Gloucester News Recent News

Glou City Resident Questions School Board About Zero Tolerance Policy


Gloucester City resident, Steve Cowgill, spoke during the public portion of Tuesday’s Board of Education (BOE) meeting to ask about an alleged incident that recently occurred on Gloucester High property and involved Gloucester Catholic

Cowgill asked about the zero tolerance policy, saying he received a zero tolerance letter “within 5 days” for an incident that took place in Palmyra.

He questioned the district’s responsibility for the alleged, separate Gloucester Catholic incident that occurred “31 days ago.” Cowgill asked: “How is Gloucester High not partly responsible for zero tolerancing this guy?

(See related article from CNB News.)

Board President Ed Hubbs stated, “It is a police matter as far as we are concerned and we are addressing Gloucester Catholic.”

School Superintendent, Joe Rafferty said: “It was reported to the police chief. We cannot make a comment because it is a police matter at this time. “Right now, the chief of police [is] working on that and he will get back to me. As the superintendent of schools, I have to advise that this is legal action [and] that we, as a district, cannot comment at this time.”

Board Solicitor, Cameron Morgan, added: “It is being taken under advisement by the Board and the Board is going to determine what to do.”

During the meeting, Board member, Jackie Borger stated: “I think we need to write a letter to them [Gloucester Catholic], stating that they are responsible for actions on our property.”

The Board made a motion “to send a strongly worded letter to Gloucester Catholic” and the motion passed.

Gloucester City Middle School to Open September, 2017

In other matters, the Board approved a motion to amend the 2016-17 school calendar and also pushing back the move in date for the new middle school until September, 2017.

Superintendent Rafferty stated: “There are several factors – construction issues and financial issues. Fifth Street will have to be repaved. There are a lot of different contributing factors. Our concern is that we could not do that in such a small window of transitioning everybody and making it work, especially with so many different variables.”

Rafferty also said that he went to the Board, who agreed to pass the Resolution.

“We also talked to the State and also to the County and they are in agreement with us. We passed a Resolution to kind of take a step back how we are going to do this to make it right. There is no reason to hurry something up if we know that there are variables.”

Rafferty provided further clarification: “Right now, they have to replace every window in the middle school because of a manufacturing problem. There are issues with making the building tight, sound wise, [and] the police and fire radios don’t work out. There has to be a fix there. There are factors that we didn’t know, like [the issues] with Fifth Street, not only the surface but the infrastructure. There are too many variables. The Board is in agreement. A smoother transition would be in September [2017].”

Photo by SJO. The Gloucester City Board of Education passed a Resolution delaying the opening of the new middle school until September, 2017.

The Resolution outlined the various issues and include, but are not limited to: total window replacement as there are many benefits of window replacement within such an establishment, police and fire emergency communication blackout issues inside the school, loading dock construction defects, substitution approval issues.

Resolution on New Middle School Opening

Also, 5th Street will not be operational in time for a January, 2017 opening because of underground utility repairs and paving issues and because 5th Street is necessary for deliveries to be made the school and for traffic related to the safe drop off/pick up of students.

The district does not have enough time to establish and test health and safety drills/procedures, prepare constituents for new traffic patterns, set up and test cafeteria equipment.

The district also did not anticipate and/or plan for the cost impact of owning the new school from October, 2016 through April, 2017 in its school year budget. Additionally, early transfer will have a negative financial impact and be extremely detrimental to the district.

A member of the public spoke and asked about the district taking ownership of the school and also about the school’s name.

Rafferty said, “Right now, I am taking it under advisement from our attorney, [who] is working with us to formulate our plan. There are recurring costs that we are concerned with about taking it over, still having some contractors there and also the insurance, air-conditioning, and those kinds of things. If you look closely on the [Resolution], it lists several items that we are working towards and we don’t want to put ourselves in a detrimental economic situation.”

As for the school name, Rafferty said that for right now, the building is going to be the Gloucester City Middle School.

He also stated that at the Board’s pleasure, there will be different parts inside the building that may be named after people. “There are so many local people that it could be named after. We felt that by having different sections of the building named after people, that would be better, but it will be called the ‘Gloucester City Middle School.’”

Board Approves Agenda Items

In other matters, the BOE approved all business on its agenda.

October 11, 2016 Agenda

Among the approvals were:

  • The forms and terms of the Last Chance Agreement executed by an employee.
  • A contract with Positive Educational Solutions, LLC for professional services for the 2016-17 school year at a rate of $180 an hour, not to exceed $15,000.
  • Bill list in the grand total amount of $3,245,304.76.

The BOE will meet again on Thursday, November 3 for its caucus meeting and on Thursday, November 8 for its regular meeting. All meetings will be held in the Gloucester High Media Center.


Bellmawr Gloucester Mt. Ephraim News Recent News

3rd Annual Ryan Coyle Memorial Softball Tournament Raises $7,000 for Scholarship Fund

A jokester who was always laughing.

That’s how Kyle Wright describes his childhood friend, Ryan Coyle.

Growing up in Bellmawr, the pair played baseball and basketball together at Bell Oaks and remained tight during their days at Gloucester Catholic. As Rams, Wright played football while Coyle, a left handed pitcher, stuck with baseball.

After graduating in 2010, Coyle enrolled in Camden County College and played ball for the Cougars.

A little over two years after graduating from high school, Coyle’s life was tragically cut short when he passed away on August 31, 2012 as a result of injuries he sustained from being punched at a concert.

As a way of keeping his friend’s memory alive, Wright wanted to “start something.”  So he had t-shirts made up and sold them in Coyle’s honor. The proceeds from the t-shirts were used to raise scholarship money for baseball players from Bell Oaks and Gloucester Catholic.

Because the t-shirts were such a big hit, Wright stepped it up and came up with the idea of hosting an annual softball tournament at the Bellmawr Recreation Center.

The first Ryan Coyle Memorial Softball Tournament was held in 2014. The tournament provided a way of raising even more money for the scholarship fund and also brought people together to celebrate Ryan’s life.

All photos by SJO. The Babe Ruth field at the Bellmawr Recreation Center was re-named and dedicated in memory of Ryan Coyle.

Prior to the start of the 2014 tournament, the Babe Ruth field was dedicated and renamed the “Ryan W. Coyle Memorial Field” as a further tribute to Ryan and his passion for the sport and also for the many games he played there.

This year’s tournament took place on August 6. Since the first games were played in 2014, the tournament has grown larger and has garnered more support. The first year of the tournament, there were 11 teams registered to play. This year, there were 20 teams and games were played at two locations – at the Bellmawr Recreation Center and on the Anderson Avenue field.

Kyle Wright prior to the start of the games. Wright thanked his mother, Fran and sister, Kaitlyn, and the many other volunteers who helped him put the tournament together.

Wright said: “[This year] was the best by far. Everything went very smoothly and we had a great time remembering Ryan. My team ended up winning the noncompetitive bracket.”

Before the start of this year’s games, Ryan’s parents, Ginny and Dennis Coyle, joined their son-in-law, Mike Ryan, in a moment of prayer.

Ginny and Dennis Coyle stand with their son-in-law, Mike Ryan, during a moment of prayer.

Bellmawr’s own, AJ Gonzales, was an honored guest who was invited to throw out the first pitch. Wright introduced AJ as Bellmawr’s next “rising baseball star.”

After throwing out the first pitch, “rising baseball star” AJ Gonzales takes some photographs with Kyle Wright.

Rhian Schofield sang that National Anthem.

Rhian Schofield as she sings the National Anthem.

Saturday’s tournament raised about $7,000. Gloucester Catholic’s Eric Grafton is one of this year’s recipients and additional scholarships are expected to be awarded to seven students from Bell Oaks.

Wright was humbled by the level of support shown for the tournament and expressed his thanks: “This day is very special to me and my friends, as well as Ryan’s family. The past two years when I get up here and talk about Ryan, I usually get emotional but I know Ryan wouldn’t want us all standing around crying. He’d much rather us be drinking beer and having fun. So, let’s celebrate Ryan’s life today and keep his memory alive.”

In addition to food and other donations, lawn signs were added this year as another way of showing support for the tournament.

To see more photos from the day, click below:

Posted by South Jersey Observer on Saturday, August 6, 2016

Bellmawr Gloucester News

9th Annual Ross-Kupcha Memorial Run a Success

On October 25, the 9th Annual Ross-Kupcha Memorial Run took place in National Park, N.J. The run is held in memory of Browning Ross, a two-time Olympian and Gloucester Catholic track and cross country coach, and also Bob Kupcha, an orthopedic surgeon and war veteran.

This year, the memorial run raised money for the Camilla Hall Retirement Home for IHM sisters and also the Bob Kupcha Scholarship Fund at GCHS.

Race director and current Gloucester Catholic cross country coach, Jack Heath, said, “I think it was our best race yet. Perfect weather and a visit from our Bishop to give all of the runners and walkers a pre- race blessing topped it off. It was great to see the IHM sisters there. They appreciated all of the efforts of the runners, walkers, and sponsors on their behalf.”

A bag piper from the Giordano Detachment of the Marine Corps and the Bonsal Blues Band also played at the race.

Heath commented about a course mistake that he discovered shortly after the race began. Instead of the 5K run being 3.10 miles, it turned out that the course was slightly longer than that, at 3.2 miles.

Heath said he realized it when he saw the leader runner go slightly off course right after the start and knew the race might be a “little long.”

Heath said: “It was fitting to have a race that is named after Browning Ross and not be exactly 3.10 miles. Ross rarely had races exactly the named distances. He usually measured courses with his car and frequently changed the course on his races just to keep it interesting. He would have liked this year’s race to see all of the high school runners and because of the course change.”

The top finishers in the race were Rams cross country’s Travis Finley, who finished with a time of 23:08.19. He was followed by second place finisher and teammate, Sean Ward. Gloucester Catholic coach girls’ soccer coach, Kate Ormsby, placed third overall.

Visit Coach Heath’s blog by clicking here.