The Jenkins Independent Schools Board of Education heard good news at its May meeting about the end of the school year and some strange news as well.
Of 41 seniors in the 2013 graduating class at Jenkins High School, 22 received scholarships to area colleges. Superintendent Deborah Watts told the board she was very pleased with the result and attributed it to the hard work done by the graduates.
However, the board also learned that the grading system for seniors statewide had to be modified because of a computer failure with the state-mandated end-ofcourse testing. Technology Director Damien Johnson reported that early in the statewide testing process, American College Testing, which was paid $9.3 million to conduct a battery of tests by the Kentucky Department of Education, including the ACT and endof course tests, reported numerous computer problems and extremely slow computer responses during the tests.
Johnson said ACT sent a technician to Perry County schools, where he found that the problem did not lie with Kentucky schools, but with the ACT server. He said that although the testing process was essentially the same as last year’s, the ACT servers could not accommodate the load this year and failed. Jenkins was in one of the later testing blocks for Kentucky schools and the failure showed up in earlier tests so the Kentucky Department of Education shut the online testing down.
“It went perfectly last year,” said Johnson. “This year it just froze up on the early tests.”
The end-of-course testing is supposed to account for 20 percent of each student’s grade and one of the purposes of online testing is to allow for a quick turnaround in grading the tests so final grades can be quickly tabulated. This year, ACT was forced to fly thousands of pencil and paper tests to Kentucky and the results will not be in for up to two weeks, according to ACT. Johnson said last year’s results were available two hours after the tests were administered. ACT returned $2 million to the state education department for the failure, but Jenkins Board Vice Chairman Tracy Goff, who conducted the meeting in the absence of Chairman Durward Narramore Jr., was not pleased. He said that ACT still got $7.3 million out of $9.3 million for a failed process that “should have worked.”
In other business, the board voted to discontinue the “pre-school class” at McRoberts Elementary School and instead have two classes at Burdine Elementary. Federal Programs Director Sherry Wright told the board the Burdine class already had pre-registered the limit of 29 and had a waiting list, while McRoberts only had eight students who had pre-registered. The other teacher will be moved to Burdine where both classes will be held. Burdine Principal Stacy Collier told the board that the Burdine program had a waiting list for the entire school year last year and that any time a student withdrew, the slot was immediately filled.
The board approved a tentative operating budget of $4,401,429 for the coming school year. District Finance Officer Candala Gibson told the board the figures are not entirely set because of some information from the state that is not in yet. The tentative budget is the second phase of the budget process for Kentucky schools. Gibson also told the board the General Fund held $362,896 as of April 30, which she said was 78 percent of the current year’s operating budget. The activity fund has $55,195.
At a special meeting held on May 1, the board approved an order reassigning job duties in food service and finance. The food service director’s position was increased to a full day and accounts payable was reassigned to the finance department. This combined school accounts and accounts payable into a single full time position.
Bus driver contracts were set at 177 days, to cover attendance days for students as well as professional development days. Some bus runs were reassigned to combine the runs into eight-hour positions when possible, rather than several two-hour positions.