All tenured teachers have been rehired to teach in the Jenkins school system during the next school year except for retirees.
Supt. Deborah Watts made the announcement during the May meeting of the Jenkins Independent Board of Education. Watts said she hopes all non-tenured teachers will also be hired back, but with state budget cuts she isn’t certain that will be possible.
Jenkins Middle High School Principal David Lee said retirees Susan Rowland, Debbie Clisso and Mark Johnson were honored at the district’s senior picnic. Lee added that middle school teacher Scott Guthrie and special education teacher Brenda Ison also retired.
In other business, Board Chairman Durward Narramore Jr. called on critics of the system to visit any of the campuses to see for themselves what is taking place. Narramore arrived late to the meeting because of work obligations and told the board he takes exceptions to negative comments that have been made about the school system.
Narramore made his comments after Principal Lee told board that all Jenkins seniors had passed the newly state-mandated end-of-course assessments and that significant numbers had scored at or above the state benchmark level.
Lee told the board that 89 percent of Jenkins seniors scored at or above benchmark on the English exam, 74 percent at or above benchmark on biology, 20 percent at or above benchmark on U.S. history, and 72 percent at or above on algebra. He said that because Jenkins students took their tests on-line, the scores have already come back. Lee added that the Jenkins scores stack up favorably with several other area schools that have already gotten their scores, but the overall standing and comparisons statewide will not be made until all the scores are in. Lee gave credit to the students and teachers as well.
“We have outstanding teachers throughout the system,” said Lee.
Lee said benchmarks were set by the Kentucky Department of Education and were determined by a state scoring system. He said all scores statewide will be available in September and at that time Jenkins’s scores can be compared to other independent school systems and to systems throughout the state.
End-of-course (EOC) testing was mandated in Senate Bill One in the 2009 session of the Kentucky General Assembly to begin in the 2011–2012 school year. American College Testing Inc. (ACT), the company that provides the ACT college entrance tests, was chosen to supply tests to Kentucky in four categories: algebra II, biology, English II, and U.S. history. The program is syllabus driven and provides material for classroom curriculum development and other instructional support materials.
In other business, the board heard the reading of an essay by McRoberts Elementary teacher Amanda Anderson that is included in the recently published book, This I Believe: On Motherhood. “This I Believe” describes itself as an international organization engaging people in writing and sharing essays describing core values that guide their daily lives. Essays from “This I Believe” are broadcast regularly on National Public Radio on the Bob Edwards Show. Anderson’s essay is titled “Dance to the Music” and describes how she and her mother used rock music to overcome hard times.
Stacy Collier, who teaches English language arts at Burdine Elementary School, was named Teacher of the Year for the 2011– 2012 school year. Superintendent Watts told the board Collier is a tireless worker and told Collier, “You do the job every day.” Board vice-chairman Tracy Goff told her that she displays “passion for what you do.”
Lee added that the high school graduation had gone extremely well, and said he was particularly pleased that the early May ceremony hadn’t been as hot as in previous years when the ceremony was held in June. He said the end of year cookout featured steak and baked potatoes with salad on the menu.
Lee also said he is excited about the coming school year, particularly about the emphasis on “Project Based Learning.” He said he has high expectations for next year when Jenkins High School will partner with Danville High School for Project Based Learning. Project Based Learning is the use of in depth classroom projects rather than standard teaching methods to facilitate learning. The projects are designed to answer a question or to solve a problem, and reflect tasks the students may be called on to do in a real work environment.
“This is a good partnership for us,” said Lee. “They have an excellent school.”
Supt. Watts said she is particularly pleased with the increased participation in the Dual Credit Program. Watts said Jenkins had 12 students taking college entry level courses at the University of Pikeville this year and she expects 20 for the next school year. Lee said he and Watts have attended workshops on Dual Credit and said he believes Jenkins is ahead of the curve on dual credit courses.
Lee told the board that 18 Jenkins students will take the ACT test at Jenkins Middle High School (an ACT test site) in the fall, out of 32 students who are scheduled to test there. He said his goal is for 10th graders to have the equivalent of an associate degree through Dual Credit courses by the time they graduate. Watts added that a number of the students enrolled in the Dual Credit courses have been offered academic scholarships upon graduating.
Technology Director Damian Johnson reported that he has attended trainings with Data Seam on the Macintosh OS 10.7. Johnson said Jenkins will receive 10 more Apple iMac computers as the result of his training session and said he has a good deal on others for the computer labs.
The board also voted unanimously to approve the system’s participation in the Community Eligibility Option, which allows all students in the system to eat meals at no charge, regardless of need. The program is part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Food Service Program. Food Service Director Susan Baker told the board the system’s reimbursement rate in the program will be 95.9 percent next year and the Food Service Program will end the year in the black. Baker said more students are eating meals at school, but added she hopes more will eat breakfast next year.
The board also approved hiring Harlan accountants Troy A. Gaw and Associates to conduct the system’s annual audit this year.
Board Chair Narramore said that Whitesburg accountant Dennis Wayne Fleming, who has done previous audits, said he did not want to do the audit any longer.
Also, the board approved a request by Principal Lee to hire a helper to paint classrooms. Lee said he had worked as a painter and will do the bulk of the work himself at no charge.