Tuckerton-Little Egg Harbor Leader

Little Egg Harbor School Board Boasts Clean Audit

Feb 01, 2019

The Little Egg Harbor Board of Education received a “clean” audit for the 2017-18 school year. Michael Garcia and Gene Volpe of Ford Scott and Associates of Ocean City said a $56,000 deficit in the Community School that had come to light in the 2016-17 year had been decreased to $430 in the last school year.

“This was a good job by the administration to decrease salaries and benefits in that area,” said Volpe during the Jan. 28 board meeting. In the general operating fund, $898,000 was found to be in excess of the 2 percent surplus that is allowed; this must be used to offset taxes in the 2019-20 year. In addition, $608,692 in the capital reserves can be set aside for capital improvements.

“In the climate of declining state aid, this will be helpful to balance that year’s school budget,” said Garcia. “Nick (Brown, district business administrator) has done a good job, along with Ann Facemyer, behind the scenes. She is a valuable asset, and when she retires in six weeks, we will miss her,” he added.

The school budget process is starting in March; each school board meeting will have reports on how that is going until the budget is adopted in May. The public is encouraged to attend.

During the executive session, new board member (and former George J. Mitchell school principal) Deborah Gianuzzi and Dr. Donald Gross were appointed to the finance committee. Both Gianuzzi and the other new board member, John Zimmerman, were welcomed by Superintendent Melissa McCooley.

Steve Spiezle of Spiezle Architects said there is $900,000 worth of savings and work to be done in the district through an Energy Savings Improvement Program. Although the district will initially bond for the work, which could include new energy saving lighting and building management systems, it will recoup the savings over the life of the 15-year-bond. He said the list of projects has been sent to the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities for review.

“Though it’s a long process, there are checks and balances throughout,” he said.

Last September, when the architects gave their initial assessment, they estimated the energy projects to cost $700,000.

Another thing the district might want to look at is solar energy, but it also might be worth getting another school district on board with installing solar energy, as it would be a more attractive package for a solar company. This would result in a savings for the district, perhaps another $100,000, said Spiezle.

Director of Curriculum and Instruction John Acampora said the district had met all of last year’s goals in the areas of small group instruction, character education, science standards and assessments, and is now designated a high performance district. The QSAC rating system looks at indicators including math, science and English language plus chronic absenteeism. From June 2017 to June 2018, the district gained 5 points to bring it to 80 percent, qualifying for the distinction as a high performance district.

Jacqueline Truzzolino, director of elementary education, gave a report on the student safety data system. Between Sept. 1 and Dec. 31, 2018, investigations of incidents of harassment, intimidation and bullying in the Frog Pond School were eight, with four confirmed cases. In the Mitchell School, four cases were alleged, but only one was confirmed.

There were also two other incidents in the Frog Pond School that led to suspensions, and one incident of a threat of violence.

The schools are continuing with their in-school-year and summer programs to lessen the incidents by character education, upstander lessons, a School Safety Climate Team and Students of the Month awards. Teachers, staff and substitute teachers were also given prevention training, meeting in Creating a Culture of Kindness workshops.

McCooley said she had held her first “Sit with the Supe” on Jan. 23, meeting with one parent from Little Egg Harbor and two from the Pinelands district. The next meeting is Feb. 25 at 1 p.m. Call the district office for location.

Brown said the district is abolishing the current opiate policy as it is geared more toward a high school. The elementary school district will form an age-appropriate policy.

— Pat Johnson

patjohnson@thesandpaper.net

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