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Jenkins school system bracing for $173,623 in funding cuts

The 2018-19 state allocation for Jenkins Independent Schools will be reduced by at least $174,623, and it is likely that changes to the state Classified Employee’s Retirement System will cost the school system another $50,000. The $174,623 reflects a $144,623 reduction in Support Education Excellence in Kentucky funding (SEEK), and an additional $30,000 reduction in Average Daily Attendance (ADA) payouts by the state due to a decrease in enrollment in the 2017-2018 school year. ADA is the formula that determines the amount of funding the state allocates for each school and is based on the average of the number of students in a school on a daily basis. Losses in enrollment and high rates of absence have an negative impact on ADA.

However, as of Monday evening’s meeting, the final amount of funding for education was unknown. At the April meeting of the Jenkins Independent Schools Board of Education, Finance Officer Candala Gibson told the board about the losses she was certain about, but said a final number is not certain. The attendance rate for the year stands at 92.08. Director of Pupil Personnel Rondall Baker said this is the lowest it has been since the 2013-2014 school year and attributed the increase in absences to influenza.

The Department of Music and Bands at Jenkins Independent Schools received a welcome gift in the form of two separate checks of $500 each from the Class of 1958-1961 and the Class of 1966. Nagatha Venters, Mary Prichard, Peggy Bentley, and Joan Mullins presented the check from the classes of 1958- 1961, and Joanne Baldwin and Brenda DePriest presented the check for the Class of 1966. Jenny Collins, Director of Bands and Music for Jenkins Schools, said she was delighted to receive the gifts and thanked both groups.

Collins also reported on progress made in the Band and Music Program since her last visit to the board in November and introduced two students who were chosen for the All-District Band. She introduced seventh grader Jacob Collins and freshman Ken Sexton, both of whom are percussionists. Sexton was selected for third chair in the All District Band and was named to the All District Percussion Ensemble.

The program has made considerable progress in the second semester of the 2017-2018 school year and Collins reported students started the semester with considerable excitement due to receiving a new marimba (percussion) that had been made possible by the board. She added that as far as she knows, this is the first marimba the program has had. It is being used in preparing for a percussion ensemble piece, Hungarian Dance Number Five, which the band performed successfully in the Letcher County Arts Gala in March.

Several instruments have been donated to the band from within the community, including a piccolo that was requested through Donor’s Fund. The piccolo will be among the instruments used in a student performance in the upcoming spring concert at Emmanuel Baptist Church in Jenkins at 6 p.m. on May 3. The University of the Cumberlands Jazz Ensemble, under the direction of David Threlkeld, visited Jenkins High School and performed for the entire student body last week. A jazz clinic will be held at the University of Virginia at Wise on May 12 at the Gilliam Center for the Arts in Wise.

Jenkins has also established a new chapter of the Tri-M Music Society, and charter members will be pinned later in April. The Band Awards Banquet will be held at the Old Jenkins High School banquet room at 6 p.m. on Friday, May 1.

In other business, Technology Director Damian Johnson delivered the annual Technology Report. Johnson said that at present, every student grade five through 12, as well as faculty and staff, have been issued Chromebooks and lower grade students all have iPads. He said that the system is almost to the point where a two-to-one ratio exists between people and tech devices.

Johnson also expressed his pleasure that DataSeam is available to the system again. 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.

According to information provided by the SOAR (Save Our Appalachian Region) Network, DataSeam built and manages a large, efficient, cloud-based computing system using computers in schools across Kentucky. When students are not using the computers for education the processors power the James Graham Brown Cancer Center’s search for potential drugs. Schools earn computers they would otherwise be unable to afford engaged in professional training, development, and industry-standard technical certification, allowing the schools to support the new technology for both the cancer research and students and teachers. Morehead State University and the University of Louisville identify and provide scholarships to promising students from DataSeam schools to pursue further education in STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math), especially aerospace, bioscience, and the space sciences, as well as STEM education.

Johnson said that in the coming school year, the Jenkins system will have access to about $75,000 in Mac workstations for a copay of $15,000, and the first allocation will go to replace teachers’ workstations. He added that the system is now highly integrated with Google for classroom programs and said that security cameras in the classroom buildings will all be upgraded to digital high definition cameras.

The board also approved Johnson’s recommendation that the board move to Enrollment for Electronic Solutions (EES) for purchasing all the software licenses for programs used in the school system. The board voted to enter into a 36-month contract for $3,000 a year for all its licenses.

The board voted to proceed with Building and Grounds One, which addresses building security needs, and voted to hire Alt-32 Architecture and Design of Lexington as project architects. The board has worked with Alt-32 on a number of projects and Mike Sparkman of Alt-32 presented initial plans for building security upgrades, including what he called sally ports, which would control entry to both campuses. Visitors would come into a secure area closed off from the rest of the building and must be approved before being allowed access to the main building. The board voted to allow BG One to go forward and Genton said he wants to get the security upgrades finished before school starts next fall.

The board also voted to approve Superintendent Genton’s suggestion to enter into an agreement with Aptegy Services to provide for all electronic communications services, including telecommunications, website development, and maintenance. The five-year contract will cost $28,600.

The board voted to resign the Gear-up Contract with Franklin Covey. Superintendent Genton said that Gear-up also pays most of the cost to participate in the Leader in Me program. The board members also voted to approve a contract with Reynolds and Blackburn Psychological Services for service to special education students.

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