The Gloucester City Board of Education (BOE) voted last week to authorize a design change for the new middle school to include field light proposals at a cost budget of $125,000.
School Superintendent, Joe Rafferty, clarified by saying: “It is just a conduit that is going to be underground. It is not the lighting itself.”
Rafferty explained this opportunity to install the conduit was brought to his attention by the New Jersey Schools Development Authority (NJSDA) and Terminal Construction.
It was recommended “as an opportunity that we shouldn’t let go by.”
Rafferty said that by putting the conduit in now: “We won’t have to go through the expense in years to come to rip up the field.”
He also called it a “smart move and an opportunity for us to save money up front on the project.”
Rafferty further added: “It is important to understand that we are not financially capable of putting up lights in the next two or three years. We would sit until we have the available funds to do the rest of the project, but if we don’t do this, then it will cost us almost double than it would now.”
Board member Jackie Borger said, “It’s just so much money right now and we just don’t have the money.”
Board member Stephanie Cohan asked what budget the project would be coming from.
Business Administrator, Peg McDonnell responded by saying: “It would come from the capital reserve funds.”
McDonnell spoke about various budget items and said: “There are funds in there for things for the new middle school not covered by the SDA and we know that there are a number of things that the SDA will not pay for.”
The superintendent also speculated that January, 2017 could be an “outside date” for the opening of the middle school. However, he said: “We have not gotten any official notification of that.”
Jackie Borger said: “We have not considered this. We would then have to push a large amount of things into the budget (of the year that the middle school will open) that we weren’t expecting, things like phones, computers, and wiring. All that stuff we would have to move up. I don’t want to not have money for books, but have a lovely space to put lights.”
Board President Ed Hubbs said: “Don’t get that date of January in your head because anything can happen.”
To which Stephanie Cohan agreed, but replied: “We still have to be prepared for that.”
Peg McDonnell said: “If it can’t be done, then the money won’t be used for that, but the purpose is to align the money so that the conduit could be done.”
Jackie Borger asked: “If they say we can, does that mean we are going to?”
McDonnell replied: “We would still have to abide by state contractor rules of purchasing for approval.”
She pointed out the wording in the motion: “It says ‘subject to Department of Education (DOE) and SDA approval and compliance with NJ State Public Contract laws and bidding requirements’.”
When the matter was brought to a vote, the motion passed. Jackie Borger voted no. Voting yes were Stephanie Cohan, Richard Dolson, Ed Hubbs, Bill Johnson, Bruce Marks, and Tracy Farrow. Board members Patrick Hagan and Linda Bittman were absent from the meeting.
In other matters, all other business brought before the BOE passed.
The BOE approved an architectural agreement in the amount of $89,850 for phase 2 of an HVAC project at Cold Springs School.
The contract was approved with Regan Young England Butera Architects. Scope of services consist of a field survey, design/documentation, bidding, and construction administration for replacement of 10 classroom vertical fan coil units, associated ductwork modification/replacement, and new controls.
The BOE approved a contract for the 2015-16 school year in the amount of $7,500 for School Messenger to be funded through NCLB Title I.
A contract was approved with Camden County Educational Services Commission for two IDEA teachers, three days a week in the amount of $95,400.
In other matters, the revised lice policy was discussed again.
During last month’s meeting, the BOE approved first reading of the revised policy.
However, board members, Stephanie Cohan and Jackie Borger, had an additional concern about incorporating specific language into the policy, primarily that if a child has live head lice then the child cannot be returned to his or her classroom until cleared by the nurse. This revision was submitted to the board solicitor for further review.
The superintendent advised the BOE that the district’s SRO (school resource officer) had been sent out to Nicholson Road for concerns about the bus stop at that location.
However, Jackie Borger stated: “It is a danger” and said that she had spoken with the police who assured her there would be monitoring at that location. The SRO recommended to keep the bus stop on Nicholson Road where it is.
When the matter was brought to a vote to accept the SRO’s recommendation, the motion passed. However, Borger voted no as did Bruce Marks.
During the public portion, a paraprofessional was asked to relay concerns to the BOE concerning two Source 4 Teachers employees, who were unable to attend the meeting. Source 4 Teachers is the provider of substitute staffing services for the district. The issues that were relayed to the BOE concerned communication and alleged pay problems.
It was stated that “There is very little communication on their [Source 4 Teachers] part. Trying to talk to someone there is like pulling teeth. Call times take forever and sometimes, it takes days before you get a response.”
Also, the BOE was told of “going blindly into a job” and how one substitute was “sent to the wrong school two out of three jobs.” There was an additional complaint of late pay.
Board member Stephanie Cohan asked if there were options for substitute staffing and stated: “Maybe we should explore them.”
Rafferty responded by stating: “As we go along, we will see what the Source 4 Teachers issues are.”
The BOE will meet next on Thursday, December 3 for a caucus session and Tuesday, December 8 for its regular meeting. Both will take place at 7:00 pm in the GHS Media Center.