Whitesburg KY

Jenkins classes may end May 19

Students in Jenkins Independent Schools could have their last day of school on May 19, providing there are no more days missed due to bad weather or other circumstances. Director of Pupil Personnel Harvey Tackett told the Jenkins Independent Schools Board of Education at its January meeting that if there are no more days missed, May 19 will stand as last day of school. Tackett also told the board that attendance after the five days of class so far this year stands at 90.2 percent and enrollment is 600 plus. He said he did not have the exact figure with him for total enrollment but that it was over 600.

Jenkins Mayor Charles Dixon, a retired history teacher in the Jenkins system, visited the meeting to read a proclamation of appreciation for the work of the board and its service to the children. Dixon expressed his and the city’s appreciation of the board members and their work in keeping the school open and their service the children of Jenkins. The proclamation was part of School Board Recognition Month.

Superintendent Deborah Watts joined in expressing her appreciation for the board for its hard work and for “putting academics first.” Watts also presented shoulder bags to board members as a sign of her appreciation. Jenkins Middle High School Principal Lisa Carroll expressed her appreciation to the board members for putting students first, for demanding improvements in student achievement and for their vision. Carroll added that the board is very open to input from students and listens to their concerns. She also lauded their support for Watts as she makes needed changes.

Students at the middle high school also joined in the celebration by making a video presentation for the board. Introduced by student Kimberly Rose, the video expressed student appreciation for new ath letic uniforms and the school’s new fitness center as well as Advanced Placement and Reading Recovery classes and dual credit. Rose also told the board she really appreciated the Reading Recovery Program taught by Sonya Stewart. She said it had helped her a great deal with reading and “will do great things in my life and take me to a higher level.”

Lisa Burke, who teaches the Elementary Reading Recovery Program, introduced Shaylee Smith of McRoberts Elementary, who read “The Old Man’s Mittens,” to the board without missing a word. Burke told the board that students are exposed to an intensive 30-minute daily program for struggling readers that allows them to stay with their class and accelerates their reading development well past grade level. She said the program targeted five McRoberts students, and two have been discontinued (completed the course satisfactorily) and two more will finish this week. Shaylee started at Level 5 and is now reading at Level 24, or third grade level. She is a first grade student at McRoberts Elementary.

Board Chairman Durward Narramore Jr. said that the great advantage of being in an independent district of Jenkins’s size is the ability to focus on students and what needs to be done to make every child successful

In other business, the board voted unanimously to return Narramore as board chairman and Tracy Goff as vice chair. It also voted to keep meeting time as the fourth Monday of each month at 6 p.m. in the Central Office Boardroom.

Superintendent Watts told the board that while she and her staff are working on the Comprehensive Improvement Plan for the district, they are waiting on House Bill 176 in the Kentucky General Assembly before putting anything in concrete. She said there will be changes and she wants the plan to be the very best it can be for the coming year. Watts said she is looking to target budget priorities and will have to do a new evaluation plan based on HB 176. She said she understands the bill will include more support for teachers, but will also have more responsibility and accountability as well.

Board Chair Narramore added that the legislation will have a major impact on education in the state, almost as much as the KERA reforms passed in the 1990s. Narramore said that funding will be one issue addressed in the bill and he expects districts to be forced to put in more money.

“There will be a list of changes,” said Narramore. “If they don’t do something about Teacher Retirement by 2025, it will just go away. They (the legislature) have borrowed so much from the Retirement Fund to pay insurance, about $512 million.”

District Finance Office Candala Gibson told the board it can expect another two percent cut in state funding before the end of the year and said she will have to wait until the General Assembly delivers the bad news before completing her draft budget. Watts replied that the state cutting other programs while saying it won’t cut SEEK (Support Education Excellence in Kentucky) funding is a sham because schools are forced to take SEEK money to make up budget deficits caused by other cuts.

“It’s hard to make a budget when we don’t know how much money the state will give us,” said Watts. “We’re trying to be realistic. We need to look at our spending priorities. Academics are number one, but we do have other issues such as buildings and maintenance.”

In other board matters:

• Narramore told the board that when Jenkins changed its building planning to ask for a single building for the entire system, the state said it should stop spending money on existing buildings except in emergencies.

• High school football coach Larry Maggard asked the board to consider adding another assistant coach to his staff . He said he only has one full-time assistant and several excellent volunteers, but with an expected 50 players this summer he will need another full-time assistant to handle planning and other details and serve as junior varsity coach. The board will take it under consideration pending budget news.

• The board voted to approve the FRYSC (Family Resource Center) application for the coming year but Superintendent Watts asked to change staff levels from one director and two assistants to one director and one assistant. She said the additional assistant would cost enough to render the Center unable to provide many services. The board approved her request.

• The Governors Cup Academic Meet was held at the middle high school last weekend and several Jenkins students finished high enough to advance to the next round. Patrick Sturgill finished first in arts and humanities and social studies, Sarah Gilley finished fourth in English and Harlan Honeycutt placed fifth in math. All three will advance to the next round.

• The board voted to approve the updated Alternative Education Handbook. It changed physical education from active PE to movement.

• The date for the prom was set for May 1.

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