By Anne Forline
Gloucester City News
(FEBRUARY 7, 2013 ISSUE)The Bellmawr Board of Education (BOE) recently underwent several key reorganizational changes that included one board member’s resignation, two new School Board members being sworn in, and the naming of a new President, Vice President and Business Administrator.
Newcomers Mike Eckmeyer and Chris Concannon were sworn in to the Board, while Jody Mangus was elected as the Board President and Eric Hoban was named Vice President.
Amy Capriotti was appointed Business Administrator/Board Secretary, School Alliance Insurance Fund Commissioner and Qualified Purchasing Agent.
She replaces Valerie Carmody, who had been serving in an interim capacity.
Board Member Ed Legenski, submitted his letter of resignation to the Board because he recently moved out of town.
Mangus said the process for selecting Legenski’s replacement will begin shortly.
After the notice is published and potential candidates submit letters, the BOE can move forward with the interview process. Mangus expects an appointment to be made by the end of next month.
During the meeting Councilman Jim D’Angelo spoke on behalf of the mayor and council to endorse the Bond Referendum for the district’s aging roofs.
He reiterated the need for the referendum to pass this time around. Back in December 2012, the $3.1 million bond had been voted down by 38 votes and will be brought again before voters in a special election on March 12, 2013.
School Superintendent, Annette Castiglione responded to D’Angelo by stating she is optimistic about putting this matter before the voters again.
“I have a good feeling that we will have more success this time because the people will know more,” she said.
During the business portion of the meeting, several motions were made and approved by the BOE, including:
The approval to terminate a Kindergarten paraprofessional from E.M. Burke effective December 31, 2012. The motion carried with no further details given regarding this termination.
The superintendent indicated that she was not at liberty to discuss personnel matters, but stated that position remains vacant and a substitute is used when needed.
The approval for the “Interactive Kids Social Skills Group” at Bellmawr Park School at a cost of $115 per hour.
This program is geared toward students ages 6 to 9 years old and will focus on activities that stress communication, sharing, interaction and cooperation.
The dates for the program are January 24 and 31, February 7, 21, and 28, March 7,21, and 28 from 3:15-4:15 p.m. To register, call the Child Study Team at 931-6305.
The approval for several field trips. The fourth grade students at Ethel Burke will travel to the Wetlands Institute and the Cape May Zoo on May 22, 2013. The second grade classes at Ethel Burke and Bellmawr Park will visit Citizens Bank Park and the Franklin Mint on May 28, 2013.
The approval for the Board to enter into an agreement with Real Time, a student information system for the 2013-14 school year. The cost is yet to be determined and will be based upon the services selected.
The superintendent said this new system is “New Jersey friendly and will be a lot easier to track student grades.”
Parent Dave Magpiong, asked if the Real Time program would contain a parent portal component, to which Ms. Castiglione responded that it would.
There were also several presentations made during the meeting.
Patti Bartley, who is the district’s Supervisor of Special Services, acknowledged several students in honor of “National School Choice Week,” which ran from January 27 to February 2.
In her remarks, Ms. Bartley said that last year, Bellmawr accepted its first School Choice Student. This year, the district welcomed five more and next year, the district will add 11 more students under School Choice.
Castiglione added that for every School Choice student that comes to Bellmawr, tuition dollars follow.
School Choice allows Bellmawr to provide an excellent education while generating revenue, the superintendent said.
Amy Capriotti read a resolution recognizing the School Board in honor of “School Board Recognition Month in New Jersey” for January, 2013. In part, the resolution stated that the Bellmawr BOE is one of 587 local school boards in New Jersey that sets policies and embraces the goal of high-quality education for all New Jersey public school students.
Additionally, the resolution acknowledged that New Jersey’s local school boards help determine community goals for the education of approximately 1.4 million children in pre-k through 12th grade.
Student readers from all of the district’s schools addressed the BOE and gave reports.
From Bellmawr Park School, fourth grader, Jasmyne Lopez, also a School Choice student, said that the students are working toward their reading goals with the 100 Book Challenge and the students enjoyed participating in the Second Annual Holiday Sing Off.
From Ethel Burke, fourth grader Emily Perez, said that at her school, students are also participating in the 100 Book Challenge to encourage independent reading at just the right level. She also stated that the students and staff had recently participated in a lockdown drill.
Eighth grade students from Bell Oaks, Kassi Bowers, Eric Sweeney and Brianna Monroe, spoke about the upcoming fashion show that will take place in March. The students said that the fashion show is completely student-driven, with no parental help allowed. The student models, who walk in the fashion show wear clothing that is donated, had been previously worn to school dances, or purchased at thrift stores.
The proceeds from the ticket sales will be donated to charities, which include breast cancer charities or the Animal Orphanage.
During the public discussion portion of the meeting, Board Member, Bill Murray expressed concern for students’ safety when they have to walk back and forth to school following a snowstorm. He acknowledged that our area has not yet experienced significant snowfall, but urged that this matter be dealt with now.
Referring to the long stretch of sidewalk that runs from The Bank, past St. Mary’s Cemetery and down to St. Joachim Church, Mr. Murray said, “If it snows, the kids need a place to walk, but not in the street.”
Councilman D’Angelo responded by stating, “We have been on the Diocese of Camden for years to clear the snow, but when they don’t do it, ultimately the Borough has to.”
Ms. Mangus added that letters will be sent to the Diocese of Camden and also The Bank.
Prior to concluding the meeting, Mr. Magpiong addressed the entire BOE to thank them for their time and directly acknowledged Mr. Eckmeyer and Mr. Concannon to thank them joining the Board.
Both Eckmeyer and Concannon said they were grateful for the opportunity to serve and Concannon added that he looks forward to working with the learning community.
The Board will not have a Work Session in February. Its next Action Meeting will be Monday, February 25, 2013 at 7 p.m. at the Bell Oaks Media Center.