Whitesburg KY

Stimulus funds help Jenkins

A health and wellness center for all students and a new math teaching program for elementary students are among the ways the Jenkins Independent School District will use federal stimulus money which has made its way to local school districts.

Jenkins Superintendent Debbie Watts announced the arrival of the stimulus money at a special meeting held July 21, then elaborated on plans for using the money at the Jenkins School Board’s July meeting on Monday night.

Watts said the Jenkins system has received money through President Obama’s economic stimulus program that will allow the district to build a fully functioning health and wellness center that can be used for weight training for athletic teams as well as an exercise center for students and eventually for the public.

Jenkins Middle High School Principal Lisa Carroll said progress is already being made on the health and wellness center. She said elliptical machines, treadmills, and rubber flooring have already arrived and that some older equipment has been discarded. Carroll said old weightlifting equipment can be used with the new and planning for public use will be completed when the entire JMHS coaching staff is in place and has had the opportunity to make schedules for use by the various athletic teams.

The “Everyday Mathematics” program, which also will be paid for with stimulus money, integrates math instruction with hands-on training and math journals.

Stimulus funds will also provide $25,000 for the high school science laboratory, $2,500 to Advanced Placement World History, $2,800 to Reading Recovery, and $7,500 to Advanced Placement Spanish. This, along with the $39,000 for the wellness center and $25,000 for Everyday Mathematics, totals $93,800 from the stimulus program.

In other business, the board voted unanimously to replace the air-conditioning system at Burdine Elementary School, if at all possible before school starts on August 6. Because it will cost less than the state limit of $20,000, the board directed Finance Officer Candala Gibson to go ahead and contract with whichever of two companies making quotes with the system can get the job done before school starts. Kentucky law mandates that expenditures more than $20,000 be advertised for bids.

Gibson said at the July 27 meeting that a contractor had been hired to install the system, but installation can’t begin until August 17, 11 days after school starts. Superintendent Watts reported to the board that Elliott Contractors has turned the air-conditioning on and charged the pipes with water at Jenkins Middle High School with no leaks reported.

Also this week, the board honored retired Pike County Schools Supt. Frank Welch, who headed up an assistance team assigned to Jenkins by the state Department of Education last year. Supt. Watts said Welch’s services had been invaluable in working to get the system back on track. She presented Welch with a glass plaque in recognition of his service and said she looks forward to working with him again this year.

Welch told the board he felt blessed to work in the Jenkins system and said it was a joy to work with what he described as an exceptionally good group of students. He also complimented the faculty and staff as well as the board. Welch is a graduate of Fleming-Neon High School and said he had always admired the Jenkins system. He also gave high praise to new football coach Larry Maggard.

Watts reported that she has received letters of resignation from Jerry Bentley, Brian Johnson, and Kathy Johnson. Bentley and Brian Johnson taught at the Middle High School, and Kathy Johnson taught at Burdine Elementary School.

Watts also reported that Nathan Mullins and Ken Holmes have been hired to teach English in the system, and that Ashley Addington will teach health and physical education in addition to her coaching duties with the Lady Cavalier basketball team.

Board Chairman Durward Narramore Jr. asked Superintendent Watts to clarify the new chain of command in the system since Jenkins is now a single-entity school, a designation which places more responsibility on the superintendent while eliminating site-based councils.

Watts confirmed that the superintendent is now responsible for hiring and firing personnel and the three principals in the system — Carroll at the Middle High School, Diane Baker Sutphin at Burdine Elementary, and Kristie Collett at McRoberts Elementary — report to the superintendent.

Carroll told the board the Middle High School has enrolled 28 new students. She also reported that 32 boys have signed up for the high school football team and 24 for the middle school team. She also agreed with Welch that Coach Maggard has sparked interest in the football team.

Sutphin told the board the custodial staff at Burdine has been working extremely hard over the summer, saying workers had literally taken the school apart and reassembled it. Sutphin also said she expects an increase in enrollment for the coming year.

Collett told the board that former McRoberts Elementary School student Ken Anderson, who is now the director of Human Resources, Safety and Staffing at Toyota Georgetown, has sent 10 new Dell computers to the school and will send new chairs and tables for the school library soon. Anderson is also largely responsible for providing the Toyota grant for the McRoberts Community Center’s computer center. Collett also praised former student A.J. Hamilton, who will attend Berea College this fall, for painting a mural in the McRoberts library.

Collett told the board the school has received several donations from Family to Family, a New York outreach program. She said another outreach group, “Good People,” based in New Jersey, will visit McRoberts to evaluate the school and community in order to send volunteers to work in there this fall. She added that actress Hillary Duff ‘s “Backpack” program has also become interested in McRoberts Elementary. She said she has received several letters from Duff, who may schedule a visit around Christmas.

Director of Pupil Personnel Harvey Tackett announced an “Attendance Incentive Program” to reward students who have perfect or near-perfect attendance. Awards will be given at every grade level. Tackett said he hopes to persuade an area automobile dealer to donate a car that would be awarded to a high school student with a driver’s license and excellent attendance who would be chosen from a drawing.

Tackett said the automobile program would present a golden opportunity for a car dealer to cement goodwill in the Jenkins area as well as providing a tremendous incentive for attendance in the upper grades. He said he expects attendance in the first month to be about 98 percent. School calendars and bus schedules will appear in The Mountain Eagle before school begins August 6.

In other board business:

• A “meet and greet” for the entire school system will be held at the Jenkins City Park August 3 at 5:30 p.m. The public is invited to meet staff and faculty and learn more about the coming school year.

• The board voted unanimously to set locker fees for JMHS at $5 per student and participation fees for elementary football, cheerleading and basketball at $10 per student, with families with more than one student paying $5 after the first student. The fees are used to pay for t-shirts and trophies.

• Board member Eileen Sanders reported that Letcher County Parks and Recreation Director Derek Barto sent a truckload of mulch to the McRoberts Elementary/ Community Park. She said the county cannot help in providing rubber playground material at Burdine.

• Federal Programs Director Sherry Wright told the board she hopes the “Obama” money (federal stimulus money) will allow the system to have a pre-school special education class. Wright also said that all special education seniors received a general diploma last year and none were suspended more than 10 days.

• Material is beginning to arrive to renovate the JMSH science lab. Each elementary school will also receive a science lab with the next “Obama” stimulus.

• The board voted to approve the updated JMHS student and staff handbooks. The updates address the dress code for students and teachers. Students will now be required to make up all school work missed because of absence, whether it is excused or not. The grade point average to receive an A in high school has been raised from 90 percent to 93 percent as well.

The JMHS campus is now smoke free, with no smoking permitted anywhere on the school grounds. This puts the school in compliance with county and state law.

• A new school logo, which is very similar to the Consol Cavalier from the old Dunham coal tipple, was adopted and will appear on all uniforms and school forms including letterheads and business cards. Board member Tracy Goff also suggested that high school art students “touch up” the Cavalier painting at the railroad trestle in Jenkins. The logo is available on the school website.

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