At its April 27 meeting, the Bellmawr School District presented its 2016-17 in the amount of $16,981,271. As for the budget impact on taxpayers, Business Administrator/Board Secretary, Amy Capriotti said that a house assessed at $168,832, will see a tax increase of $55.71.
According to the advertised budget, there are an estimated 1,097 regular full-time pupils on roll with a comparative per pupil cost of $11,332. Also on roll, there are 136 special full-time pupils, 12 private school placements, and 9 special education program pupils sent to other districts.
Click below for the district’s 2016-16 advertised budget.
Mrs. Capriotti stated that the district received state aid in the amount of $50,197 and $171,696 in pre-school education aid. She said: “We are in year two of the pre-school expansion grant. That amount is $421,728 and will allow us to continue our pre-school program for three and four year olds,” she said.
Superintendent, Annette Castiglione, said that there still remained a $600,000 gap.
To close the gap, Mrs. Capriotti, spoke of various cost saving initiatives. She said one in-class support position was reduced. The district will lease, instead of purchasing, laptops for the 1:1 laptop initiative. Various facilities and technology items will be postponed.
One English Language Learner (ELL) position went from full-time to part-time. District social worker, Regina Andrews-Collette, expressed concern over this change that because of the number of non-native speakers in the district.
One administrator position was changed to a supervisor position, which is paid for by the Preschool Expansion Grant and Preschool Education Aid, Mrs. Castiglione said.
She also added that the position is mandated by Race to the Top. Supervisor of student services, Roseanne, Yezzo, will be moved to the early childhood program and a vice principal will be hired at Bell Oaks.
Mrs. Castiglione said: “We are fully funded in early childhood education and Mrs. Yezzo will help (Bellmawr Park principal) Mrs. Calabria with observation and management of the staff. Mrs. Yezzo is also the point person for data collection and our Link-It initiative.”
Regarding cost-saving measures, Mrs. Capriotti explained that the district enters into shared services agreements.
She said the Borough of Bellmawr helps the district with vehicle maintenance, snow removal, and the purchase of gasoline. Additionally, the Bellmawr School District uses other school districts for maintenance and larger capital projects.
In other matters, Mrs. Capriotti stated that the district still does not have the final cost of the soil remediation. “Even though the building and soil are finished, there is still more compliance work. We have not been able to get a final bill from Environmental Design (EDI),” she said.
Mrs. Castiglione said that pre-school registration has concluded and that there are 25 spaces for three year olds. A lottery will be held on May 16 with 25 students being chosen and the remaining students will be placed on a waiting list.
She also addressed the drop-off and pick-up situation by saying it is not just limited to Bellmawr Park, it is district wide. She said that a meeting recently took place and that another one is scheduled with the intent of problem solving the issue.
“This is something that needs to be addressed. It didn’t just become a problem with the pre-school. The pre-school has made it more challenging. But hopefully, the meetings we have will allow us to come up with a solution,” Mrs. Castiglione said.
During the business portion of the meeting, the Board of Education (BOE) voted to approve all items on its agenda.
Among the approvals were:
- The bill list in the amount of $1,857,315.97.
- Group registration for the BOE members and administration to attend the 2016 NJSBA Workshop in Atlantic City from October 25-27 at a flat fee of $1,400.00.
- Summer hours for the district with the offices remaining open Monday-Thursday and off on Fridays. Hours of operation will be sent home and posted on the district website.
- Renewal of medical, prescription, and dental insurance from School Health Insurance Fund for the period of July 1, 2016-June 30, 2017.
- Establish tentative tuition rates for 2016-17 for pre-k and Kindergarten at $8,188, grades 1-5 at $9,878, grades 6-8 at $10,609, behavioral disabilities at $19,491, multiple disabilities (MD) at $26,055, and full-day pre-school disabled at $17,680.
- Acceptance of a new listening center with CD player, headphones, storage caddy and various books and CDs for the EM Burke School MD class from Donors Choose.
- Shared services agreement with the Newfield BOE to replace the walk-in freezer at Bell Oaks School at a cost of $57,400.
- Purchase of Go Math materials for grades K-4 at a cost of $58,269.54.
- Food service management contract with Nutri-Serve Management, Inc. at the flat fee of $31,059.00 for the 2016-17 school year, Nutri-Serve guarantees that the bottom line on the operational financial report for the school year will be at break-even or no subsidy to the bottom line of the Bellmawr School District.
- Employment of Kurt Villary to be employed as a maintenance worker for the 2016-17 school year at a salary of $47,000 effective May 1, 2016.
- Submission of the 2016-17 employment contract of Business Administrator/Board Secretary, Amy Capriotti. The terms of the contract call for a 2% salary increase for an annual salary of $113,656 for the period of July 1, 2016-June 30, 2017.
During the public portion of the meeting, Triton track and cross-country coach, Andrew Whitman, addressed the school board about the possibility of adding a cross country program at Bell Oaks as a fall sport. Mrs. Castiglione said the board would take it under advisement.
Mrs. Castiglione also recognized Mrs. Sally Kolody as staff member of the month. Of her nomination, Mrs. Castiglione said of Mrs. Kolody: “She has shown her love for music in every single thing that she does for our students and our staff. Her love for music emanates throughout everything that she does.”
Both Mrs. Kolody and Ms. Andrews-Collette are retiring from the Bellmawr School District effective July 1.
In other matters, Board member, Mike “Juice” Williams, spoke of visiting two classes on Earth Day to talk about recycling. Williams, who works for the Bellmawr Highway Department, was also joined by the department’s secretary, Kim Gallagher. Williams and Gallagher visited the first grades at Bellmawr Park and the second grades at Ethel Burke. Williams said: “This is my fifth year doing this and it is very rewarding.”
The BOE will meet again on Wednesday, May 25 at 5:00 p.m. for its workshop and at 6:00 p.m. for its regular meeting. The meetings will take place in the Bell Oaks Media Center.