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Mt. Ephraim School Board Moves Election to November | GCN

By Leigh Anne Hubbs

Gloucester City News

Last month Governor Christie signed a law that allows School Boards to move their annual election to the General Election in November and raise the tax levy portion of the budget up to 2 percent without the need for voter approval.

Any increase in excess of 2 percent would still be up to the voters, and the decision can be reversed after four years.

During February’s Board of Education (BOE) meeting, Board President Dominick Cipolone along with Board Members Patricia Blaylock, Michael Gaglianone, David McDonough and Rocco Vespe (Joan Greenwood and James Pacetti were not present) voted in favor of the resolution, citing that more voters turn out for the General Election.

Board Vice President Nicholas Salamone, Jr. and Board Member Carl Ingram voted against the resolution.

Salamone said the School Budget is already the largest portion of property taxes, and that it is not his place to take the budget vote away from the public.

“What’s to stop a 2 percent increase each year for the next four years?” Mr. Ingram asked his fellow board members.

Superintendent Joseph Rafferty responded that the 2 percent is a cap, and that it will be the Board to determine the increase. Anything over 2 percent will be up to the voters.

Business Administrator Melissa Raywood stated that moving the election will save the district money.

Unlike the April election, where the district must pay for election costs such as voting machine transportation and board workers, Raywood said, the costs are covered by the State or County as part of the General Election and the district will only be responsible for any increased costs, which are estimated to be minimal.

Last April only approximately 500 of the 3,200 registered Mount Ephraim voters participated in the School Board Election.

Cipolone said that more voters mean that there will be a better representation of what people want.

In other news, Mr. Rafferty said that the staff and students did an “excellent job” during the Tier I Lockdown ordered by the Mount Ephraim Police Department on the morning of January 26, after it was reported that the New York Gold Exchange on Black Horse Pike was robbed.

Tier I means that there is a possible threat outside of the school but classes continue on as normal.

  Throughout the lockdown, Rafferty was updated by Police Captain Brian Beppel and parents were notified of the situation through Connect Ed.

  The district along with Chick-fil-A, will co-spon-sor an American Red Cross Blood Drive Friday, February 17 from 1-7 p.m. at Kershaw’s MPR; students have off this day as it is a teacher in-service day.

  The district now has a page on Facebook which can be found by searching “Mt. Ephraim Public Schools.” Anyone interested is encouraged to “Like” the page for updates relating to the district.

  Twelve students under the direction of Music and Technology Instructor Ma-ry Manion were honored during the meeting for their participation in the 9th annual Winter Festival Honors Band which was hosted by Audubon High School: fifth graders Julianne Brown, Mark Colavito, Gabrielle Crain, Nicole Dutill, Briana Hamilton, Robert Snyder, and Keven Mendez; and sixth graders Kenzie Calhoun, Jaymi Vilardo, Emma Ball, William Stopper and Gregory Veach.

  Rafferty congratulated resident and former Mount Ephraim student Brandon Libby for his performance on “Jeopardy” last month, where he won over $32,000 over the course of three days.

  Alexandra Kenney will be a Kindergarten Teacher for the 2012-2013 school year at a rate of $48,111 with single benefits pending negotiations agreement.

  Kristen Tegan has been approved to be Social Studies Teacher Shannon Finegan’s long term substitute from 2/17/12 until the end of the school year at a prorated salary of $48,111.

  The Board has approved Crystal Murri to be a Shining Star Program Substitute at a rate of $9.76 per hour. It is a before and after school child care program.

  The following field trips have been approved: 2nd grade to visit Academy of Natural Sciences on March 15; 4th grade will visit The Wetlands Institute on May 9; and on May 22 the 8th grade will take a trip to Washington D.C.

  Student of the Month Winners are as listed; 1st grade Sydney Price, 2nd grade Gianna Canuso, 3rd grade Shane Price, 4th grade Andrew Maxwell, 5th grade Jonathan Bell, 6th grade Emma Ball, 7th grade Tiffany Gavin, and 8th grade Taylor Gavin.

  Mr. Vespe thanked the public for coming out and participating.

  The next BOE meeting will be Monday, March 12, at 7:30 p.m. in Kershaw’s Media Center.