(GLOUCESTER CITY NEWS MARCH 21 ISSUE)--During the recent Gloucester City Board of Education meeting, board member Jackie Borger said that when the State Budget was announced, “We came out $363,000 up. However, benefits costs are being driven up 13%, so we are actually down $1.6 million.”
As for how this deficit will affect the district, Borger said it will be addressed and discussed at the upcoming Budget Meeting on Tuesday, March 26 at 7:00 pm.
In the old business portion of the meeting, board member Patrick Hagan, made a motion to allow the transfer of sick time from one employee, who is retiring, to two sick employees.
There was a lengthy discussion among the Board prior to the vote because the person who would like to donate the sick time is a non-represented employee.
Borger stated that a sick-bank needs to be established for the non-represented employees, just as there is one for the represented employees.
Adam Baker responded by stating, “It will take too long for them to set up the committee when they need the time now.”
Doug Ziegler added that perhaps this could be handled on a case-by-case basis until guidelines are established.
Bill Johnson said that the time is already accounted for, so there would be no financial strain.
Patrick Hagan agreed that the non-represented employees need to establish a sick-bank and said, “It is a good thing to do.”
He then asked for a roll call vote with the majority of the board members voting in favor of the motion, with the lone dissension coming from Borger, who was concerned about the precedent that would be set.
During the meeting, GHS Principal announced that football coach, Leon Harris, is retiring after 26 years. Dr. Don stated, “The athletes learned the importance of leadership from Mr. Harris when they were on the field with him.”
As for Mr. Harris’ replacement, Board Member Patrick Hagan said that an appointment has not been named or voted on.
Police Chief George Berglund spoke before the Board about working together with the district and the city’s officers having access to patrol the schools at any time. The Chief said he looks forward to making the schools better and safer.
Borger commented that the School Innovations Committee recently met. She said the committee discussed the possibility of adding softball teams for the fourth-sixth grades and also the seventh and eighth grade levels. She suggested that the fourth-sixth grade softball teams may help the transition from Cold Springs School to Mary Ethel Costello School.
The Committee also discussed the possibility of reintroducing the Industrial Arts. They would look to possibly incorporate curriculum that would have the students working on refurbished houses in town in collaboration with the St. Joseph’s Society. Borger said that this matter is merely in the discussion stages.
As for all of the other business on the Board’s agenda, all items passed. This included: The approval of purchases from Applied Video Technology in the amount of $26,410.00 for the Channel 19 Program, which will be reimbursed by the City of Gloucester City.
The approval to purchase one SMART Board from Total Video Products in the amount of $4,827 through the PEPPM State Contract Pricing.
The approval to grant permission to apply for the New Jersey Department of Education’s 21st Century Community Learning Centers Program Continuation Grant for the 2013-14 School year in the amount of $405,000. The purpose of this is to supplement the education of students in grades 4-12 who attend schools eligible for Title 1 school-wide programs.
The approval to grant permission to apply for the New Jersey Department of Agriculture’s Fresh Fruits and Vegetable Program for the 2013-14 school year at a cost of $50-$75 per student at Mary Ethel Costello School and Cold Springs School.
This grant provides funding to schools to serve fresh fruits and vegetables to students during the school day, outside of their regular meal times. The motion was carried, however both Gina Levins and Adam Baker voted no.
The approval of awarding a contract to MJJ Construction, as the lowest responsible bidder, in the amount of $213,000 for the Basement Fire Suppression project at Mary Ethel Costello.
The approval of awarding a contract to J.P.S. Construction as the lowest responsible bidder, in the amount of $47,000 for the Chimney Repair Project at Mary Ethel Costello.
Both of these approvals are subject to and contingent upon the receipt of an Authorization to Proceed with Award of Contract by the New Jersey School Development Authority.
During the meeting School Superintendent, Joe Rafferty, acknowledged many of the district’s students and honored them for their many accomplishments.
He said, “As a superintendent, I want to make sure that young people are recognized for the great things that they have done. It is a privilege to have young people honored.”
The field hockey team was named Tri-County classic Division Champions with a conference record of 9-1.
The football team was honored as West Jersey Football League Classic Division Champions with a team record in Division of 5-0 and an overall record of 7-3.
The Lady Lions Basketball Team won South Jersey Group 1 Sectional Championship, for the second time in school history. Both Madison McClintock and Alisha Fox scored 1,000 points.
In Wrestling, Allan Westenberger was the first wrestler in Gloucester High School history to be named District 29 Champion. Westenberger competed in the 285 pound weight class.
The Girls’ Bowling Team finished the season second in the South Jersey Group 1 Sectionals and qualified for NJSIAA State Finals before finishing fourth in Group 1 in the State.
Stefano Okoro co-captained the Boys Basketball team and helped to achieve a winning record and the Group 1 play-offs. Okoro set the single season scoring record for Gloucester High School with 762 points and he also became the school’s leading career scorer with a total of 2,133 points.
Art teacher Beverly Palaia commented that Gloucester High was the only high school in the Delaware Valley to win major awards in both the Artistic Class and the Horticultural Classes at the recent Philadelphia Flower Show.
Palaia said that she was told that their Lion display was the most photographed exhibit at the show. She remarked about what the students created and accomplished, “It was very rewarding to see the students achieve this.”
The Cooking Club, which is made possible through the 21st Century Grant, addressed the Board of Education and showed their culinary skills by bringing treats for the BOE and audience to enjoy. Mykel Toliver said that being a part of the Cooking Club has given him the opportunity to work with others by learning to deal with everyone’s personalities. Mykel said, “Being a part of this club has built up my self-confidence because I have learned to accomplish something good.”
Fellow club member, Amanda Michael, said that the club has taught her how to use math and has given her experience to be able to share a meal with her family.
On Thursday, April 11, the BOE will meet for its caucus session and will hold its regular meeting on Tuesday, April 16 at 7:00 pm. All meetings will take place in the Gloucester City Junior-City High Media Center.
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