Whitesburg KY

Jenkins rewards superintendent with pay hike

The good relationship between the Jenkins School Board and Superintendent Mike Genton was reaffirmed and even got a little better at the board’s June meeting.

Genton was hired as superintendent in 2016 after serving as assistant superintendent at Trimble County Schools. At its June meeting, the board delivered its annual “superintendent’s evaluation,” which stated that Genton had accomplished or exceeded his goals for the three areas in which he had been evaluated.

Board Member Brenda De- Priest said that when Genton was hired, the board had agreed to revisit his salary status after the completion of his second year, after which the board voted unanimously to give him a $5,000 annual raise.

Genton thanked the board members and told them he has fallen love with the city and the Jenkins School System.

In other business, improvements to drainage and fencing, along with a report on the progress of construction work to upgrade both campus buildings were discussed.

Genton told the board he is concerned about drainage problems at the rear of the middle high school that had almost allowed water into the building during heavy rains last school year. He said two pipes behind the building are not draining and he hopes to get help from the city to fix them. He also mentioned an ongoing drainage problem at the Jenkins football field and said he thinks a trench will help solve that.

Genton said his biggest concern is the fence surrounding the playground at the elementary school at Burdine. He said it must be fixed and that so far he has received one quote for $4,200 to repair it. Genton said he hopes to receive lower quotes, but the fence has to be fixed.

Mike Sparkman of Alt 32 Architects gave the progress report on construction at the middle high school. He said new aluminum window frames have been installed along with new windows and new windows were also installed in the front entranceway. Showers and basins are in place in the locker rooms and some painting and tile work has been finished in the hallways.

Sparkman and Genton discussed options for the columns that hold up the canopy over the walkway in the front of the building. Genton said the canopy is essential to allow students to have a covered walkway from the bus unloading area into the building. A new sidewalk is partially completed at the entrance too.

Sparkman praised project contractor Trace Creek Construction and said it is staying on or ahead of schedule even with the frequent rains. He said there is still a lot of concrete and blacktop to be laid. The blacktop has been stripped in the parking lot and the contractor is working on leveling and filling in low spots.

The board approved a payment of $378,150 to Trace Creek for work that has been competed so far. Sparkman said this was an appropriate amount for the amount of work that has been done. The board also approved a change order of $20,465.70 for improvements in access control.

District Financial Officer Candala Gibson reported that the General Fund stood at $880,666.02 on May 31, and she said the district should begin the year on July 1, 2019 with a little over $800,000 in the fund. The board approved a bond of $150,000 for Gibson as District Finance Officer and Federal Programs Director Sherry Wright who serves as treasurer. The board also approved a Bond of Depository that protects district deposits above $250,000, the amount covered by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.

Gibson told the board the staff will be paid on August 16 and that new and non-tenured staff will be paid two weeks later. The board approved the payroll schedule and salary scale, and Genton said he has worked to make teachers’ salaries more competitive with surrounding districts. Genton also asked the board to add the stipend for insurance coordinator to Gibson’s salary. He said she has been fulfilling the insurance coordinator duties for some time. The board also voted to reduce the archery coordinator position to one person with a stipend of $2,000 per year.

Technology Coordinator Damian Johnson presented the Technology Plan for the coming year and said the state requires a new template for the plan that emphasizes data security, safety, and privacy. Johnson also said the district has spent a lot on technology, but very little came through the Kentucky Educational Technology System offers of financial assistance. He said most of the money came through grants, particularly the DataSeam Program. The DataSeam Program has provided about $400,000 in Apple Mac Workstations to the Jenkins system for a participation cost of about $100,000 during the time Jenkins has been part of the program. The workstations are linked to computers statewide and used for cancer research when they are not in use by schools.

Johnson said the system has a one-to-one ratio of students to computers and that last year, he had implemented a Social Media Platform for the schools. He said he particularly likes the addition of 65-inch High Definition Resolution (4K) Smart TVs for classroom use. The TVs have built-in computers and use touch screen technology. Johnson added that the district needs to make sure to get the most useful technology for the money spent and to be sure it will enhance learning opportunities for students. He said he will work with the staff to help identify problem areas in school technology.

School Nurse Lisa Collins gave the Nurse’s Report and said she received approximately 2,000 visits from students at both schools. She said 133 students were sent home for illness from Burdine Elementary, but because so many middle and high school students have their own telephones, it is difficult to estimate how many called their parents to pick them up for illness. She added that the School Nursing Program allows for Dental, Vision, and Hearing Monitoring. The system was closed for four days last year for illness-related issues, and Collins said she gave 190 physical examinations for sports. Genton praised Collins for her work and for helping him control his blood pressure. The board unanimously approved the report and re-approved her contract for the coming year.

The board approved new Policy Handbooks prepared by the Kentucky School Boards Association. The handbooks are updated each year to accommodate changes in law made by the Kentucky General Assembly and the Kentucky Department of Education. The board also approved a Memorandum of Understanding to allow for student teachers from Eastern Kentucky University.

Genton asked the board to consider several possible changes to current policy for discussion at the July meeting, but no action was taken. Both proposals are for consideration at later meetings. Jenkins MHS Principal Stacy Collier asked the board to consider establishing a Learning Academy for Jenkins students. Collier said she had discussed the programs thoroughly with other systems where it has been successful. The program is primarily intended to accommodate students who have found it difficult to flourish in a normal classroom setting.

Collier said the Learning Academy uses on-line instructional and other nontraditional instructional ideas that are often used in alternative education. However, she said students who are not being punished should also have the opportunity to work in a different atmosphere if it will enhance their learning style. The board agreed to look at the proposal and bring it to the table for July.

Genton asked the board to consider allowing Jenkins students to attend classes at the Wise County Vocational School again. The system previously entered into an arrangement with Wise County Schools to allow Jenkins students to attend the Wise County Vocational and Technical School in 2014 because it offered a broader range of programs. However, in 2016, the board dissolved its relationship with Wise County schools in the area of vocational education. At that time, the Kentucky Department of Education did not recognize the end of course testing conducted in Virginia for vocational education and for that reason, the Jenkins system was not credited for Career Readiness on the KDE School Report Card.

Genton said the KDE has modified its regulations and he suggested the board consider the possibility for discussion in July. He said one possible stumbling block is the cost to attend the Wise County school in relation to the cost for Jenkins students to attend the Letcher County Vocational School, but he said he believes an equitable arrangement can be worked out.

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