Whitesburg KY

No student quit in past four years, Jenkins board told

It was an evening for good news and good-byes at the June meeting of the Jenkins Independent Board of Education. The board learned that Jenkins is among four systems, all independents, which have not had a single student drop out of school in the past four years.

Director of Pupil Personnel Harvey Tackett told the board that in fact, the Jenkins System hasn’t had a dropout since the 2004-05 school year. He attributed the high rate of retention to the district’s Credit Recovery Program, which allows students to recover credits for classes they have either failed or partially completed, or in which they have missed too many days to receive a passing grade. Tackett told the board the Credit Recovery Program has allowed students in the Jenkins system to recover a total of 207 credit hours since the program was instituted in the 2006- 07 school year, including 72 semester credits recovered in the current summer school program.

“The students can see the light at the end of the tunnel,” said Tackett. “We’ve had zero dropouts in the last three years.”

Tackett will also be in the spotlight at the summer meeting of the Kentucky School Boards Association, where he and Webster County Superintendent Dr. James Kemp will present a seminar on the four-day school week. Jenkins and Webster County both moved to adopt the four-day program in 2005 and both have been successful with the new schedule. Since the skyrocketing cost of fuel and other energy costs have impacted school systems across the state, many systems are looking at the four-day week as a way to reduce costs.

Superintendent John Shook said that although Jenkins had not initially adopted the four-day week as a cost savings measure, Webster County had included costs savings measures in its planning and had reduced the number of work days for classified personnel accordingly. Shook told the board that by keeping classified personnel at their regular workload, the system had gotten a great deal of work done on off days that would have normally been contracted out. Shook said the four-day week had caused other cost savings, especially since fuel prices had gotten so high.

The June meeting marked Superintendent Shook’s last meeting before retiring and the board placed its monthly “Spotlight” on Shook and the achievements of the system during his seven-year tenure. Board Chairman Durward Narramore Jr. presented Shook with a Jesse Stuart print which said teachers live on in the lives of their students. Each board member spoke glowingly about Shook and his term as superintendent. Earlier, the JIS staff and faculty held a ceremony as well.

Narramore said the board had originally hired Shook to get the system’s finances in order and he had done an excellent job with that as well as other aspects of his position. Narramore said his ongoing memory of Shook will be of a man who was always focused on the students and was dedicated to serving their needs. Board member Eileen Sanders said she had worked with Shook as a board member as well as a colleague (Sanders served as school librarian until she retired in 2005). She was appointed to replace Fred Fleming, who resigned because of changes in his work schedule, and was reelected in 2006. Sanders said Shook had been engaged with his position every moment and had always been dedicated to the students.

Board member Tracy Goff told Shook that except for a few months after he was first elected to the board Shook had been the only superintendent he had worked with, to which Shook replied, “Bless you, my child.” Goff said he admires the way Shook gets everyone to work toward common goals. Board members Benji Prunty and Paul Stambaugh both praised Shook’s leadership and said they had relied on his wisdom.

Jenkins Mayor Charlie Dixon, who graduated from Jenkins High School with Shook, recalled playing in a high school basketball game with Shook when he tried to keep a ball from going out of bounds. Dixon said after Shook had fallen on the ball and then rolled on it, Jenkins Coach John Morgan had suggested he “just take a stick and kill it.”

The board’s second “Spotlight” was on the Burdine Elementary School, where the meeting was held. Shook said although work had begun on renovating the school three months before, there was still some work left to be done. He said the roof repairs had taken longer than expected because of cold weather and had held other work up. Shook said the building, as well as those on the system’s other two campuses, should be ready by the time school opens. Classrooms on the east end of the building have been completed and have new ceilings and recessed lighting. New flooring is complete in part of the building.

The board voted to approve project payments to contractors Bri-Den and Elliot Contracting for work done so far. Shook told the board the roof work is progressing well at Jenkins Middle High School and the old cooling tower has been removed and a new one will be in place soon. Shook said the contractors had raised the roof on the academic end of the school about 12 inches on each side to create a surface which slopes toward the center and placed the drains in the middle of the roof. He said the biggest holdup was on the new biology lab at the JMHS because of changes made to the plans by plumbing inspectors.

Director of Curriculum and Instruction Jan Tackett told the board that test results for the No Child Left Behind testing will be available to the public August 5 and the Kentucky CATS tests will be available September 10. Tackett said she would attend a meeting with other educators in July to discuss possible changes in testing in Kentucky. She told the board that in their current form, the CATS tests do not give an accurate measure of student achievement because there are as many as 16 versions and each test is different. She said the tests do not allow for a comparison of Kentucky student achievement against students in other states or nations.

Tackett told the board the CATS test is a Criteria Reference test and a Norm Reference (with the same questions on every test) test is the only way to actually measure results against others taking the test. She also said that while there is still an approximate shortfall of $6,000, the elementary schools and middle high school have worked together to find funds to pay for textbooks. Tackett said the state provides less than $6 per book while many of the more advanced texts cost as much as $95. She said that while the state does not require school systems to furnish books to students at no charge, the Jenkins system follows that practice. She said the state funds are not specifically targeted for books, but are flex funds which cannot be used at all for textbook purchases in high school. The board unanimously approved the textbook plan.

In other business at the June meeting:

. The board approved the first reading of the Assessment Notebook Policy, designed to keep teachers in compliance with state requirements for record keeping on classroom guidelines.

. Technology Director Damien Johnson said he and DPP Tackett will attend training sessions on the use of Infinite Campus, a new state-mandated student information system, in July.

. JMS Principal Teresa Bentley told the board that former Fleming-Neon Coach Mark Johnson has been hired to coach boys’ basketball. Bentley said that other hirings for JMHS vacancies are almost complete as well. Johnson will also serve as Gifted and Talented teacher for the system.

. The board voted unanimously to renew its membership in the Kentucky Valley Educational Co-operative. Superintendent Shook said the approximately $2,000 dues was money well spent and the co-op saves money on purchasing a number of items as well as with training programs.

. The board voted unanimously to approve the District Assurances, which state that all federal funds were spent according to federal guidelines and regulations.

. The board approved the application from the Mountain Heritage Festival Committee to hold a beauty contest in the Jenkins gym.

. The board approved the Special Education procedures, which are based on KSBA-recommended procedures.

. The board approved changes recommended by a faculty committee on Alternative Education policy, mostly regarding the number of days in AE for first and second offenses. However, the board asked the committee to strike a proposal allowing the superintendent or “designee” to approve placing a student in AE and leave the policy as is, with only the superintendent having that responsibility.

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