look at ODYSSEYWARE, a company that provides online curriculum and electronic learning programs for public schools.

Watts also reported to the board that Jenkins High School students who are required to do so have taken their ACT exam, a standardized test for college admissions that also measures student achievement.

After a long discussion concerning a provision detailing who is responsible for extended home/ hospital educational services, the board voted to approve a nonresidential student contract with Letcher County Schools. The board voted after Director of Pupil Personnel Rondall Baker assured Vice Chairman Tracy Goff that average daily attendance funding will continue for students on home/hospital care to the school district they were attending at the time they fell ill. The same district will also be responsible for educational services. Baker said it is a standard clause in non-residential contracts, and that Letcher County has the same provision in its other non-residential contracts.

Baker also told the board he had a less than favorable student attendance report for the month since the February board meeting, with attendance standing at 89.03 percent for the period. Baker said illness and bad weather in March has been a “killer,” with year-todate attendance standing at 90.63 percent. Attendance in grades one through eight is more than 90 percent for each class but the highest attendance in the middle high school stands at 89.7 percent for the senior class. The freshman class has the lowest attendance rate, 88 percent.

In other business, Finance Officer Candala Gibson reported that the district has $364,503 in the general fund. She also said that direct deposit for staff pay passed its first test on the last payroll and those teachers who had volunteered to serve as test subjects had their paychecks deposited successfully.

In other board business:

• Watts told the board that the Cavalier sign was damaged by high winds but it has been picked up for repair.

• The board approved a Memorandum of Understanding with Mountain Comprehensive Health Care for dental screenings for students.

•Federal Programs Director Sherry Wright reported that spring testing is set for May 6 through 10.

• The board put a proposal on hold to allow students to ride on a Jenkins Volunteer Fire Department truck as a reward for attendance and academic success until insurance liability is determined.

• The board voted unanimously to approve an agreement between McRoberts Elementary School and Family-to-Family Inc., a charity based in Hastings on the Hudson, N.Y. The relationship between McRoberts Elementary and Family-to-Family began in 2009. Each summer the Jenkins district and Family-to-Family, with the help of Walmart, runs a weekend backpack program through which non-perishable food is sent home to more than 100 children.

According to the Family-to- Family website, “McRoberts families are also recipients of Familyto Family’s Victory Garden program. In 2010 and 2011, 17 families received donated gardening equipment and seeds for growing two 5’x8’ beds of vegetables and fruit, along with egg-laying chicks.”

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