Whitesburg KY

Jenkins board wants all schools under one roof

Students in the Jenkins Independent System could find themselves going to a brand new school in the near future if negotiations between the Jenkins Board of Education and the Kentucky Department of Education (DOE) are successful.

At the board’s October meeting this week, Board Chairman Durward Narramore Jr. said he and Superintendent Deborah Watts had been in Frankfort to hear several options the state presented to deal with the system’s aging buildings, all of which need further upgrades even after spending more than $1 million last year for renovation. He said the state does not wish to spend further money renovating the system’s three campuses and that under recent legislation addressing Class Four and Five school systems, the state may decide to build one building to house the entire pre-school- 12 system.

Narramore said discussions are in an early stage and he has no idea which way they will go. He added that in any event, the Jenkins System will remain an independent school system and remain in Jenkins. Superintendent Watts added that the Central Office will be submitting a number of reports and other information in coming weeks and will just go from this point and try to fulfill every request for information coming from the DOE.

“If it works out, that’s great,” said Narramore. “But the Jenkins Independent System is here to stay.”

Architect Michael Sparkman of Lucas Schivey Architects of Lexington also attended the meeting. Sparkman is working with the board to evaluate the system to provide further information to state education officials. He said he had visited the Burdine campus twice on Monday and would be in Jenkins for the rest of the week evaluating the buildings. He said he had scored Burdine lower than it had previously been scored and he had also been shown two possible sites for a new location.

The council went into closed session to discuss a possible negotiation for a property acquisition, but took no action.

In other business, Director of Pupil Personnel Harvey Tackett made an indepth report on methods the system has adopted to combat the H1N1 virus as well as problems from absences from influenza and other viruses making the rounds in the county. Tackett said although attendance is down more than usual, the system is not yet losing money on state calculations made through average daily attendance reports.

Tackett told the board that all cases of Type A influenza (seasonal influenza is Type B) were being treated as H1N1 by health agencies due to the considerable expense of testing for H1N1. For that reason, he said there is no 100 percent confirmation of H1N1 cases. Tackett said he has been working with Letcher County Health Department Director Lana Mullins as well as the regional educational cooperative to get information for the Centers for Disease Control. He said they are working on getting approval for schools to be site clinics where students and later, the general public can receive vaccinations.

Narramore asked Tackett if any recommendations had been made about possible school closures and Tackett replied the CDC recommends keeping schools open at present. He said Jenkins is exceeding CDC guidelines for cleaning and sanitizing and spoke very highly of BWB Enterprises of Matewan, W.Va., which supplies the system with Sani-Safe disinfectant products. Tackett said Sani-Safe not only kills the H1N1 virus, but all other influenza viruses as well as MRSA.

Tackett said the school nurses and custodial staffs have done an excellent job in containing the virus and whenever students are brought to the nurse with flu-like symptoms, they are isolated and whenever possible, sent home with their parents or guardians. He said it is critically important that parents sign a release to allow school nurses to check students at school for symptoms and for symptomatic students to go home. Tackett said water fountains are a critical source of transmission and must be kept clean at all times. He added that sometimes younger grade school students put their mouths on the back of school bus seats while riding buses, so that is another area that must be sanitized. Jenkins schools were closed on October 16 and athletic games were also canceled on the 17th.

Tackett said hand sanitizer has been placed throughout campus buildings and custodial staff members have received the onequart spray bottles of Sani-Safe. He added that the main objective for the school system is to do what is best for the students and that there is no “tipping point” that will determine whether schools are closed. Tackett said if any parents have questions about procedures or viral infections, they should feel free to contact him at 832-2183. A Flu Plan is also available on the board’s website

Narramore said it is the parents’ decision as to whether to send a student to school, and that the board cannot keep a parent from putting a sick child on a school bus. However, he said a school bus is a closed environment and a sick student will be closer to others than they will be all day while they are on a bus. Superintendent Watts added that no other considerations override student safety and well being and all decisions will be made with that in mind.

“Of course we want to keep our kids in school,” said Watts. “But not at the risk of their health. All the systems in the state are having the same problems. The health of our kids is what is really important.”

In other business, McRoberts Elementary School received 2,200 books from the Jewish American Group as part of the adoption of the school by the Good People Fund. McRoberts Principal Kristie Collette said a truck with supplies for the school and the community of McRoberts will be here Nov. 8- 10 and asked for volunteers with pickup trucks to help move the supplies into the community center for distribution. She said Naomi Eisenberger of the Good People Fund will accompany the trucks and volunteers will verify the address and school enrollment before distributing supplies. The supplies include furniture, school supplies, clothing, dishes, and other necessities.

The board also voted to adopt standard guidelines for all athletic teams. Attitude and conduct, as well as discipline, attendance, time management, and quitting a sport are all addressed. Coaches in individual sports may add other provisions as needed. The board included a provision that additional provisions made by coaches must be in place at the beginning of the season.

The board also approved a preliminary plan to allow Jenkins High School seniors to take their senior trip to Hawaii, providing everyone who wants to participate can go. Middle High School Principal Lisa Carroll told the board that a fundraising plan is in place which, if successful, will allow for total participation and if it is not successful, backup plans are in place. The trip will cost about $70,000.

The board also celebrated Transportation Month by honoring the system’s Transportation Department. Ceremonies included the presentation of trophies to students who made posters celebrating Transportation Month. Winners were: McRoberts Campus — kindergarten, Gavin Johnson; first grade, Makaylee Branham; third grade, Brennan Mullins. Burdine Campus — second grade, Anthony Newman; fourth grade, Makayla Dugan; fifth grade, Toni Smith; sixth grade, Brandon Little.

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