School taxes in Jenkins will be reduced for at least one year as the result of the Jenkins Independent Board of Education accepting the state-recommended compensating rate for the year 2013.
Property taxes were lowered by three cents per $100 for real property at the board’s September meeting this week. After a short discussion of the possible rates available, Board Chairman Durward Narramore recommended taking the compensating rate, which will keep tax revenues for the school system even with current income because of increases in property value in Jenkins.
Narramore told the board that even if it accepted the state’s highest tax alternative — a four-percent hike — the rate would still be slightly lower than the current rate of 76.9 cents per $100. By unanimously accepting Narramore’s motion, the board lowered the rate by three cents to 73.9 cents per $100 of real property. Board members also voted unanimously to keep the current rate on of 69 cents per $100 on watercraft, motor vehicles, and aircraft.
District Finance Officer Candala Gibson told the board the district would receive $461,956 in income as a result of accepting the compensating rate. Revenue generated from the maximum hike of four percent would have been $479,149, or a difference of $17,193. The board has approved a working budget of $3,849,533 for the coming year.
Narramore said that while he is aware that several districts have taken the fourpercent rate hike, doing so would have required the board to hold a hearing and would be subject to a recall vote as well. Board Vice Chairman Tracy Goff pointed out that if the board took no action and left the rate at 76.9 cents per $100, it would also be above the four-percent rate. The compensating rate is the rate recommended by the Kentucky Department of Revenue.
Narramore told the board that property values in Jenkins have gone up, which allowed them to lower tax rates and still maintain the current income level. However, he also cautioned against lowering rates past the compensating rate.
“If you don’t take the compensating rate, it may cause you to have to raise it later,” said Narramore.
In other business, Finance Officer Gibson told the board the general fund balance currently stands at $221,898.39. She said the balance would go up as soon as tax receipts begin coming in. She said the three-percent raise for staff approved recently showed up on for the first time in the August financial report. Superintendent Deborah Watts said the raise has created a feeling of goodwill among the staff and said they were all very pleased with a raise after working several years at a static pay rate.
In other business, both Watts and Narramore mentioned the new classification system for testing that will be implemented this year as part of a state-mandated overhaul.
Narramore said he had spoken with a superintendent from another district who said he was told to expect a huge difference in test scores. Narramore said that while achievement levels might go up, it will look different because scores will be classified differently. He said scores that would have been rated over 110 last year will probably be rated around 30 to 40 this year because of the changes. The lower number won’t mean that schools are failing, but will simply represent a different scoring system, he said.
Narramore said there is a good indication that although state legislators mandated the changes they will not be aware of the new scoring system and will not understand how it has changed. He said that using high schools as an example, there will be five scoring modules, including ACT Tests, graduation rates, end of course test scores and two others, and that each module will count for 20 percent of the overall score. Senate Bill One mandated the changes, but Narramore said the people who actually designed the new scoring system are having difficulties explaining it coherently.
Narramore also pointed to a new policy that will be announced by the Kentucky Board of Education in regard to restraint of out-of-control students. Narramore said “physical restraints will not be used,” but that school personnel must be trained in restraint.
“I’m afraid you will lose total control in the classroom,” said Narramore. Superintendent Watts agreed, and said she thinks it is a bad regulation. She added that the school system will send out explanatory e-mails as soon as the policies come down from the Department of Education.
Members of the Elementary School Academic Team were recognized by the board. Elementary Principal Stacy Collier introduced team sponsors Ken Flanary and Lynn Gilliam and said the team won its first competition of the season against Letcher. Team members include: Grade 4, Makala Stambaugh, Timothy Thompson, and Miranda Milam. Grade 5, Jacob Bentley, Tristen Cantrell, Anthony Newman, Tamara Isom, McKinley Goodson, Trinity Beauparlant, Lindsey Tackitt, Isaiah McCall, and Gabriel Polly.
Director of Pupil Personnel Harvey Tackett told the board there have actually been several days this year with 100 percent attendance district wide and said he is targeting an increase in attendance which stood at 93.32 percent as of September 19. Tackett said there were 1,021 total visits to school nurses at the three campuses, with allergy symptoms and sore throats as the primary causes for visits.
Tackett also said “bullying awareness” student assemblies were conducted and that K-12 teachers have all received bullying prevention awareness training. Tackett also praised Letcher District Judge Kevin Mullins, Letcher County Attorney Jamie Hatton, and Court-Designated Worker Mike Watts for their work in the Truancy Diversion Program. He said that 11 parent/student conferences have been held concerning truancies and that nine truancy cases have been handled in court.
The board voted to award the bid for school photography pictures to McEachern Photography of Tennessee, the only firm to submit a bid.
The board also voted unanimously to approve placing signs with the Cavalier logo on all three schools in the system and a larger sign with the mascot at the Jenkins Football Field.