By Leigh Anne Hubbs
Gloucester City News
The proposed 2011-2012 school budget totals $10,261,598.
According to the district’s website, most of the 4.4 percent increase is due to fixed costs such as benefits, energy costs and tuition. A user-friendly version of the budget can be found at mtephraimpublicschools.-org, BOE website, Budget for the 2011-2012 School Year.
The district’s broker advised that 2.1 percent of the budget increase is due to the Federal Health Care Reform Act, which includes a requirement that children of employees are to receive health benefits until age 26, three years longer than what the law previously required.
“Outrageous” is what one resident said in regard to the amount of the school tax, and added that the district needs to seriously consider consolidation.
Board President Dominic Cipolone said that steps are being taken to relieve the tax burden, and that the School Choice program which will allow students from other districts to attend Mount Ephraim is one of those steps.
A teacher asked the Board why the district needs legal representation for contract negotiations.
Cipolone said that it is atypical not to have representation, and that in this economic climate the board does not take the negotiation process lightly.
In other news, the Board was in executive session for four hours for a Superintendent Evaluation and other confidential matters.
Kenneth Visconti, Christina Banks, David Kroon and Judy Franchi-Wynters have been approved to be substitute teachers and paraprofessionals at a daily rate of $80 and $60, respectively.
Principal Michael Hunter introduced Student of the Month winners for the month of March; 1st grade Michael Downs, 2nd grade Taylor Finnegan, 3rd grade Andrew Chang, 4th grade Nicole Dutill, 5th grade David Critch, 6th grade Louis Wittje, 7th grade Sarah Krieg, and 8th grade Samuel Czerski.
Board members remind residents to vote in the school election which is on Wednesday, April 27, from 2-9 p.m. at Kershaw’s Media Center.