The Jenkins Independent Board of Education has taken the decisive step in upgrading facilities at both campuses and creating secure entrances in each school building in the district.
Architect Chris Wilkins, of the Lexington architectural firm Alt-32, presented the board with updated drawings the board had requested after last month’s meeting and the board accepted them. Wilkins said the drawings would be printed this week and sent to the Kentucky Department of Education for review. Pending the state’s approval, the board will be able to advertise for bids within two weeks and work could begin soon.
Wilkins said he has left alternatives open in the parking lot plans to add or subtract features depending on financing. He told the board that at least part of the lot lacks an adequate base beneath the blacktop, which causes problems with the paving. Entrances at both schools will be modified for security and there will only be four keys to each main entrance. The main entrances will be the only ones that open both ways. Doors in other buildings will only open outward to allow people to leave the building. There are also alarms on each door that are armed 24/7 and work with security cameras to allow school personnel to see what set the alarm off from smart phones or computers.
District Finance Officer Candala Gibson told the board the district has enough funds to pay for the changes but said the fund will be very low after the project is complete. She also said the district currently has $798,775 in the general fund.
In other business, Lisa Collins, the district’s school nurse, said the district is nearing 100 percent compliance with state vaccination laws, adding that 97 percent of all Jenkins students had received the mandatory vaccinations as of October 15. All elementary students have complied, and only eight high school and five middle school students have not been vaccinated. Collins attributed the successes to a big change in attitude and said that all students who have been vaccinated have received at least one hepatitis A vac- cination. She added that flu vaccinations will be available at both schools this week.
Three budding entrepreneurs who represent Jenkins Middle High School presented a report on their entry plan for the Entrepreneurial Coal Lands Redevelopment Program (ECLRP) competition. ECLRP is a program developed by Cedar Inc., a non-profit corporation created by Cedar Coal Company, working in partnership with the business community and academic organizations. It was formed by the Coal North Carolina Coal Institute and Coal Operators and Associates of Pikeville for the purpose of creating a more favorable image of the coal industry.
The students, Breanna Rose, Makala Stambaugh, and Sophia Hampton, told the board they have presented a business plan to convert a 1,500-acre area of flat reclaimed land into a business and recreational center. The plan includes a drive-in theater and a park using an on-site lake. The site is in Shelby Gap and the next step will be to build a model. Coach Tina Tipton said the site is in pre-bond release, and will require more grass to be planted, although cattle are grazing on part of the property now. The board voted unanimously to approve participation in the Community Schools Transition to Work Plan. Federal Programs Director Sherry Wright told the board that there is a memorandum of agreement and teachers have been trained to implement the program. Community Schools to Work is a plan that places high school students in a variety of work-based situations with local businesses during their regular school hours to safely allow students to explore working at various jobs to ensure a successful school to work transition.
Director of Pupil Personnel Rondall Baker reported that attendance stands at 92.46 percent and the enrollment is 423. Baker said enrollment fluctuates as families leave the city for jobs elsewhere, although some return. He added that he is not happy with the attendance rate, which he said is a regional problem of a culture of chronic absenteeism. Baker said the system has 14 students who are considered truant and that he is trying to help students understand that there are penalties for excess absenteeism, including not being allowed to walk with the senior class at graduation and not being allowed to attend the prom.
Baker, who also serves as Transportation Director, also presented information on a new school bus that will cost $104,011. The bus is air-conditioned and seats 52 passengers. Baker said among the safety features is a camera that shows a 360-degree view of the bus to allow drivers to be certain no children are in danger. Superintendent Mike Genton said he would like to start a rotation program to keep a steady supply of new buses for safety purposes. The board approved the bus purchase.
The board did not approve a request from Band Director Jenny Collins for the purchase of a tuba priced at $2,975. Finance Officer Candala Gibson said the band did not have that amount in its funds. It did approve using a financial gift from the classes of 1961 and 1966 to go toward the purchase of a tuba and discussed ways to implement fund-raising for the band. Board Member Sarah Brown said she would like to create a fund for special projects for all extracurricular activities.