Whitesburg KY

Students ‘deserve better,’ says Jenkins board leader

For the second time in less than five years, schools making up the Jenkins Independent School System have failed to meet their goals required by the federal No Child Left Behind program.

Last week’s release of national test scores for the 2009-10 academic year shows that the Jenkins schools failed to meet any of the reading and math standards required under the No Child Left Behind Act which became law in January 2002.

So dismal are the “Average Yearly Progress” results for the Jenkins schools that only three of 10 of No Child Left Behind’s established goals were met, and they came in the “participation” category. The latest testing results come just three years after the failure by the Jenkins schools to meet goals in the Kentucky CATS testing resulted in the Jenkins Independent Board of Education creating a Voluntary Partnership Assistance Team led by former Pikeville Superintendent Frank Welch in partnership with the Kentucky Department of Education.

Teachers and administrators who attended this week’s meeting of the Jenkins Board of Education said they would do everything they could to increase scores, but Board Chairman Durward Narramore Jr. told the assembled staff that the “kids deserve better.”

Narramore also read from a letter describing the problems faced by Belfry Middle School in neighboring Pike County, which was flooded in 2008 and could not complete the school year. Belfry MS placed second overall in statewide test scores for 2010. Narramore reminded the staff that Belfry students mirror Jenkins students in socio-economic conditions and the problems they face, but still managed to score just three points below first place for the entire state.

“The board will off er support,” said Narramore. “But you are the ones who will make it happen. You owe it to the kids and to the community.”

Superintendent Deborah Watts told the staff they were looking at a hard year, but instead of looking back must work for a brighter future. Watts said she has every confidence that Jenkins will be among those systems celebrating gains in 2011.

Burdine Elementary Principal Gracie Maggard told the board that students who score in the “novice” category in the national test do not have a very bright future and pledged to eliminate novice scores.

Maggard said she is very pleased with parental involvement at Burdine and said the school had a Family Literacy Night with over 80 parents attending and a fundraiser which brought in more than $1,800, which will be used for classroom books.

In other business, Watts introduced Amanda Sturgill as the new Assistant Principal at McRoberts Elementary School. Sturgill said she is excited to be in the Jenkins System and looks forward to making some major changes for the better. She said she is looking at routines and procedures, classroom management, teacher scheduling consistency, and parent and community involvement.

Director of Pupil Personnel Harvey Tackett praised the district’s school nurse program, which he said had already kept absences down tremendously by treating minor problems in school rather than having students call home.

However, Tackett said the system still has too many absences and pointed to a project being carried out in conjunction with the Letcher County District Court to prevent truancy.

The Truancy Diversion Program involved Letcher District Judge Kevin Mullins and Court Designated Worker Mike Watts. The program is a project of the Kentucky Department of Juvenile Services and the Administrative Office of the Courts to provide educational outreach to juveniles across the state through lawrelated educational programs to combat the negative effects of truancy.

The program exists in two phases, Pre-Complaint and Complaint Phase. In Pre-Complaint Phase, if a student is truant, which means that student has been absent or tardy three times without a valid excuse, the student and parent or guardian must meet with the Truancy Diversion Program team and attend an educational workshop.

The Complaint Phase begins once a student is reported truant two or more times. They are then considered habitually truant and the Court Designated Worker will fill out a complaint on the student. The student and parent/guardian must meet with the TDP Team and attend an educational workshop. In addition, the student and parent/ guardian must attend weekly sessions with the TDP team and comply with the recommendations set out by the team. The Complaint Phase consists of ten sessions.

Tackett told the board that attendance as of last week stands at 93.4 for K-12, with attendance up in the elementary schools. He also cited better staff attendance as a goal and Superintendent Watts agreed saying that attendance has a tremendous impact on progress in schools.

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