By Chris Concannon
Gloucester City News
As New Jersey has enacted some of the toughest anti-bullying legislation in the country, a young Bellmawr student put her thoughts to words, penning a short song which she performed at the recent Bellmawr Board of Education (BOE) meeting.
Bellmawr Park School’s Megan Arnold, along with some of her classmates, sang “Be A Bully Hero, Don’t Be A Bully Zero,” with the help of Music Director Sally Kolody.
Miss Arnold was accompanied by Mc Kenna Coombe, Aiden Dougherty, Gage Hall, Emma Hearn, Michael Hoyte, Haley Long and Paige Tobey.
Principal Elizabeth Calabria said the school is lucky to have Megan, along with the students who assisted her.
Following the song, Board President Jamie Casey presented the October Board Award to Mr. Di Napoli, IT Director for the law firm of Brown and Connery, for the company’s donation of four complete computers, including flat screen monitors and wireless keyboards.
It was noted that Di Napoli cleaned out each computer, re-loading all necessary software to finish the re-vamping.
School reports were then read by the following: E.M. Burke, Waliya Rahman Grade 4; Bellmawr Park, Jalen Mac Minn Grade 4; Bell Oaks, Darby Casey Grade 6.
Superintendent Annette Castiglione presented October Staff Awards to: Bellmawr Park, Jennifer Tofts; E.M. Burke, Kristin Steffen.
Under Committee Reports, Bill Murray commented on the new ovens installed in the cafeterias, adding new menu items will be arriving soon.
A sample tray of some of the upcoming selections was available for tasting at the meeting, including French fries and chicken nuggets. All menu items will be cooked and prepared with the student’s overall health in mind.
Murray said the NJ Department of Transportation (DOT) has agreed to provide $150,000 as compensation to the district for land which they will seize under State Eminent Domain laws, as part of the ongoing Route 295/42/76 highway project.
Castiglione said DOT will also provide air conditioning units for the affected classrooms facing the new roadways, in terms of noise and dust.
Business Administrator Christopher Rodia, discussing a recent energy survey, said the district will try to secure a loan from the Camden County Improvement Authority for improvements to energy efficiency.
Under policy matters, the Superintendent noted an available booklet, which lists complete job descriptions for every District employee.
She also mentioned the recent Family Liaison workshop, adding that a second daytime class was held and was well-attended by parents.
Casey said a new Basic Skills teacher will be hired, following imminent Board approval.
Castiglione addressed a small handful of recent bullying issues, noting five incidents were reported and acted upon by mid-October.
She also said that 52 percent of Bellmawr students fall into a Title I classification, which is to say that they are eligible to receive free or reduced price lunches.
Bellmawr Park PTO Rep Deanna Di Napoli commented on an available cookbook for students and staff, and Bell Oaks Principal Anthony Farinelli commented on upcoming Middle School PTO-based events.
In the public forum Mrs. Di Napoli had concerns about the ID system for the lunch program, noting that some of the new four digit ID’s did not work properly.
Representatives from food service provider NutriServ were on hand to answer parent queries on the system, noting that they are currently working on smoothing out the kinks in the system.
A discussion followed regarding several issues, such as purchasing snacks with cash, instead of pre-loaded account monies. Stephanie Gentry asked if parents could volunteer to help students key in their ID codes. NutriServ welcomed her suggestion.
At the idea of installing solar panels to help offset energy costs, Casey said the roofs need repair before anything else is considered.
Board Member Mike Williams said all three roofs are bad, with Bell Oaks being the most in need of replacement.
Casey said the cost to replace all three roofs (patching can no longer suffice) would be approximately $3.4 million.
When asked about school choice (Bellmawr is a participating school district), Ms. Castiglione noted that once a student leaves Bellmawr to attend school in another district, they would not be able to return.
The spirited meeting, attended by more parents than usual, continued with concerns over safety at the Bellmawr Park parking areas.
The Superintendent suggested contacting the Chief of Police directly.
All business on the evening’s agenda was approved, with the following of note:
Fundraising requests were approved for: Bell Oaks Intramurals Halloween Candy Buy-back, which would ask students to choose to donate candy to military troops; 7th Grade (Bell Oaks) Hoagie Sale on Monday, October 31 and Wednesday November 23, to raise money to defer the cost of the 7th Grade Field Trip; Bell Oaks Student Council, for the following: Canned food drive from November 7-18, cookie dough and pie sale from November 14-29, Candy Canes for the Cure from December 5-9 (Proceeds to go to the American Cancer Society), and January 16-27, 2012, to collect supplies for the Camden County Animal Shelter; Bellmawr Park and E.M. Burke Schools, from February 13-17, 2012 Jump Rope for Heart, to raise funds for the American Heart Association; Bell Oaks Renaissance on May 17, 2012, to sell water ice at the 5th and 6th Grade school exits at the end of the school day, to raise money for renaissance bags, as well as pay for reward days.
Field trips were also approved for: Interested Bell Oaks 8th Grade students to visit the Camden County Technical School on Thursday December 1, 2011; Bellmawr Park 1st Grade, to Adventure Aquarium on Friday April 27, 2012; Bell Oaks 7th Grade, to Medieval Times (Lyndhurst, NJ) on Friday May 4, 2012; Bell Oaks Renaissance, to the Camden Riversharks game on Wed-nesday May 23, 2012 (interested students must have attained at least three gold cards); Bell Oaks 6th Grade, to the Franklin Institute on Friday June 1, 2012.
Upcoming November District activities: Friday, November 18 Report Cards (1st Marking Period) and PTO Dance (B/O) from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Monday, November 21 Parent Teacher Conferences (One session day)’ Tuesday, November 22 Parent Teacher Conferences (One session day); Wednesday, November 23 One session day and November 24 and 25 School closed for Thanks-giving recess; Monday, November 28 PLC Meeting (EMB and B/O); Tuesday, November 29 PLC Meeting (BP).
For information contact the District offices at 856-931-6298, or on the web at bellmawrschools.org.