A former Jenkins Middle High School teacher is the newest member of the Jenkins Independent Board of Education.
Jenkins Board Chairman Durward Narramore Jr. announced this week that Brenda DePriest has been appointed to fill the board position vacated when Laura Reevis resigned. DePriest was unable to attend the meeting because of a family illness, but Narramore said she would be sworn in officially at the beginning of a special meeting scheduled for Thursday, November 7, at 6 p.m.
The special meeting, which will be held in the high school library, has been called to examine test scores and work on the coming budget. Superintendent Deborah Watts told the board she expects it to take quite a while to thoroughly examine and dissect the test scores and suggested that the board hold the special meeting.
Financial Officer Candala Gibson reported to the board at its October meeting that the district’s general fund stood at $379,855. She also said that auditors from Cloyd and Associates of Corbin and London have visited the board offices and examined the books in preparation for the coming audit. She said the report should be ready for the November board meeting and added that the auditors have found no problems.
The board also voted unanimously to accept a change order to add new HVAC systems to four additional classrooms as proposed by Architect Michael Sparkman of Lucas Schivey Architects of Lexington. Sparkman told the board the Department of Education (DOE) will authorize the expenditure of an additional $25,700 to add the units. Board vice chairman Tracy Goff said he understands the state is reluctant to spend more on the old building since the board of education has announced its intentions to build a new school, but Sparkman said the department would allow for necessary maintenance expenditures. He added that Elliott Contractors, which is currently working on installing HVAC units in the middle high school building, will do the work as unobtrusively as possible. Supt. Watts said students will be relocated from affected classrooms into the computer labs whenever workmen need to be in the classroom during the school day.
The board also agreed to allow Hall and Clark Insurance of Prestonsburg to construct a website to allow school employees to sign on for voluntary insurance services if they choose to do so. Rich Summers of Hall and Clark asked the board to allow the company to move forward with the website and said the coverage is for supplemental insurance beyond that furnished by the board and will be on an individual and completely voluntary basis.
The board voted to accept the first technology offer from Kentucky Educational Technology System for $4,642. Technology Director Damian Johnson said the amount of technology funding is getting smaller each year and estimated that the second offer in the spring of 2014 will be around $3,000.
Board Chairman Narramore said the outlook for increased funding for education in the coming session of the Kentucky General Assembly is not good. Narramore referenced a report concerning the Kentucky Board of Education’s approval of a budget request this month that asks the General Assembly to restore school funding to pre-recession levels. The request will be submitted to Gov. Steve Beshear in November.
Narramore said the proposal is unlikely to get much attention, and provided The Mountain Eagle with an e-mail that quoted House Education Chairman Derrick Graham, D-Frankfort, who said, “It comes down to this — there is no money.”
Narramore said Graham added that if local school boards want increased funding it will have to come from taxpayers in their districts.
“I know they don’t want to do it on a local level, but … if it helps them, that’s where they need to go,” Graham said.
Narramore said the General Assembly’s continual refusal to fund education in Kentucky puts local school boards in a very bad position and places an unsustainable load on local communities to fund schools.
In other board business:
• The board voted unanimously to approve travel expenses for board members for the rest of the school year. Travel will include necessary training sessions and meetings as well as visits to Frankfort to lobby legislators to restore funding to education. Vice Chairman Tracy Goff cautioned board members to keep travel budgets tight and only travel when necessary because travel is one of the most highly scrutinized activities.
• The board voted unanimously to allow Chairman Narramore to negotiate a contract for legal services. The motion was crafted so that Narramore will have the ability to choose between proposals from attorneys wishing to submit their services before bringing them to the board.
• The board voted unanimously to approve changing the school calendar to exchange a professional development day for a regular school day on December 20 and to move the school day to January when the professional development day is scheduled. The change was instituted to allow the Lady Cavs basketball team to participate in a holiday tournament in Gatlinburg, Tenn., without the players having to miss a day of school. It will not affect the total number of instructional days for the school year.
• Director of Pupil Personnel Rondall Baker reported that attendance between the current board meeting and the September meeting stands at 92.28 and attendance for the year is 93 percent.
• Burdine Principal Stacey Collier told the board that test scores only improved in three grade/areas, fifth grade reading and social studies and fourth grade science. Collier said she is not satisfied with those results and she and her staff have already begun to institute changes to raise scores.
• Middle School Principal Serena Anderson gave the MHS report and told the board that JMS sixth graders are participating in the statewide and national “Sum Dog” Math Competition. She said Jenkins students currently rank at the top of the state and are fifth in the nation. She added that the junior varsity academic team is currently undefeated.
The board also held a special ceremony to honor Jenkins High School sophomore Whitney Creech, who was the Kentucky’s leading scorer for the 2012-13 high school basketball season.
JHS Principal David Lee presented Creecg with a framed photograph and plaque commemorating her achievement and told the board that Creech is a model student whose commitment and leadership mean as much as her athletic ability.
“She’s someone you want to have in your school,” said Lee.