The Gloucester City Board of Education (BOE) voted on December 8 to approve a Memorandum of Agreement granting the police and fire departments access to the district’s security cameras in emergency situations.
School Superintendent Joe Rafferty called it a necessity.
“Allowing the police chief and the fire chief the ability to observe live and recorded video from the school district during times of emergency is necessary to protect the students and staff of the Gloucester City School District,” he said.
Rafferty added that the Gloucester City Police and Fire Departments would be able to relay information to first responders in the event of an emergency situation.
Board member, Jackie Borger, asked how this is different than putting videos in the classroom.
Rafferty said: “They (the police and fire departments) are not going to use this information in any way, shape, or form other than for assisting them in an emergency.”
He said that there are regulations that govern how the police and fire departments can use the information. “They are not going to be sitting down at the police station monitoring the screen. That is not the intent,” Rafferty said.
Board member Bill Johnson added that there are no additional cameras. The district is just granting access to what is already there. He said: “If there is an intruder, dispatch would be able to tap into the camera and give instructions as to where he can be hiding.”
When the matter was brought to a vote, the motion carried, but Jackie Borger voted no.
During the business portion of the meeting, the BOE did not pass a motion that would have allowed a homeschooled student to participate in athletics for the 2015-16 school year.
All other business brought before the BOE was approved.
The BOE approved the 2014-19 five year preschool program plan annual update, including the 2016-17 preschool education aid budget for submission to the Department of Education.
The BOE voted to accept the Perkins Grant for a marketing education program in the amount of $15,467 for the period of July 1, 2015-June 30, 2016.
The NSLP Equipment Assistance Grant was also approved in the amount of $16,988 for the period of November, 2015-June 1, 2015. The purpose of this grant is to improve the quality of school meals.
In other matters, Board President Ed Hubbs, acknowledged outgoing board member, Linda Bittman, and thanked her for her service.
Board member, Bruce Marks, who was also not re-elected, was not in attendance at the meeting.
Varsity cheerleaders, Jen Bangle and Alexis Barton, spoke on behalf of their squad about a change that had been made for the basketball season. The cheerleaders were told by their coach that second and fourth quarters of basketball games will be taken away and given to the dance team.
Bangle said that while the cheerleaders are happy the dance team is building their program, they feel that by allowing this change, it is interfering with their program. Barton said that dance and cheer are two different sports and if the squads alternate between the quarters, it would appear as if they were competing against each other.
The superintendent suggested that the cheerleaders arrange a meeting with Principal Sean Gorman to address the issues and to facilitate a resolution.
Chris Gurcik and Theresa Ritchie addressed the BOE on behalf the Lions Music Boosters about the future of the program. Because band director Glenn Motson is set to retire, Gurcik said: “The kids think they are losing their program.”
The superintendent responded: “We intend not to lose any part of our program.” He explained that someone will be hired for both the band position and the music position
“We are trying to make sure that the program stays in its entirety,” Rafferty said.
The BOE will meet on January 7 for its caucus and reorganization meeting. The regular meeting will be held on January 12. The meetings will take place at 7 p.m. in the GHS Media Center.