Feature Stories Recent News

Unofficial 2020 General Election Results for Bellmawr Council, School Board & Other Local Races

Camden County Unofficial Results Last Updated: November 16, 2020 7:51 PM

Current status: Unofficial as of November 16, 2020 8:27 PM.

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic and the changes to how the November 3, 2020 General Election is conducted (made by P.L. 2020, c 72) the completion of the results will be delayed, according to Camden County’s website.

Click the image below to be directed to the write-in votes.

(Credit: Camden County)

The expected schedule for the release of results is:

Initial Vote by Mail Ballots
November 3, 2020, shortly after close of polls (single upload without additional updates)

ADA Voting Machines
November 3, 2020 – Approximately 11:00 pm

Subsequent Vote by Mail Ballots
Daily through November 23, 2020

Provisional (In-Person Voting) Ballots
Daily beginning on or about November 11, 2020 through November 23, 2020

Results are unofficial and not complete.

Ballots will be continued to be processed through certification.

Results will be updated regularly.

Gloucester City
Mt. Ephraim

*This post has and will continue to be updated as Election Results are counted and new information becomes available.*

Mt. Ephraim News Recent News

Mt. Ephraim School Board To Vote Monday On Proposed Budget Cuts

The Mt. Ephraim Board of Education (BOE) is scheduled to meet tomorrow, Monday, March 21 at 7:30 p.m. to vote on proposed cuts in order to balance its 2016-17 budget.

The regular BOE meeting was held on March 14, which I attended. During that meeting, School Superintendent, Leslie Koller and Finance Manager/Board Secretary, Bill Gerson, spoke about the budget. At that time, neither Mrs, Koller nor Mr. Gerson had indicated that there were any issues with the budget.

However, the BOE called a special meeting on Friday, March 18.

Several people had reached out to me asking if I was planning to attend the meeting, but I was unable to.

I spoke with Mrs. Koller by telephone on Sunday morning, March 20. She explained what had transpired between the regular board meeting and the special meeting. I also asked her to address the issue about advertising the special meeting in accordance with the Open Public Meetings Act.

This article includes:

  • Excerpts from what Mrs. Koller and Mr. Gerson said about the budget during the March 14 meeting.
  • Information provided by a source who attended the March 18 meeting, who asked that her name not be used.
  • Mrs. Koller’s explanation of what happened between Monday-Friday of last week that led up to the special meeting.

From the March 14 BOE meeting:

William Gerson:

I put a lot of time and as you are aware, I pulled the 15-16 budget apart and I’ve been doing this a long time and I couldn’t understand it. So I took the budget apart from 15-16 and put it in a format that not only I, but anyone coming into my office, would be able to understand, and they could really read it and understand it. That had to be my basis for creating the 16-17.

So, I basically took your spending plan and I worked with Leslie and we both identified programs. Every program in the school has a budget directly related.

Kindergarten has their own program. Grades 1-5 have their own program. Special Ed has a program.

Leslie could explain exactly what programs there are.

Every program that there is has a cost aligned with that program. The spreadsheets you got previously, I have done away with those. It’s more open to understand. There have been emails been going out to everybody saying that the 16-17 budget….by Friday. If there is any way possible that I can get it earlier than Friday, I will get it out to you. If you have any questions, please feel free to give me a call and ask me a question. Any questions that you ask, I will keep track of them and I will provide that to the Board. I think you will be pleased with it. I am still working on it and I think it will be a very tight budget. Everything I could put in it, appropriations side. Now, I am trying to balance the revenue side. But what I found is reviewing the 15-16 budget….all I do is put it in the state format that is required.

I think once I get the revenues together, that is basically the last piece I have. Once I figure out exactly what revenues are, without going over budget, Leslie and I will sit down. If we don’t have enough revenue to support it, we will look at what we have to cut, if we have to. At this point, I am still putting the revenue side together.

Leslie Koller:

The spreadsheets that you had before, they are always are so hard to read.  There were vendors on there that haven’t been used in five-six years. So Bill and I sat down and we figured out what doesn’t need to be here. We moved things around. Things were in the wrong places. We put them all in the right places. What Bill is going to give you instead of that spreadsheet: You know how it has the line items going across? You are going to get a sheet of paper with that line item on it with all of the items under that particular line item on one sheet of paper, which is how I learned to budget in my last district.

We had a sheet of paper for each one of the line items. So you will get in a binder as opposed to a spreadsheet. I think it is going to be a lot easier for you to understand.

William Gerson:

I put the budget together based on what your spending plan was. Now, if you go back, once I get county approval, district approval, next week for the transfer. We will put the budget line in with what it should be, what it should have been all along. Then what I am going to do is re-class everything. So my plan is that by the end of April, the chart of accounts will be lined up. Also, in conjuction with that, there is something else that the district has never had is we also have a position control roster and then we will also be tied directly into the budget.

Leslie Koller:

To illustrate what Bill just said. For example, there is this one account, I used it all the time as a principal. I use it here: 190-100 and that is like the supply account. So you are going to see in 15-16. Last year, it was like over $100,000 in this account. Now, it is about $12,000 because we took everything in there and we put it in Kindergarten. We took 1-5 and we put it in 1-5. We took 6-8 and we put it in 6-8.

So instead of everything being lumped into this one account, it now is all where it belongs. Technology is in technology. So it is not apples to apples when we see this. Next year, it will be apples to apples. But you’re looking at $100,000 in this account last year. And you’re going to look at $12,000 in this account this year and then likewise with those other accounts, you are going to look at nothing and you are going to see money in them because we put everything where it’s supposed to be.

William Gerson:

Bottom line is and this is what I feel that you are looking for…What does the program cost? What does every program cost? Up til now, nobody knew. By doing this, everyone will know exactly what it cost to run a program. Everyone will know what first through fifth grade will cost. Everyone will know what Pre-K cost.

I’ll give you a great example – the educational media center or ITC, or I call it, which is not only the library, but also technology throughout the Mt. Ephraim School District. The problem is, there is a piece here, and a piece here and no one really knew what was going on. And yet….they came, who was here tonight and Kitty Gallagher, who was not here. They were like where does this go? Where is that? Now they know. I sat down with them for about three hours and we went down line by line.

And we found out, as I was going through it with them that there was duplication that was in the budget. And they said: What’s this? I said I don’t know. You tell me. Because we don’t need that anymore. We haven’t used that in years. So it came out of the budget.

But this budget is a tight budget. I know we’ve had this discussion about previous Boards. I am going to tell you right now: It’s a tight, tight budget. And that’s before I got the revenue together, which means there may or may not be cuts. We’ve been cutting things.  There are some things in there that Leslie and I talked about that I think are needs of the district and I think you’d be happy.

I think you’ll be real happy because then you’ll be educated and you’ll know what it’s going to cost. Then next year, we have a full year under our belt. We get this year’s budget, when I present the budget to you next year, not only will you know what you’re going to budget for 17-18, but you will also know what was spent 15-16.

And that’s something that you don’t have now and have not had, from what I see, for a number of years. And that’s what you need. I mean, Mario [Alibrando], you asked me a question: What did we spend on this last year? We don’t know.

Because the way things were done and I don’t know why they were done that way. I don’t want to make judgments of people before me. All I know is I tend to do things a certain way and I like when I present a budget or anything else, I like to educate you as to what things are.  And that is the role that I am supposed to play with the board and I think that is important.

From the source who attended the March 18 special meeting:

The fiscal manager said that state aid is up $33,000, and taxables are up 2.5%. The district switched from Aetna to AmeriHealth last year, and so medical insurance premiums did not go up. No major changes caused the problem. They have just used every penny of every reserve fund they had. Last year they were able to take $800,000. This year there is only $146,000 available. Why, no one seemed to know. That was asked, but not answered. No plan was ever in place for sustaining positions that were created, etc. Chromebooks and new curricular materials were bought. The public was told they were limited to one question a piece. No good answers to any good questions. It was crowded, and 5-6 parents, 2 teachers, and one retired teacher spoke.

According to page 6 of the user-friendly budget for 2015-16, there was a $971,000 legal reserve after the audit in 2014. The projected amount left for 2016 is 0. Someone asked what happened to the $971,000, but Mr. Gerson said he couldn’t and wouldn’t try to answer that one. He has “revised” the 2015-16 budget. I asked for a copy, but he said it is pending approval from the county.

They will vote to approve the budget and cut positions on Monday night.

From the March 20 conversation with Leslie Koller: 

Talking about Monday the 14th, at this point Bill (Gerson) did not have his revenues as of Monday the 14th and I was in waiting mode myself so I cannot really comment any more than what he said.

The revenues came together on Tuesday and he (Bill Gerson) called me in and told me that we have problems, which is what we anticipated. We anticipated that there very, very could well be problems. But we didn’t really know because he was really just putting it together. We really had no idea whether we were going to have more money or enough money or not enough money. We did not know. And it came in the way it probably came in for most districts, and that is we did not have enough revenue to cover everything. I had definitely as he (Bill Gerson) said: to put every single thing that I wanted in. I put my entire wish list in the budget.

So first thing we did was pull all of that out, pull out any non-essentials. So every December, what I do is give a worksheet to each teacher and I ask them to put everything that they need and price it out and I give them a column to check: absolutely needed or wish list. And when I start the budget I put it all in.  And then what I do is I back out anything on the wish list. And that is what I did and then I looked at their absolutely needed and I think: “The minimum that every teacher must have are the workbooks that the kids need to do their work in.” Those are consumables. I look very meticulously at each teacher: If they want a new science kit that has to go. If you were able to do this particular lab before, they can do it again. As much as I would like to give them the lab, they can’t. So I backed out everything I could; teachers needed new furniture. I backed out the second phase of the Chrome Books. I backed out anything that was non-essential.

That happened on Tuesday and he (Bill Gerson) matched it against the revenues and we got it down to where there was still a deficit and it was obvious that the only place that we cut was positions. The amount was so large.

I came up several options for the Board to decide. 

I said this at the meeting the other night. I wanted to be able to give the Board that we have worked very hard to build programs in Mt. Ephraim since I came there. I believe that we have no programs that are non-essential at this point. Even though some parents may disagree. Everything that we have in Mt. Ephraim is baseline essential. My goal would be to not lose any programs. In order to not lose any programs that means not lose any teachers.

But I wanted to give the board options so I came up with plans where there are teacher cuts, which mean program cuts. I came up with a plan where there are teacher’s reduction in time, which are no program cuts.

And that is what I gave to the Board on Friday night and asked them to digest over the weekend. I asked them to call me with any questions over the weekend. And that is what they will have to decide on Monday night.

I can’t tell you [the number of positions that may be affected] because there are a variety of options that the Board could put together.

The Board has options and I want them to ask me questions. Then they have to decide after they have their options and they have their answers from me what is important and what route they would like to go.

With regard to the meeting notice and not giving 48 hours notice, what happened was: We worked together, he (Bill Gerson) told me there was a deficit. We went in and we cut supplies and  he ran a bunch of numbers. He pushed the insurance company to tell them more accurately what the health insurance increase would be. So that he could get as close to the final numbers as possible and we could get an actual amount that we had to cut.

When it was evident that it was going to be staffing, I called in the president of the [Mt. Ephraim Education] Association and I told her that this was going to be an issue. Coincidentally, she had had a membership meeting that afternoon and that’s why I wanted to tell her early because I felt that the teachers had a right to know because we were talking. I had just put an email to the president of the Board and asked her to call an emergency meeting.

As soon as the Board president confirmed that we would do a meeting, we were talking about Saturday or Friday. She had polled all of the board members and it took a little while and they got back. We were able to get eight yeses out of nine for Friday evening.

So as soon as we got that information, I contacted Bill to advertise and he advertised it in all the appropriate places, but he made a mistake and put May instead of March. So he put May 18 instead of March. As soon as that error was found, he made the correction. But the correction was made after the 48 hour limit.

So it was brought to our attention that we missed the 48 hour limit. Then, we consulted our solicitor who told us what the penalties could be for that and I discussed it with our president. At this point, teachers had been notified that there was going to be a meeting. The public had been notified that there was going to be a meeting. We felt it would do more damage to cancel the meeting because of the Open Public Meetings Act because we want the public to be aware and not feel like we are hiding anything. So we decided to go ahead with the meeting.

Mt. Ephraim News

Mt. Ephraim Schools Hope For New Chrome Books

During her report to the Mt. Ephraim Board of Education (BOE) last week, School Superintendent, Leslie Koller said she is working on trying to get Chrome Books for the second phase of the 1:1 laptop initiative for other grades. She also wants to meet the technology team about increasing internet speed for the district.

Fullscreen capture 1312016 25912 PM
Mt. Ephraim Students of the Month with Principal Mike Hunter

She added that the district is exploring various security options for the classroom doors.

During the business portion of the meeting, the BOE approved a jointure with U.S. Communities, the Federal Cooperative Purchasing Agency.

The BOE also approved field trips and the list of substitutes for Insight Workforce Solutions.

Board member Deena Noonan was not present at the meeting. However, Board President Joan Greenwood and Board Member, Robbin Malinowski, acknowledged Noonan for her time and service to the BOE.

In other matters, board member, Diane Vilardo, said that Mt. Ephraim Teen CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) worked with the students at Raymond Kershaw School to collect 1,500 pounds of food, which was donated to WMMR’s Preston & Steve Morning Show. The donations benefited Philabundance.

The BOE will meet again to reorganize on Thursday, January 7.

*Article appeared in the December 24, 2015 edition of the Gloucester City News.
Mt. Ephraim News

Mt. Ephraim Report Cards to Change

Report cards in the Mt. Ephraim schools will have a different look because of the new student management system, said Mt. Ephraim School Superintendent, Leslie Koller, at last week’s Board of Education (BOE) meeting.

Koller explained: “OnCourse is our new student management system. Because the templates are different, the report cards will look different than they have in the past.”

Individual skills in some grades will be noted with the following designations: highly proficient, proficient, partially proficient, and below proficient.

Koller also spoke about the shift to standards based report cards. She noted that this year, Haddon Heights totally switched to standards based and that the transition process took about one year.

For the Mt. Ephraim School District to switch, she said: “That is a project we need to have the community and the teachers involved. It takes a lot of work. We are going to put that for down the road.”

A parent addressed the BOE about the term “modified curriculum” on the report cards. She said: “As a special education teacher and as a parent of a special education student, ‘modified curriculum’ doesn’t mean that they don’t work just as hard for the grades they receive.”

In other matters, the superintendent said that she has been researching options for an online conferencing system that is user friendly and not expensive.

As for the PARCC results, Koller said she is expecting to receive the results and will need time to analyze the information in order to be fully prepared to respond to parents’ questions.

Board member, Carl Ingram, stated that after the board reorganizes in January, talks will start concerning the teachers’ contract.

Contracts for both the superintendent and the teachers are up on June 30, 2016.

Board member, Mario Alibrando, spoke about the Mt. Ephraim Education Foundation exploring options for teachers to submit grants that would outline their needs.

During the business portion of the meeting, the BOE approved all motions.

The BOE approved a retirement for a staff member and the list of substitutes for Insight Workforce Solutions.

*Article originally appeared in the November 26, 2015 edition of the Gloucester City News.
Mt. Ephraim News

Mt. Ephraim BOE Hires Special Counsel

A Resolution was read following an Executive Session at Monday’s Mt. Ephraim Board of Education (BOE) meeting that would appoint special counsel to represent board president, Joan Greenwood for the Ethics Complaint filed against her.

The Resolution, read aloud by board member, Pat Blaylock stated: “Upon the recommendation of the Superintendent that the Board of Education awards Parker, McCay law firm with a contract as special counsel, pursuant to N.J.S.A. 18A:18A-5(a)1, for legal services associated with the representation of Joan Greenwood in the matter of Noonan, et als vs. Greenwood. The Parker McCay law firm has been chosen based on their expertise and experience. The cost of legal services is not to exceed $10,000.”

Following the Executive Session, several board members made comments.

Carl Ingram said: “I hate to see it and this is taking away from the children when the finances could be spent elsewhere.”

Ingram also made a comment concerning his resignation from the board, but he did not offer his resignation during the regular meeting. He said: “I rescind my resignation.”

Nicholas Salamone said: “My actions are in the best interest of the district. Hopefully, my actions can help to correct the instability.”

Rocco Vespe called himself the “senior member of the board” and said “I’ve been on the board the longer than most and I share the concerns of instability. I am going to do everything I can to get the board back and stabilized because it’s what is best for the kids.”

Robbin Malinowki said simply that she is trying to remain positive.

Pat Blaylock stated: “It’s an embarrassment. When you run for the board, you don’t know fully what to expect, but you get into it for the kids. This is my community and my town. My motives are still the same and I will work on getting the board back on track.”

Earlier in the meeting during the public portion and prior to the reading of the Resolution, several parents addressed the BOE concerning “negativity” and “instability.”

One parent stated: “The Board doesn’t get along and doesn’t support the superintendent. The board office is a revolving door and the director of special services also resigned. What is being done to bring back stability to this district?”

Another parent said: “There is a lot of negativity about the board and the superintendent that is being spoken about in the community. This is a very small community and the kids will suffer.”

The BOE voted to accept the resignations of Interim Business Administrator, Valerie Carmody, and the Director of Special Services, Amy Francis. Francis recently accepted a position in the Gloucester City School District.

*Article originally appeared in the September 17, 2015 edition of the Gloucester City News.