Tuckerton Elementary School Readies for Sept. 7 School Opening

Aug 30, 2017
Photo by: Pat Johnson The parking lot and safe turn-around drive at Tuckerton Elementary are almost ready for opening day.

Tuckerton Elementary School Superintendent and Business Administrator Janet Gangemi said waiting for new HVAC units means the construction improvements to some parts of the school won’t be completed till mid-October; that means no air conditioning in the main offices, Child Study Team offices, fourth-, fifth- and sixth-grade classrooms and music room office.

“Hopefully we won’t have any 110 degree days,” she told the Tuckerton Board of Education. The HVAC company was given a strongly worded letter from the school attorney, but that is not making the parts come any faster, she noted.

However, the project to create a U-shaped drive through school property to eliminate the practice of buses and parents dropping students at the sidewalk and curb on Marine Street will be ready for school’s start. This safety issue was a priority for the school district.

A new playground with basketball courts has also been blacktopped, and the playground equipment has arrived but is not yet installed. “We hope to have that for the start of school,” Gangemi said.

The gym will also be off-limits at school’s start because a new entryway had to be built to the outside to meet code, and those doors are not yet ready. Also the new elevator that will go from the gym to the first-floor entryway, making the gym handicap accessible, is not going to be finished until possibly December.

A back door from the cafeteria will be completed by opening day; the state mandates there must be two doors in any room that holds more than 50 people.

Gangemi, Principal Siobhan Grayson and the PTA are working on plans for the traditional Back to School night, Sept. 12, without using the gymnasium.

Otherwise, things are moving ahead on schedule.

Gangemi, in her role as business administrator, told the board the school will be moving funds from the capital reserve to pay the committed $250,000 capital contribution and $425,000 for additional HVAC work. Paving the basketball court was an additional $6,000.

During a quick tour of the building by the board of ed members, Gangemi said one of the things the school wanted to do was keep the façade with the original banner “Tuckerton High School” intact for historical purposes; the building was built in 1929.

Over the summer, the board approved a three-year contract with Gangemi to raise her salary from $118,930 to $127,000; this is $20,000 less than the maximum a school district could pay for a school this size with 287 students. She does not get extra money for her job as business administrator. Gangemi told the board she is now a qualified purchasing agent for the school.

Gangemi will get a 2-percent raise the second and third year of her contract.

The board approved the Every Student Succeeds Act grants – ESSA used to be called “No Child Left Behind.” The Title 1 grant is for $76,825, to be used for basic skills, Title IIA is $9,123 for teacher professional training, $2,187 toward English as a Second Language programs and $10,000 to be used for STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) programs.

During the principal’s report, Grayson thanked the custodial staff for their “phenomenal” work keeping the school clean during all the construction and the summer staff for working through the confusion. She welcomed a new team teacher, Nicholas Barieri, who is familiar with the school’s curriculum. Children in grades one through six now have their own Chromebooks, which will be helpful for online tests and accessing digital programs.

There was a good turnout for the preschool and kindergarten registration with 18 families showing up for preschool and 20 for kindergarten.

Grayson will give a presentation on the PARC and NJAsk test results at the Sept. 25 board meeting.

By eliminating one cafeteria aide position, the school will use the $8,000 toward paying stipends to teachers who create after-school programs. “We have lots of kids who when they leave here are not occupied productively,” said Gangemi. Art teacher Lisa Lucariello will run an after-school ceramics program, and Trish Evans will run a School Yearbook Club.

PTA President Joni Colandrea and its members have an impressive schedule of events for the 2017-18 school year, said Gangemi.

There are three people running for two three-year seats on the school board and one unexpired term. Ryan Short and Anna Morey are running for re-election, and newcomer candidate Renee Gioiello was attending the board meeting. Gioiello is married with two grown children, is vice president of the Tuckerton Beach Association and works as a real estate saleswoman for BayShore (formerly for the Van Dyk Group on LBI) and has lived full time in Tuckerton Beach for three years. When the couple lived in Woodbridge, Gioiello was president of the “President’s Club,” acting as liaison to the parent-teacher organizations and school boards of 24 school districts. “I’m passionate about children’s education,” she said.

— Pat Johnson

patjohnson@thesandpaper.net

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