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Gloucester Resident Questions School Board About Funding For Turf


Gloucester resident, Shaun Gismonde, addressed the city’s School Board on Tuesday night to ask about several issues. Gismonde started by asking how the the turf at the new middle school was funded and he also sought clarification about the roles of the district’s coaches.

Gismonde asked: “Where did the funding come for the turf for the middle school? Was it a loan?”

Photos by SJO. Photos of the progress of the city’s new middle school.

As part of his response, school superintendent, Joe Rafferty, said that the SDA [School Development Authority] were the ones to determine that. He continued: “It’s because of the extensive and elaborate drainage system that is underneath that. It is all full of large conduit. Where Fifth Street and Jersey Avenue come together, there has always been a problem with the way that drainage happened there. When they did the analysis for that to make the determination, they knew that they had to put, almost like a basin, underneath the field to take away the water that would come off of that project. That all came from the SDA, not a loan.”


Gismonde also asked about future plans for the field and if other schools will be able to use it.

Rafferty responded: “The purpose of all of our fields in Gloucester City has always been in the sense when the appropriate school is not using them, then that would be open to whoever would want to use that for whatever purpose.”

Rafferty continued by saying that officially, the district does not own the field yet. “That comes to us sometime in October or November when they will give us that property, but then we probably won’t be in to that property until possibly, January. We are looking at next summer as the time when that most likely will be utilized.”

Regarding the process that allows others to use the fields, Rafferty said, “It would be the same process that we do now. People submit [a request] to [facilities director] John Kenney to be able to use that. They have to have an insurance certificate and all of the things that go along with that. We’ve done this with all of our gyms.”


Gismonde then asked about Federal funding and the roles of the district’s teacher coaches, if they have direct contact with students or are they are strictly just for the teachers.

The district’s Director of Curriculum and Instruction, Dr. Elizabeth Curry, responded by saying that depending on their job, each coach either tutors individual students or works in a classroom teaching a class along with a teacher. This past year, they taught five days a week, she said.

Dr. Curry explained that the coaches’ salaries are in accordance with the salary guide and that they have equal scheduling. “They are under closer scrutiny than any other teacher in the district. They are with students for the entire day and have to account for their time and must name the student and name the teacher.”

At that point, the district’s solicitor, Cameron Morgan interrupted the discussion to say to Mr. Gismonde: “It sounds like you have a lot of questions. It might be best to speak with the administrators after the meeting.”

Board president, Ed Hubbs, added that there is a five minute rule for speaking during the public portion.

To which, Mr. Gismonde responded: “If you are elected, why don’t you let me say my peace” and then he asked about cutting costs, the district’s demographics, and how that translates into district’s graduation rate.

Gismonde said: “We have alot of money funneling into this. We pay a lot of money in taxes. Why isn’t our graduation rate over 86%?”

Board member John Driscoll stated: “Anyone here as an elected official wants to make a change.” Driscoll then asked Mr. Gismonde if he was aware of studies about income levels and pointed out graduation rates in other towns.

Gismonde said he had a concern about the district’s fields not being maintained.

Mr. Rafferty responded: “That is the worst statement. Our fields and the manpower and the people that do that are exemplary. Talk to any AD [athletic director] in the Tri-County Conference in any sport about what great facilities we have. I totally disagree with the state of the fields.”

Rafferty then stated that Mr. Gismonde was welcome to walk the facilities at any time with the facilities director and the athletic director.

At that point, Mr. Gismonde was thanked for addressing the Board and he responded: “I feel like I went unheard.”

In other matters, Board Member, Jackie Borger spoke about personnel and said that the district had 16 retirees, two non-renewals, and numerous slide moves.

Board member, Stephanie Cohan, said the district was looking to approve 35 policies, with the majority of them being code updates or basic language changes that were required going into the new school year.

Cohan added: “We decided to table one policy, which was student-teacher interns. We are working with our legal counsel to draft language so those interns or student teachers will need to have a background check.”

Regarding finance on the Secretary’s report, anticipated revenue has changed for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2016 for an increased $533,575 in extraordinary aid 2016.

The Board Approves Agenda Items

All Business on the meeting agenda was approved, including:

August 9, 2016 Meeting Agenda

  • Bill Payment in the total amount of $2,986,574.53
  • Appointing Ryan Burke as Assistant Band Director at the contracted rate.
  • A change at Cold Springs School that instead of four marking periods, there will be three trimesters.
  • A measure that would allow police to conduct an undercover school operation.
  • A donation in the amount of $8,000 from the Cold Springs School PTO
  • The 2016-17 Memorandum of Agreement with Law Enforcement.

The following contracts were approved:

  • CDW for the lease of 150 Chromebooks in the amount of $13,729.31 for the 2016-17 school year. Jackie Borger said that these Chromebooks are for AP students in grades 9-12.
  • Engaged Instruction for professional development in the amount of $31,200 for the 2016-17 school year and funded through NCLB 2017 funds.
  • Standards Solutions for professional development in the amount of $22,000 for the 2016-17 school year funded through NCLB 2017 funds.
  • Penn Literacy Network (PLN) for professional development in the amount of $41,160 for the 2016-17 school year funded through NCLB 2017 funds.
  • Penn Literacy Network (PLN) for professional development for Gloucester Catholic in the amount of $1,760 for the 2016-17 school year funded through NCLB 2017 Title 1 funds non-public budget.
  • Learning Driven Computing, LLC for professional development for Google Apps in the amount of $1,300 for the 2016-17 school year funded through NCLB 2017 funds.
  • Discovery Education Streaming Plus for Gloucester Catholic High School in the amount of $3,150 for the 2016-17 school year funded through NCLB Title 1 Funds, non-public budget funding.
  • P&N Grant Consultants, LLC – NCLB Grant Management Services for the 2016-17 school year at a rate of $58 per hour, not to exceed $44,812, funded through NCLB 2017 funds.
  • P&N Grant Consultants, LLC – NCLB Grant Management Services for the 2016-17 for $58 per hour, not to exceed $674, funded through Perkins Grant 2017 funds.

Board secretary, Peg McDonnell, clarified that P&N Grant Consultants are paid by NCLB and the Perkins Grant. She said that in April, the district went out for proposals for various professional services and that P&N Grant Consultants, LLC was among them. “Based on the Federal grants, there is a certain amount allowed for administration,” McDonnell said.

The Board of Education voted to approve the Janitorial Supplies and Equipment bid for the 2016-17 school year.

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Screenshots are from the August 9 meeting agenda.

Non-public entitlements from the State of New Jersey 2016-17 for Gloucester Catholic were approved.

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Additionally, the athletic supplies and equipment bid for the 2016-17 school year was approved.

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Regarding grants, the Board voted to accept the following items:

  • Sketch-Up Pro 3D Modeling Software Licensing Grant from the New Jersey Department of Education for 710 licenses at $695 per license at a total cost of $493,450. The grant includes teacher training, materials, and resources. The software will be used in each building to support STEM, STEM and Engineering programs in grades K-12. The grant period is for one school year and is renewed annually for three years.
  • The 2016-17 Perkins Grant in the amount of $13,489 for the period of July 1, 2016-June 30, 2017 for the Marketing Education Program.

The Board of Education will meet next for its caucus session on Thursday, September 8. The regular meeting will take place on Tuesday, September 13. Both meetings will take place at 7:00 p.m. in the GHS Media Center.