With the current school year winding down, the Jenkins Independent Schools Board of Education is busy preparing for the 2011-12 school year.
The board voted unanimously at its April meeting to adopt a calendar proposed by Director of Pupil Personnel Harvey Tackett, which calls for the first day of school for students to be August 5. In the unlikely event that no school days are missed because of bad weather or other reasons, the last day of school will be May 9, 2012. Spring break is scheduled for April 2 through 6.
Tackett told the board the calendar meets the state requirement of 177 instructional days and exceeds the legal requirement for student classroom hours. The calendar also calls for a return to the old start and ending times of 7:45 a.m. and 2:50 p.m. at the elementary schools and 8 a.m. and 3:05 p.m. for the Jenkins Middle High School. Tackett said the current times cause students to arrive at school too early.
Tackett also told the board that although “flu like symptoms” have caused attendance to be slightly down in the last couple of weeks, especially in kindergarten through third grade, attendance for the current school year should surpass last year’s average daily rate of 89.4 percent. In response to a question from board vice chairman Tracy Goff, Tackett said that although attendance now stands at 91.25 percent, it should get back at least to 92 percent and could possibly reach 94 if the seasonal allergies diminish. Tackett said the big attendance drain right now is with younger students in kindergarten through third grade, with grades 7 through 12 also lagging behind. He said staff are calling homes in an attempt to get a handle on the reason for so many absences and are getting more feedback on absences.
Tackett said the district’s school nurse program, which has provided nurses for each campus in the district, has helped keep students in school. He said nurses saw 1,051 students between March 23 and April 20, and that by being able to treat some of the complaints at school, many of the students were kept from going home. The nurse at the Middle High School saw 246 students during the period, the Burdine nurse saw 523, and the nurse at the McRoberts campus saw 282 students. Tackett said the main complaints have been headaches, sore throats, and general nausea.
In other business, the board learned the District Safe Schools Committee Meeting was held earlier this month and all certified and classified personnel also received training in preventing harassment and bullying between.
Superintendent Deborah Watts reported on the “comprehensive plan” developed in accordance with Kentucky Senate Bill One. Watts said representatives of the Kentucky Valley Educational Cooperative have worked with staff analyzing testing data to develop a three-point plan to address testing deficiencies. She said the areas that will be addressed are classroom rigor, motivating all students, and moving students up to a higher level.
Watts told the board the accountability model draft has been approved by the Kentucky Board of Education and the accessibility model, which she said was pretty involved, has also received approval. She said revisions have been made in Arts and Humanities and Practical Living. Classroom leadership will be more closely evaluated and schools will be graded on graduation rates from entering freshmen to graduates. She said the issue of transfers has not been addressed yet. Watts also said a new ACT testing model will be introduced to provide one test for college track students and another for career readiness for students who will enter the work force or take vocational training after high school.
System Finance Officer Candala Gibson reported the District has $424,000 in the General Fund and said that state reductions in funding will amount to about $60,000. Gibson said the next step is to look at staffing and creating an alternative budget in the event of more cuts. She said there will be cuts in SEEK (Support Educational Excellence in Kentucky) Funding, but that the legislature will refer to them as adjustments rather than as cuts. Gibson said the SEEK funding for next year is $2.6 million. Watts said that in response to reduced funding, all non-tenured personnel have received letters of non-renewal, but that she hopes to be able to bring back as many as possible.
“We would like to bring everybody back,” said Watts. “We don’t like to let anybody go.”
Board member Paulette Sexton said that school board members from all over the nation complained about staffing and funding at a recent national school boards meeting she and other board members attended. Watts said another cut may come during the school year and that state officials are being misleading when they say they aren’t cutting funding to education. She said that while some funds are left intact others are cut and the uncut funding has to be diverted to pay for things that have been cut in other funding schemes.
In other business:
• Coach Larry Maggard asked the board’s permission to allow the JSH Baseball Team to use the baseball facility at Ramey’s Fork in Cromona rather than the Jenkins Field at Joes Branch. Maggard said the Ramey’s Fork facility has lights, rest rooms with running water, and a building that can be used as a shelter in the event of bad weather. He said the Jenkins field has none of these things and lack of lights often keeps the Jenkins team from finishing games. The board voted to table the vote until a written agreement could be presented. Board chairman Durward Narramore Jr. said a special meeting will be held April 28 at 5 p.m.
• Superintendent Watts reported that MHS Math Teacher Jonathon Joseph has resigned to return to a previous position. Watts said every effort will be made to find another math teacher.
• Coach Maggard publically thanked Jenkins Mayor G.C. Kincer and City Administrator Todd DePriest for providing a city truck to haul gravel to the McRoberts Elementary School Campus. Maggard said the city has expressed its willingness to work with the system and do whatever it can to address the schools’ needs.
• Elementary Principal Gracie Maggard and McRoberts Assistant Principal Amanda Sturgill delivered the elementary schools report. Sturgill told the board that most of the planning and training is being conducted with both staffs and said the testing the theme for the coming state tests is Army-based, complete with mock drafts and a “Good Faith Effort” contract. Maggard said early primary students will only be tested in math and are working in teams with older students to encourage them to do well on tests.
• Middle High School Principal Laura Barker told the board Jenkins is part of the Fourth Cohort of Advance Kentucky, a program designed to enhance advance placement classes and their inclusion in curriculum for all course work. Barker said trainings are intensive and should help the entire school.
• The board also discussed out-of-state transfer policy and settled at the figure of $500 per semester or $1,000 for the school year. Payment must be made at the beginning of the semester or a contract for monthly payments of $100 can be arranged. Narramore said the board is required to charge a reasonable fee under new legislation.
• Jenkins Middle High School juniors Brooke Puckett and Michael Kelly were presented to the board as Governor’s Scholars in the coming summer session. Each student will participate in five-week programs at one of several colleges around the state this summer.
Established in 1983, the Governor’s Scholars program provides academic and personal growth in a challenging, non-traditional environment that balances a strong liberal arts program with a full co-curricular and residential life experience.