The Jenkins Independent Board of Education this week accepted the resignation of one board member and told a group of visitors from McRoberts it will work with them to try to see that the McRoberts Elementary School remains a fixture in the community following the board’s June vote to close the school.
Board Chairman Durward Nar- ramore Jr. told the board at its July meeting Monday night that the board’s newest member, Laura Revis, had submitted a letter of resignation to him earlier. Narramore said he will notify the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) of the vacancy. He gave no reason for Revis’s resignation. Superintendent Deborah Watts said the KDE will appoint a new member as soon as the application process is complete. Narramore said the board will advertise the opening for two weeks and will provide the steps for application to interested parties. After applications are submitted, the commissioner of the KDE will appoint a board member to serve out the two years remaining in Revis’s term.
In other business, three McRoberts residents attended the meeting to discuss the possibility that the McRoberts Elementary School building can remain in use as an asset to the community. Jim Scott, who has been active in McRoberts and in the county’s attempts to reduce the amount of blighted and deteriorated property, served as spokesman, and told the board the school has always been an important asset to McRoberts. Scott said that like the rest of the county, McRoberts has lost population, but the remaining residents are dedicated to keeping their community clean and vital and he expressed the hope that the school will become a community asset.
Board Chairman Narramore told Scott that up until a few years ago a school system could do what it wanted with school property once it was no longer in use, but now state laws have changed and it is no longer legal for a government entity to give away public property. The Letcher County Fiscal Court has purchased several old school buildings from the Letcher County Board of Education in recent years to serve as community centers, but the court is operating under a reduced budget and lower coal severance tax receipts than in years past. Scott said he has spoken with Judge/Executive Jim Ward and Fifth District Magistrate Wayne Fleming, who represents McRoberts and Jenkins on the fiscal court, and both promised to do all they can to help keep the school as part of the community.
“We’re hoping to do all we can to keep it a serviceable part of the community,” said Scott. “There are a lot of things we could do at the school and we don’t want to see our school go away.”
Scott pointed to the lack of available space in McRoberts due to housing and the steep hills surrounding the community. He said the school could be used to house senior citizens and as a community library and stressed the importance of the school playground and basketball courts as the only gathering place for young people in McRoberts.
Narramore and other board members expressed their willingness to work with the McRoberts community. Narramore said he hopes the community gets the opportunity to acquire the property and he will do all he can to see that happen. He said the Department of Education has already been notified that the school is no longer in use and they all need to move forward on getting it in the community’s hands and added that the worst thing for everyone would be for the building to sit idle with no heat and electricity.
Fred Howard and Johnny Tackett accompanied Scott, and both expressed their hope that the school can remain open for community purposes. Tackett asked if the building can be opened during the McRoberts reunion so the restrooms can be used. He said the reunion committee will see that the building and restrooms are cleaned and Howard told the board that he and others are already keeping the grass and weeds cut.
Superintendent Watts also introduced new administrator Serena Anderson, who will serve as middle school principal, to the board. She is from the Knott County and Cordia systems, where she served for 22 years as a teacher and administrator. Anderson said her most recent specialty was in increasing test scores and expressed her delight at being part of the Jenkins Independent system. Joe Colwell, who served last year as assistant football coach, is the new head coach of the Jenkins football team. Former coach Eric Ratliff took another position in Pike County Schools. At this time, Jenkins has no high school basketball coach.
“I am extremely excited in my first year as a principal,” said Anderson. “I can’t wait to jump in headfirst. I want to help make Jenkins a school to be reckoned with.”
Director of Pupil Personnel Rondall Baker added that bus runs have been scheduled for the McRoberts students and buses will be arranged so the younger students will be at the front. Both Collier and Baker said they have called all the McRoberts parents with active phone numbers.
“There is no waiting list at Burdine,” said Collier.
The board accepted annual bids to supply the system, and gave school principals the choice in school picture vendors and awarded the bid to fuel for school vehicles to Childers Oil, which was the sole bidder. The bid for soft drinks and bottled water went to Coca Cola Bottling Company of Pikeville.
In other board business:
• District Financial Offi- cer Candala Gibson told the board the General Fund currently stands at $304,288.30 and the Food Service ended the school year in the black. All children will participate in free meals for the coming school year.
• The board voted to declare buses Number 15 and 16 as surplus and advertise them for bid.
• The first day of school for students will be August 8. Open house will be held at Burdine Elementary on August 5 from 4 until 6 p.m.
• The board voted unanimously to accept a gift of lab equipment from the University of Pikeville that is worth in excess of $50,000. Superintendent Watts said it will cost the system about $9,500 to transport and install the equipment.