Whitesburg KY

Loss of attendance means loss of funds for Jenkins schools

The Jenkins Independent School System finds itself in the same position as many others throughout Kentucky, waiting on the legislature to finalize the budget for the 2008- 2009 biennium. District Financial Officer Candala Gibson presented the draft budget to the board Monday evening, but told them the final determination will depend on actions taken in the current General Assembly session. Gibson said that funds for SEEK (Support Educational Excellence in Kentucky) are down 4.9 percent based on a drop in average daily attendance last year, but other possible cuts are on hold until the state budget is finalized.

Jenkins Superintendent John Shook told the board that all budgets are based on speculation until they are finalized and the method of school budgeting conducted in Kentucky always leaves room for speculation. Shook said he had recently attended a statewide meeting of superintendents on the topic of draft budgets. He said state education officials told the superintendents to build their budgets based on what they already have and it is not a certainty that cuts to education will be included in the budget. The board approved the draft budget unanimously.

Durward Narramore Jr. was re-elected as chairman of the Board of Education and Tracy Goff was re-elected as vice chair at the board’s January meeting. Superintendent Shook was chosen as board secretary, although he reminded the board that he is contractually bound to serve in that capacity as well. Shook took the opportunity to have a board appreciation ceremony to begin the meeting and presented plaques of appreciation to the board members for their service. The board also voted to continue to meet on the fourth Monday of each month at 6:30 p.m.

In other business, Superintendent Shook told the board that work is progressing on Jenkins Middle High School’s renovation project. Shook said that while Elliott Contractors is making a good deal of progress on the interior work, cold weather has hampered the efforts of Bri-Den, the roof contractors. Shook said temperatures must be over 40 degrees for the roofers to be able to work and so far, there hasn’t been enough warm weather for them to get started. The board approved payments to Elliott for a total of $206,638 and payment to Bri-den for materials for $281,873. Shook said Bri-Den has everything in place and as soon as weather permits, work will commence on the roof.

Director of Pupil Personnel Harvey Tackett reported that district attendance for the year is steady at 93 percent. Tackett said grades 8, 11, and 12 in Jenkins Middle High School all have attendance rates of 92.5 percent and the elementary school has an overall attendance rate of 93.9. Grade 7 leads the middle high school with 94.1, which Tackett said is a recurring pattern. He told the board that there are reasons the seventh grade leads in attendance each year but they are difficult to quantify. Tackett said attendance rates in surrounding counties are lower than Jenkins’ rate and average between 89 and 90 percent.

The board also approved a revision to Policy 09.2 which concerns student welfare and wellness and specifically affects state-mandated physical activity during the school day. Superintendent Shook said he expects a good deal of debate in this year’s General Assembly between the legislators who advocate longer periods of instructional time and these who advocate for more physical activity.

“Battle lines are being drawn,” said Shook. “When it hits the committees there will be some controversy over building physical activity into the day without taking away from instructional activities.”

Director of Curriculum and Instruction Jan Tackett reported on a grant program Jenkins will participate in along with Letcher County Schools. The program is designed as a peer-counseling drug prevention program under the guidelines of the Kentucky Strategic Prevention Framework, State Incentive Grant (SPF-SIG). It includes a program director and an assistant, but a significant portion of the funding goes to pay for Youth Mentors, 20 teen mentors who work with other students six hours per week. It also features a summer camp with 20 teen mentors on staff. Tackett said she believes that peer-to-peer counseling is more effective overall that having adults counsel young people. The total for the project is $69,000.

The board also voted to participate in matching grants from the School Facility Construction Commission. Superintendent Shook said the commission offers funds on a one-to-one matching basis and it opens the door to lots of opportunities to secure funding for facilities projects.

Advanced placement Spanish teacher Roberta Epperson, in her role as senior sponsor, presented details of the senior trip for 2008. Epperson said that 28 people, 21 students and seven adults, will participate in a cruise to the Bahamas which will start with an airplane trip to Orlando. The trip will cost $1,200 per person and students will have ample opportunities to raise the funds through various approved fund-raising projects through the school. The board approved the trip with the caveat that if changes are made they will not increase the cost of the trip.

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