Gloucester News Recent News

Gloucester City BOE Adopts $47.6M Budget for 2016-17

On May 5, Gloucester City School District Business Administrator/Board Secretary, Peg McDonnell, presented the district’s 2016-17 budget in the amount of $47,627,539 and the Gloucester City Board of Education (BOE) voted to approve and adopt it.

2016-17 Budget

As for any cuts, McDonnell said: “The budget projects no staffing cuts other than some retirement vacancies not being filled in order to offset the rising salary costs. All existing programs have been preserved in this budget. This budget includes a number of facilities renovations projects, which are supported by the use of capital reserve funds.”

The budget called for a tax levy cap adjustment in the amount of $395,820 for health care cost adjustment.

Additionally, the banked cap will be used to fund increased health benefit and salary costs:

Bank cap from 2013-14 of $193,789 expiring in 2016-17.

Bank cap from 2014-15 of $276,450 expiring in 2017-18.

Speaking of rising costs, McDonnell said: “As usual, the district faces rising costs primarily related to contractual salary increases, health benefit increases, the state employee health benefits plan, and special education tuition increases. In addition, the district is also anticipating the opening of the new middle school, which will require start up and ongoing costs to maintain. The district relies heavily on State Aid to support its budget. About 85% of our operating budget comes from State Aid. Yet over the past 10-15 years, State Aid has remained essentially flat.”

She said for the 2017 budget, the State Aid was $33,700 and amounts to about $18 per student.

Screenshot (420)
Screenshots are from the advertised budget.

As for salaries, McDonnell said: “The salaries are budgeted at negotiated rates with GCEA in the 2017 budget and at estimated rates for the teachers and custodians whose contracts have not been settled for next year.”

Other highlights of McDonnell’s budget 2016-17 budget presentation included:

As for debt service, the district owes $1.1 million in principal and interest during the 2017 school year. Some of the district’s debt was refinanced during the 2015 school year. The refinancing resulted in lower interest rates and payments for all the periods going forward, thus reducing costs.

The general current expenses are about $14,216,315 and this includes many of the central costs such as Special Education and other tuition, transportation, operations and facilities maintenance, child study team costs, and central administration.

Capital expenditures include appropriations for major facilities renovations projects and equipment. It also supports resident students attending charter schools. That is $253,460.

For the facilities budget, the facilities director requested about $1 million to support major facility projects in the 2017 budget. This is about the same amount as in current year. Over the past several years, the district has established and deposited funds in the capital reserve, which has been tapped for certain long range facility projects. Those are non-emergent projects, which are not funded by the SDA.

The district projects included in the 2017 budget include costs associated with the new middle school that will not be covered by the SDA as well as HVAC upgrades, ground and building repairs, and renovations. The new middle school project now in construction phase is opening is anticipated in Spring, 2017.

In the general fund appropriations: salaries are down about 3%, but benefits up about 6%.

The district benefits from well over $5 million in additional aid to the district through the special revenue fund. This includes $3.7 million in State funding for our pre-school education program, over $300,000 in State aid to non-public students, which is Gloucester Catholic.

The budget for Federal Aid, includes No Child Left Behind, which is Title I and Title II is about $765,000. IDEA funding for Special Education students is budgeted at about $537,000.

Screenshot (421)The budget was compiled with spending that totals $47.5 million. This spending is supported by the number of funding sources, including State Aid, Federal Aid, local tax payers, Brooklawn tuition, and fund balance.

Tuition from the local Brooklawn school district is up $28,000 due to a slight increase in projected enrollment from Brooklawn Schools.

As for the tax impact, for a home assessed $180,000, the estimate shows an annual change of $31.97 per year, which equates to about $2.66 per month.

During the budget meeting, colleagues of school nurse, Linda Stewart, along with several members of the public spoke on Stewart’s behalf to ask for consideration that her job not be cut.

One teacher asked for clarification by reiterating that the 2016-17 budget did not call for staffing cuts and asked: “Is it correct that there was no reduction in force (RIF) except through attrition for 2016-17?”

School superintendent, Joe Rafferty, responded: “There are issues with positions that were retained out of the RIF from last year that should have been done, but were not done. The current budget is not where the RIF came from.”

An email was sent to Peg McDonnell on May 11 asking if a vote had been taken to either retain or eliminate Stewart’s position.

McDonnell responded: “Linda Stewart is included is included in the 2017 Personnel Listing on the May 10, 2016 agenda which was approved at last night’s BOE meeting.”

Public Agenda, May 2016

Gloucester News Recent News

GHS Students Awarded College Scholarships

GLOUCESTER CITY, N.J. – Four 9th graders from Gloucester City Junior-Senior High School have been awarded full scholarships to Rowan University, Montclair State University, The College of New Jersey, or Saint Peter’s University by the Give Something Back Foundation (GSBF). The announcement was made to the students on April 15 by GSBF, a nonprofit organization that provides mentors and scholarships to help Pell Grant-eligible kids go to college and graduate in four years debt free.

The recipients of the Give Something Back Foundation scholarship from Gloucester City High School were: Anieli Colon, Emily Petrik, Brook Byrnes, and Umaya Islam.

At the May 10 Gloucester City Board of Education (BOE) meeting, GHS Anieli Colon, Umaya Islam, Brook Byrnes, and Emily Petrik were congratulated by Gloucester City Junior-Senior High School Principal, Sean Gorman, and the BOE for being awarded college scholarships from the Give Something Back Foundation.

Each Gloucester City High School student completed the GSBF application process, which included attending a family information meeting, completing a College Cost Estimator as well as an extensive online application, obtaining school and community recommendations, and participating in in-person interviews in order to be eligible for the scholarship.

During the May 10 monthly Board of Education (BOE) meeting, GHS Principal Sean Gorman congratulated the students and spoke of the application process that they went through. He said: “As long as they see through the things that they need to in high school, they can go to Rowan, the College of New Jersey, Montclair State, or St. Peter’s University at zero cost to them and their families. This totals nearly a half-million dollars that was given to these four students.”

Gorman continued: “I worked in the Guidance office for many years and have worked with families that are always wrestling with that worry of getting into college and then having to pay for it. For these students and their families to have that payment part already taken care of, is just astounding and an amazing accomplishment on behalf of the students. I can say with full confidence that the scholarship committee couldn’t have chosen four better students. This is certainly impressive what these four have done.”

GSBF was established through the generosity of Bob Carr, founder of Princeton, NJ-based Heartland Payment Systems. Carr received a $250 scholarship grant from the Lockport Woman’s Club in Illinois in 1963 when he was accepted as a student at the University of Illinois, and he vowed someday he would “give back” when he was able. His foundation partners with high schools and colleges in Illinois, New Jersey, Delaware and Pennsylvania. The program has provided scholarships and mentoring for hundreds of students.

The Gloucester City High School 9th graders are among GSBF’s inaugural class in New Jersey.

Students must maintain a B average throughout high school, participate in a mentoring program, and attend GSBF-sponsored workshops to continue in the program. As seniors, students must complete the FAFSA and be accepted into GSBF’s partner colleges. The GSBF is very excited to provide this opportunity and is working to expand its college partnerships and opportunities for students.

GSBF is currently recruiting volunteer mentors for its 9th graders at Gloucester City High School.

If interested, visit

For more information about GSBF visit or email

About Give Something Back Foundation

GSBF works with high school administrators and community leaders to select ninth graders who show academic promise and whose family income level qualifies them to receive a Federal Pell Grant.

The goal of GSBF is to help students who may not have considered college an achievable option to get the guidance they need to complete a college degree in four years, debt free.

GSBF pairs selected students with trained adult mentors who support the students through the challenges of high school years at home and in the classroom, thus preparing them for the rigors of a four-year college education. Mentors help students navigate the process of college admissions and GSBF provides its high school graduates with a scholarship for tuition, room and board at one of its partner universities and colleges.

Visit GSBF at: Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.


Bellmawr Gloucester Mt. Ephraim News Recent News

Bellmawr Waterfront Development Update

Prior to the council meeting tonight, there was a meeting in the Borough Hall courtroom about the Bellmawr Waterfront Development.

When Mayor Frank Filipek opened the regular meeting, he said: “It is 95-98% complete. The only thing we are waiting for is the traffic study from the DOT and then it can finally be redeveloped.”

SJO obtained a copy of the updated pictures and maps.

Click below to see the documents:

Bellmawr Waterfront Development BDA & Steering Committee April 28, 2016

*Article updated to indicate that SJO was not aware there was a meeting concerning the Bellmawr Waterfront Development and was not in attendance for that meeting.

Gloucester News Recent News

Gloucester City BOE Votes To Affirm HIBs


Following an Executive Session at its April 12 meeting, the Gloucester City Board of Education (BOE) voted to affirm the Harassment, Intimidation and Bullying (HIBs) as reported.

The BOE also voted to approve the sidebar agreement with the GCEA (Gloucester City Education Association) regarding sick leave subject to approval of the GCEA under the committee. School superintendent Rafferty stated: “Just to clarify, the name will not be mentioned, but a number will be placed there that will represent the individual.”

During the meeting under communications, the superintendent referred to a letter that was received from Board member Patrick Hagan concerning a request for a leave of absence. Rafferty said he needs to ascertain whether a Board member is allowed to take a leave of absence or has to resign.

Rafferty said he plans to meet with Hagan about the request. Hagan was not present at the meeting.

All business on the BOE’s agenda was approved.

April 2016 Regular Public Agenda

Among the approvals were:

  • Bill payment in the amount of $4,017,340.39.
  • A contract with Virtual High School for the period of July 1, 2016-June 30, 2017 in the amount of $7,500 annually.
  • The contract for Business Administrator/Board Secretary, Peg McDonnell, for the period of July 1, 2016 through June 30, 2017. McDonnell’s salary will be $150,161.00. CNB reported that McDonnell began her employment with the district in February 2007 at a salary of $98,000. Her salary in 2014-15 was $143,975 and last year she was paid $147,000.
  • Permission for five GHS students who are in the marketing class to attend the Southern Regional Consumer Bowl Competition. Those students are Steve Potts, Matt Orsino, Isaiah Cancel, Justin Ly, and Alex Holmes.

The BOE approved a school bus leasing agreement that authorizes leasing up to two school buses for district busing needs through June 30, 2016 from the following possible vendors: Gateway Regional School District, Holcomb Bus Company, and HA DeHart. The Board also approved an agreement with Gloucester Catholic High School to provide bus drivers and bus maintenance services for leased school buses.

Board Secretary, Peg McDonnell, clarified that the busing situation is for athletics.

Rafferty explained that the bus companies have the buses, but they don’t have the drivers. He said the district is looking for a way to get bus services and is working on a shared services type of agreement with Gloucester Catholic.

He said that for the past several years, Gloucester Catholic has picked up the GHS students to take them to swimming.

“They have people who can drive and we would lease a bus because our kids need to be transported. We have found that this is the cheapest way for us to try to solve this unique problem. Right now, bus companies cannot give the services that we need,” Rafferty said.

Solicitor Frank Cavallo Jr. explained there has been a change in the law about driver’s physicals. Because of those new regulations, companies are having a hard time finding drivers, he said.

Board member Stephanie Cohan asked needing to lease through June 30. Rafferty said playoffs go through the month of June.

During the meeting, the BOE also congratulated Kayla Fischer, Justin Ly, Davin Bowman, and Alexa Long for being among the GHS students honored by the Camden County Board of Freeholders.

GHS principal Sean Gorman said that each year, the Camden County Freeholders honor students from each county high school at the Scottish Rite Auditorium in Collingswood. This year’s ceremony was held on Tuesday, April 5th.

Camden County Freeholders Honorees from GHS:

Community Service Award: Peyton Weichmann
Leadership Award: Alexa Long
Most Improved Student Award: Kayla Fischer
Best Overall Student Award: Justin Ly
Most Courageous Student Award: Jessica Sherlock
Performing Arts Student Award: Davin Bowman
School Spirit Award: Justin Cowgill


Kayla Fischer
Kayla Fischer
Davin Bowman
Davin Bowman


Alexa Long
Alexa Long
Justin Ly
Justin Ly

The BOE will meet next on Thursday, May 5 for its Budget Meeting and the Regular Meeting will take place on Tuesday, May 10. Both meetings will take place at 7:00 p.m. in the GHS Media Center.

Bellmawr Gloucester Mt. Ephraim News Recent News

Bellmawr Girl Scouts Assist With Operation Yellow Ribbon

Earlier today, Bellmawr Girl Scout Troops 30215 and 30082 in collaboration with Operation Yellow Ribbon of South Jersey, Warrior Watch Riders, the West Deptford and Thorofare Fire Departments participated in a Welcome Home Celebration for Sgt. Jena Clifford and Spc. James Simmermon at the West Deptford Riverwinds Community Center.

All photos provided. Warrior Watch Riders help to welcome home Sgt. Jena Clifford and Spc. James Simmermon.

The Girl Scouts coordinated efforts with Dave Silver of Operation Yellow Ribbon to plan the Welcome Home Celebration as a surprise for Sgt. Clifford and Spc. Simmermon, who were under the impression that they had been invited to Riverwinds to speak to the Girls Scouts about their military service.

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Dave Silver (far right) of Operation Yellow Ribbon of South Jersey addresses the assembled crowd for the Welcome Home Celebration.

While Sgt. Clifford and Spc. Simmermon were addressing the Girl Scouts, a motorcade pulled in that was led by the West Deptford and Thorofare Fire Departments and included the Warrior Watch Riders and members of Operation Yellow Ribbon. Gloucester County Freeholder Giuseppe (Joe) Chila presented both Sgt. Clifford and Spc. Simmermon with Proclamations honoring them for their service.

Spc. James Simmermon (left) and Sgt. Jena Clifford (right) speak to the Girl Scouts about their military service.

Girl Scout Olivia Allen, 10, felt it was important to be a part of welcoming the soldiers home. “We were able to learn about what it is like to serve overseas. Also, it was important to thank the soldiers for protecting our country,” she said.

Sgt. Jena Clifford (left) and Spc. James Simmermon with the Girl Scout Cookies to be donated to Operation Yellow Ribbon.

The Girl Scouts presented Sgt. Clifford and Spc. Simmermon with thank you cards of appreciation and the troops donated 16 cases of Girl Scout cookies to be included in care packages that will be sent overseas for active duty servicemen and women.

Of the Welcome Home Celebration, Sgt. Clifford posted on Facebook: “Words cannot begin to express how touched I am by this event today. Thank you so much to the men and women of Operation Yellow Ribbon and Warrior Watch Riders, as well as the Fire and Police department. I am truly humbled (once again) by this experience.”

Article updated at 10:45 p.m. to include a quote from Spc. Simmermon: “I was completely shocked! I am grateful to be a part of this awesome event today and also to hear all of those great and awesome words from everyone. It is wonderful to have these organizations and the support for those organizations – for the veterans and their families to know that they will always be there through the best and toughest times of their military career and life. We appreciate everything you guys have done and will do. This will always be a memorable day!”

*Article updated on April 4, 2016 to delete police and add Thorofare Fire Department.