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Gloucester City Board of Education News for May

Beginning in June Bellmawr School Board to Hold Two Meetings a Month

By Chris Concannon

Gloucester City News

  The Bellmawr Board of Education Reorganization Meeting May 12 kicked off with the Pine Grove Tower Ad swearing-in of two returning members, along with a freshman.

  Jody Mangus and Michael Williams returned to continue their work, while Edward Legenski III was also sworn in as the lone newcomer.

  The swearing-in was conducted by Board Solicitor Ron Sahli.

  Following the ceremony, incoming Business Administrator (BA) Chris Rodia solicited nominations for the Board’s President and Vice President.

  Williams nominated Jamie Casey to return as President, seconded by Mangus. Eric Hoban nominated Mangus for Vice President, seconded by Bill Murray. Both nominees were accepted.

  Casey then thanked Mr. Rodia for signing on as the new BA, and thanked outgoing interim Business Administrator N. John Amato for his service to the District.

  Amato said he is just shy of serving three years in that capacity, and went on to thank the Board and school staff for their assistance over the years.

  Casey then commented on returning to a two-meeting format, and the measure was approved, effective for the June meetings.

  He said the Workshop Meeting will be on the third Monday (June 20), and the Regular Meeting will return to the third Thursday (June 16).

  Generally, the meetings fall on the same week, with the Workshop falling prior to the Regular Meeting, and as such, those dates may be changed.

  Gloucester City News readers are asked to check back in future issues for updates.

  All Board of Education Meetings are open to the public, with the exception of an Executive Session.

  Casey then discussed a recent meeting with Mayor and Council on the budget. The local school budget had been defeated by voters during the April 27th School Board Election.

  Superintendent Annette Castiglione said the Board may need to trim certain items, as they were asked to shave $157,000 from the budget.

  She said that some have agreed to continue at reduced fees, including the District’s physician and solicitor. It was noted that the meeting between the District and local government officials was less than amicable.

  Murray moved on a motion to add John Wade, Esq., to the list of possible solicitors, in the event the District moves from their current arrangement with Mr. Sahli.

  The motion was seconded prior to going to a Board vote and was carried, with Mr. Williams casting the lone “no” vote on the measure.

  He was informed that Mr. Wade’s retainer fees were nearly double that of Mr. Sahli’s at $85 per hour.

  Castiglione said she would be comfortable adding Mr. Wade’s firm on a no-fee consulting basis, and that she is also comfortable with Mr. Sahli’s services. She requested that any use of the board solicitor should be brought before her first.

  Casey added that such requests should also be brought before either him, or Ms. Mangus.

  Murray then raised concern about public notification of meetings.

  Casey informed him that local papers such as the Retrospect, along with the Gloucester City News, are used ahead of larger publications, such as the Courier-Post, as their ad costs are more reasonable.

  Murray took issue with that, saying “The Gloucester City News is not a Bellmawr paper.”

  (Editor’s note: The Gloucester City News is the only paper that covers the Bellmawr Board of Education meeting every month, and has been doing so for 12 years).

  Head Custodian Glenn Cook then gave an update on the District’s IPM (Integrated Pest Management) program.

  In committee reports, Mangus said that graduation will be Wednesday, June 15, beginning at 7 p.m. on the Bell Oaks soccer field.

  She said the ceremony will be moved to the All-Purpose Room (gym) in the event of inclement weather.

  Ticketing for the event will be four per graduate for outdoor, and only two per graduate for an indoor commencement.

  June 16 will be the final day of school for students as well as staff.

  She closed her remarks by stating that Fourth Grade orientation will be Wed-nesday, June 1.

  The Superintendent said the District received a colonial garden, to be used by students.

  On the issue of parent parking, Mangus said the issue on Bell Road is being looked into, as it is under Camden County’s jurisdiction.

  Principals Elizabeth Calabria (Bellmawr Park) and Frank Jankowski (E.M. Burke) also added remarks regarding parking at their respective schools.

  Casey then welcomed Mr. Rodia to the District, Mr. Legenski to the Board, and welcomed Ms. Mangus and Mr. Williams back to their seats for another term.

  Castiglione then commented on changes to the district, since beginning her time here in 2007.

  Regarding cutting back on the budget, Castiglione stated that it was unlikely the District would lose any staff positions, adding that they have to take a long, hard look at how the District functions in the community in terms of stopping non-critical spending.

  Bell Oaks teacher Ed Biehl then spoke about a recent meeting he attended of the NJ School Boards Association (NJSBA), along with the Superintendent and Eighth Grader Derrick Cano.

  In heralding Mr. Cano’s composure at that meeting, Mr. Biehl noted that his mother took him and his siblings out of Catholic school to attend Bellmawr schools.

  Steve Magpiong asked if there would be another meeting with Mayor and Council on the parking issue, and was informed there would be no further meetings with the Borough on the matter.

  All business on the evening’s agenda was approved, with the following of note:

  As to Item #G2, summer math tutoring will be offered at Bell Oaks, at no cost to the District. The program will tutor Grades 3-7 every Monday in July and August from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at a (parent) cost of $25 per student per hour.

  As to Item #G3, the Betty Sheppard Summer Camp will take place for three weeks over the summer, at no cost to the taxpayers.

  For information, along with any questions, contact the District office, at (856) 931-6298, or on the web at