By Anne Forline
Gloucester City News
After going into executive session last week, the Gloucester City Board of Education (BOE) came back out and voted not to renew the contract of School Superintendent Paul Spaventa, which has one year remaining.
When the meeting was brought back to Public Session, a vote was taken concerning Spaventa.
Voting no were Louisa Llewellyn, Ed Hubbs, Jackie Borger, Linda Bittmann and Mike Gillen, who attended as an alternate for the first time for Bruce Darrow, the Brooklawn representative.
Voting yes were: Pat Hagan, Adam Baker and Kathy Hughes.
Abstaining from the vote were Gina Levins and Bruce Marks.
Reacting to the vote concerning the non-renewal of his contract, Mr. Spaventa said he was disappointed in the vote and thinks the staff is disappointed as well.
Spaventa is proud of the work that the staff has accomplished under his leadership. He said many advances were made that he is proud of, and he looks forward to continuing the good work in the upcoming year.
The June BOE meeting drew a predominantly standing room only crowd that was heavily rep-resented by the district’s teachers and paraprofessionals.
They were in attendance to show unity for not having a signed contract.
Superintendent Spaventa recognized that this meeting marked the final one for Cold Springs Principal Martin O’Connor, who is retiring on June 30 after close to 40 years of service in the district.
O’Connor was met with thunderous applause and a standing ovation, and he thanked the school board for their great relationship. He also thanked all of the staff and remarked how great it was working with them.
A motion was made and approved during the meeting’s business portion to hang a commemorative plaque on the early childhood education wing of Cold Springs School, since Mr. O’Connor was principal during the time when that portion of the school was constructed.
Student representatives Katie-Jo McGoldrick (Gloucester High), Leah Gommel (Mary Ethel Costello) and Taylor Stewart (Cold Springs) provided updates about graduation, prom, field trips and field days that had recently taken place in their respective schools.
During the public portion, John Rodden, a teacher and president of the Gloucester City Education Association, thanked the board, the solicitor and members of the negotiating team for taking part in contract negotiations.
Also, parent and police officer Mike Blackiston spoke during the public portion. For the past 10 years, he has served as the school resource officer.
He sought to dispel many of the rumors he has heard throughout the community by emphatically stating, “This is a safe and sound school system.”
Other motions approved by the School Board were the purchase of laptops for the sophomore class at Gloucester High and to close the building, but not the program, at Highland Park School.
Also, Regional Enrichment and Learning Center (REAL) and Educational Informational and Resource Center (EIRC) were approved to provide supplemental education services at $1,052 per student for a total of $182,000.
Jackie Borger said that 20 percent of these funds must be spent on supplemental education services, and then the rest may be allocated to supplement the after-school program at Cold Springs School.
Regarding the teacher’s contract, once the teachers ratify the conditions of the Memorandum of Agreement, the Board will approve the stipulations and the teachers’ contract will be settled.