The Gloucester City School District received one recommendation from its audit for fiscal year ending June 30, 2016. The recommendation pertained to documentation for resident student transportation. The audit revealed no other recommendations.
On page 7 of the Auditor’s Management Report on Administrative Findings, it indicates that 9 out of 102 transported students who were sampled from the District Report of Transported Resident Students (DRTRS) could not be supported by district records. In the Audit Recommendations Summary on page 4, it states that transported students on the DRTRS must be supported by district records.
At its December 13, 2016 meeting, the Gloucester City Board of Education (BOE) approved the Corrective Action Plan, which states: “Students reported as transported on the District Report of Transported Students (DRTRS) will be reconciled to District records and audited prior to final submission.” The completion date for implementation was listed as November 18, 2016, as per the Secretary’s Report from the meeting.
On Wednesday, November 2 at 7:00 p.m in the Gloucester High auditorium, there will be a question and answer session with several of the candidates who are running for a spot on the Gloucester City Board of Education.
The Gloucester City High School PTO and the Gloucester City Education Association are presenting this event and refreshments will be served.
This is a chance for the community and parents to meet the individuals who directly impact the students and their education.
According to the sample ballot on the Camden County Clerk’s website, the six candidates who are seeking a three-year term on the Gloucester City Board of Education are: Shawn Spotts, Edward Hubbs, Leon D. Harris, Jr., Robert “Bob” Bennett, Sr., Derek Timm, and W. Bruce Marks, Sr.
On Election Day, Tuesday, November 8, voters will select three of the six candidates.
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?
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 .”
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.
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.
Gloucester City School Superintendent, Joe Rafferty, is giving $12,600 of his $15,000 merit bonus back to the district. He made the announcement at Tuesday’s Board of Education (BOE) meeting and asked that the money go toward the opening of the new middle school.
In accordance with the terms of his contract, Rafferty said he had the opportunity to obtain $15,000 worth of merit pay, but with the opening of the middle school and many other things, he told the BOE that he would like to give back $12,600 because “I feel that it is so important.”
Rafferty explained that he discussed this matter with his wife, Barbara. “It is something that we feel should be done from our side of the family to the family that I serve here.” The announcement was met with applause.
In other matters, Rafferty thanked the Gloucester City Fire Department, the Gloucester City Police Department and the Camden County Sheriff’s Department for demonstrating to district staff what would happen if a serious event took place at school. “It really empowered our staff to see how that was done. It was an eye-opening event and it was greatly appreciated,” he said.
The Director of the Early Childhood Center, Norrell Gurcsik, gave a presentation regarding the self-assessment for determining HIB (Harassment, Intimidation and Bullying) grades.
Gurcsik said that each school year, the school safety team at each building has to complete a self-assessment that is submitted to the State of New Jersey. She gave the results of the district’s self-assessment for the end of last year.
Gurcsik, said: “For Cold Springs School, we scored a 69 out of a possible 75. For Mary Ethel Costello, we scored a 68 out of a possible 70 and for the Gloucester City Junior-Senior High School, we scored a 67 out of a 78.”
Board member, Jackie Borger, asked for clarification.
Gurcsik responded: “For each category, we rate ourselves as far as training HIB personnel and procedures, so we total up those scores and look at those areas and try to improve for the following year.”
Amy Francis, the Director of Special Services, added: “Based on those scores, we are in good shape, but as far as those scores and the State, it does not specify a descriptor at this time. What happens is these scores have to be posted on the State website.”
Superintendent Rafferty offered clarification: “For example, if I send a team for HIB training, they will fill out that assessment, get a higher score, and that would be an area where we have training.”
GCSD To Undergo Civil Rights Review
The Director of Curriculum and Instruction, Dr. Elizabeth Curry, was asked to explain the civil rights review that the district will undergo in October.
Dr. Curry said that the district was selected by the Federal Government and the State for a civil rights review. “They will be here for two days in October to make sure we are an equal access employer and to make sure we have equal access for male and female. Do we have an equal amount of sports teams? They will look at our hiring practices and our counseling.”
Agenda Items Approved
On the business side, the Board approved various items on their meeting agenda.
A change order in the amount of $589 to Gaudelli Brothers, Inc. for the Cold Springs School fan coil project per bid dated April 29, 2016 and Board approved on June 9, 2016. The change order was requested to secure block walls to meet fire code. The revised contract in the total amount of $474,789.
Non-public technology purchases for the 2016-17 school year for Gloucester Catholic for textbook purchases from Houghlin Mifflin in the amount of $3,629.81 and for 13 Dell work stations and a USB charging station in the amount of $11,177.83.
A contract with Kennedy Health Systems for the 2016-17 school year for drug testing.
Additional contract approvals for the 2016-17 school year:
PSE&G to install four light poles for the new middle school in the amount of $7,873.75. Jackie Border clarified by saying these are light poles for Market Street.
Dell Compellent SAN (Storage Area Network) under the SCA State Contract in the amount of $212,277.42 to replace the end-of-life Dell Compellent SAN unit that serves as the virtual server and switch main hub for the district.
School Messenger (West Interactive Services Corporation) in the amount of $3,000 for the period of October 1, 2016-October 31, 2017 and funded by NCLB (No Child Left Behind).
IXL site license renewal contract in the amount of $23,340 for the period of September 5, 2016-September 5, 2019 and funded by NCLB.
Finally, as for the status of the teachers’ contract, Mediation is scheduled for November 21. As for the progress of the new middle school, Facilities Director, John Kenney, provided an outline in the meeting agenda that details all of the ongoing work.
At its special meeting on Tuesday night, the Gloucester City Board of Education (BOE) interviewed candidates for the vacancy left by Patrick Hagan, who resigned in May due to conflicts with college and work.
The candidates who were listed on the BOE’s agenda to be interviewed for the vacancy were: Leon Harris, Michael Hopkins, Bruce Marks, Shawn Spotts, Derek Timms, and Joseph Schili.
The Board also voted to approve two items on its agenda:
The board voted to increase the maximum dollar amount for legal services for the 2015-16 school year to $150,000. Board member John Driscoll asked what the amount was for last year and he was told $90,000. School superintendent, Joe Rafferty, stated the reason for the recommended increase was because of “issues that we’ve had with some of the teachers and things that are associated with that.”
The board also voted to approve a Resolution that effectively supports a grant application by the City of Gloucester for the Fiscal Year 2016 NJDOT Safe Routes to School Program.
Rafferty also thanked secretary, Gail Sacchetti, for her years of service and dedication to the district. Sacchetti is retiring and will be replaced by Pat Blaylock.
The BOE will meet next on Tuesday, July 12 at 7:00 p.m. for a combined caucus and regular meeting.