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Galloway School District Talks Referendum at Town Hall Meeting

Superintendent Dr. Annette Giaquinto and Business Administrator Tim Kelley spoke with some residents who live in Four Seasons.

Four Seasons retirement community residents John and Amy DeFilippis went into Thursday afternoon’s town hall style meeting with the same opinion on the scheduled for next Tuesday, March 13, but at least one of them may have changed their mind after listening to what representatives had to say.

“I’m going to have to think about it,” Amy DeFilipis said. “When I came in, it was a definite no. Now, it’s a maybe. I’m going to have to go home and digest everything and see how I feel.”

“They didn’t change my mind,” John DeFilipis said. “Our taxes are the highest in the nation, and now they want to make them even higher.”

John DeFilipis stated he felt the district wasn’t doing enough at the state level.

“They need to push the legislators,” he said. “They have to come up with something. Even if it’s just a little bit, or if it’s half, that would be better, but it seems like they didn’t even apply.”

Business Administrator Tim Kelley maintains that no grants are currently being offered by the School Development Authority. The last one he was able to get was when he was the Business Administrator in the Bridgeton School District, for fire alarm upgrades in both Bridgeton and Downe Township. That was between two and three years ago.

“They’re not issuing new grants right now,” Kelley said, adding the state was using the grants to build new schools in Abbot Districts. “It’s not an open period for grants right now. There was one a few years ago.”

John DeFilipis said he would consider voting in favor of the referendum if the district was able to procure state aid.

Tuesday’s vote is on a $6.9 million plan to replace the roofs at , and elementary schools, fire alarms at Smithville, Roland Rogers and , and to improve the drainage system and parking lot at Arthur Rann.

Kelley and Galloway Superintendent of Schools Annette Giaquinto held the town hall style meeting at the on Thursday afternoon, March 8. Residents from Four Seasons turned out to voice their concerns.

“We just voted on this in December,” John Filipis said. “Many of the residents went down to Florida and aren’t back yet. They feel like the district is trying to sneak it in.”

“Some of us feel like the referendum is so close to December, they’re just going to vote no,” Amy DeFilipis said. “They don’t care why.”

There are only four times a year a school district can go out for a referendum—January, March, April and December. The referendum in December was defeated by eight votes, prompting the district to go back out to vote. They’re stressing these are safety issues, and emphasize that the longer the district goes without making repairs, the more the projects will cost in the long run.

The question was raised of state aid, after it was announced last week that the district will get $900,000.

Kelley explained the district was $500,000 in debt to begin with, and $300,000 is allocated for charter schools, leaving the district with $100,000 left over.

The issue of the Capital Investment Fund was also raised, and the school district said it was saving the money in that fund for emergency situations.

Although the turnout wasn’t what the district was hoping for, it did appreciate the questions put forth, particularly by Amy DeFilipis.

“They were very informed, logical, excellent questions,” Kelley said.

Amy DeFilipis doesn’t think seniors should have to pay at all.

“The community we live in is all seniors,” she said. “We’ve been taxed and taxed and we can’t take it anymore. … Our parents are living longer and we have to take care of them.”

“My mom is a senior citizen and she lives with me,” said Al Casanova, a real estate agent for Keller Williams Realty Atlantic Shore. “We can barely make ends meet. With all the injustices currently going on in Galloway, lawsuits pending that we’re going to have to pay for and have no choice, this referendum gives us a chance to say yes or no.”

That’s what the Town Hall meeting, Superintendent’s Advisory Board and speeches at school and family events are aimed at. The district wants informed voters coming to the polls on Tuesday, March 13.

“We have volunteers who will be at ShopRite this weekend. We had an Advisory Team meeting this week where volunteers took home posters and they will display them in other places,” Giaquinto said. “We have gone out of our way to do more to inform the voters. … We want educated voters to come out on March 13.”

betsy March 09, 2012 at 05:49 PM
If the roof was leaking in your OWN children's and grandchildren's schools and the fire alarm systems in need of replacement in order to possibly save their lives, would you then vote yes? The school district isn't asking for frills here. Sure, taxes are too high and the funding system needs changing, but voting against replacing needed repairs and replacements hurts Galloway's children and does nothing to affect taxation and school funding methods.
David Carmen March 10, 2012 at 03:11 PM
Our district has done an excellent job in maintaining a high standard of education for our youth throughout the years. The schools are kept in amazing shape. The money that needed for these major repairs is something that cannot be figured into the budget for the next year or yearrs. The state of New Jersey will not allow any public school to save money up for any purpose. As a homeowner we can have a "New Roof" savings account, public schools cannot. If there is money left over, the state can claim it as their own. The only way GTPS can obtain funding to replace 3 roof and upgrade the fire alarms is through the referendum process. An average of $28 per year for the next four years is what we as taxpayers will have to pay to get this done. A YES vote will ensure that we as taxpayers will get the schools repaired and do not incur additional charges for prolonging the inevitable. Without the roofs getting replaced we could be facing a much larger sum of money in the next coming years, water damage can nearly double the cost of the original estimate to replace an aged roof.
VTPat March 11, 2012 at 03:03 AM
Again, the powers that be did not fare well under questioning. The questions about state aid and the Capital Investment Fund yielded surprising answers (Well, no surprise to me) especially this piece of arrogant, dribble in response to the Capital Investment Fund question: "the school district said it was saving the money in that fund for emergency situations." So, a leaking roof and an aging hvac system do not qualify as emergency situations. Then what does, raises or accrued unused vacation / sick time payouts or yearly raises for Administrators? Maybe paying the extra $$ to abide by the Project Labor Agreements qualifies as an emergency?? Finally, the last sentence about the usual "we have to do this now" declaration. You are right, the longer we wait the more it will cost, that's what happens when you wait, the labor/material costs go up. We do have Project Labor Agreements we have to abide by. Maybe the union construction guys will take the Revel deal they cheered so loudly for. PLAs should be eliminated but never will be here because of all of our union buddy boy Republicans. I'm sure Mr. Urbin will have alot to say about Project Labor Agreements at the meeting Wednesday. Take the Revel deal guys!!!
VTPat March 11, 2012 at 03:12 AM
I will be working that night but are Project labor Agreements part of your conversation. I would hope so!
BARBARA BROWN March 12, 2012 at 12:34 AM
We will be discussing fair school funding only at this time. You are welcome to attend any of our meetings,

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