Whitesburg KY

Jenkins schools to close June 2

For sale: McRoberts Elementary

The Jenkins Independent Schools Board of Education voted at its February meeting to sell the McRoberts Elementary School building and to set June 2 as the closing date for the current school year.

The board authorized Superintendent Deborah Watts to dispose of the property by selling it at bid. All bids will be subject to Kentucky Department of Education approval and the board will have the option to accept or reject any offers.

The board also made a decision that will allow students in the Jenkins system to get out of school on June 2, if there are no more inclement weather days added to the school calendar.

The board’s unanimous vote to cancel spring break and accept the use of five “banked days” means that students will not have to attend classes further into June. The decision was made to cancel spring break after Director of Pupil Personnel Rondall Baker told the board that as of February 24, Jenkins students had missed 22 days due to bad weather, and the end of school would be June 9 if no action regarding spring break was taken.

Several board members expressed concerns about extending the school year, saying that it might interfere with students’ summer jobs and vacation plans, or prevent graduating seniors from attending summer sessions in the colleges they will be attending.

Superintendent Deborah Watts and Burdine Elementary Principal Stacy Collier both said that most of the parents they had spoken to about the matter had said they would prefer to see spring break canceled rather than having school last so long.

Board Chairman Durward Narramore Jr. told the board that if it intended to make a decision to cancel spring break, it should do it as soon as possible to let parents and students’ families know, so they can alter any plans they may have.

The bad weather has also impacted the schools in other ways as frozen pipes burst on January 7 and flooded several rooms, cusing more than $170,000 in damage to the building and HVAC equipment.

Watts said the initial estimate for the repairs is $173,671, but further inspections will be made before submitting an insurance claim.

If the weather hasn’t been hard enough on the school system, Finance Director Candala Gibson also informed the board that the system has been the victim of identity fraud, and that checks totaling over $19,000 have been cashed on the system’s account at Whitaker Bank, some from as far away as a California Walmart. Gibson said as soon as she caught the checks in a regular examination of expenditures, she contacted Whitaker Bank and filed a policy report. She said that it looks like someone has taken the system’s account and routing numbers off a check and forged several payroll checks that were cashed fraudulently.

Gibson said Whitaker Bank has given the system several options including closing the current account and opening another one or having every check submitted to Gibson for approval before cashing it. Gibson said the system receives deposits from state funds electronically and pays teachers and staff as well as vendors electronically, and it will be very difficult to close the account. The board voted to give Gibson and Watts the authority to proceed in whatever way they think will best protect the system. Gibson also reported that the general fund account at present stands at $531,045.71.

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