HAMMONTON—At the April 10
Hammonton Board of Education meeting, Mayor
Stephen DiDonato came before the board to
discuss the importance of retaining the Special
Resource Officers (SROs) employed by the
“I want to speak to you about the SR officers at
the school… We were one of the first schools in
the state to do such [employ SROs], a couple of
years later we moved to the middle school
realizing that times have changed. I stand here
tonight, unfortunately the times have changed,”
DiDonato stated that last year the board of
education budget included approximately $165,000
for special resource officers, and this year the
cost for the district was $194,000, or an
approximately $29,000 increase.
“Last year in your budget you included the
$165,000 and change for the SROs. This year the
cost for the school was 194 [thousand dollars],”
DiDonato informed the board that the town was
willing to split the difference of the increased
cost with the district, requiring a cost of
$180,000 in the budget for the school district
to employ special resource officers.
“So publicly today we’re [the town] willing to
split the difference and charge $180,000 which
is a $15,000 swing from last year to this year,”
According to DiDonato, 40 percent of the
remaining $15,000 increase would be assumed by
the sending districts, leaving a cost of $9,000
for the taxpayers of the town to assume or a
tenth of a cent increase.
“Forty percent of the cost of that $15,000 would
be [borne] by the [sending] district, so
approximately $6,000. So it would cost the
taxpayers of Hammonton $9,000 to keep that
officer over last year in the building which is
a tenth of a cent…but a tenth of a cent for the
safety of our students…I find to be
insignificant cost for the safety of our
students,” DiDonato said.
DiDonato noted that the town is willing to
continue to provide an additional officer for
the Warren E. Sooy school and the Early
Childhood Education Center as well.
“Last year council put on an additional
officer…for the ECEC and WES building and we’re
willing to do that again next year,” DiDonato
He urged the board to consider the decision over
the next month with the safety of the district’s
students in mind.
“So I ask you to think about that decision over
the next month… Remember the safety of our
students and their comfort is first and
foremost,” DiDonato said.
Hammonton Board of Education President Joseph
Giralo thanked DiDonato and emphasized that
student safety is a top priority for the
district as well.
“Thank you and for the record this board also
takes safety as the number one precaution for
all of our students,” Giralo said.
Charlene Zoerb from the New Jersey School Boards
Association presented the board with a strategic
plan focused on goals related to student
achievement and technology, finance and
facilities and communication. This is a
five-year plan that can be used for goal setting
according to Zoerb.
“This strategic plan is really a framework for
the board to use as a guiding light to go
forward over the next five years… The board of
education usually uses it for goal setting,”
The plan is formed through a collaborative
effort with members of the community, staff, and
parents according to Zoerb.
“We have community members, parents, staff,
many, many participants were involved,” Zoerb
The board passed a resolution recognizing Marie
Fucetola for her achievements and service to the
district and the community. Fucetola was honored
as Citizen of the Year on April 11 by the
Hammonton Lions Club. [See Page 3 for related
Board member Thomas Attanasi congratulated
Fucetola and recalled their time as colleagues.
“I just want to congratulate Marie Fucetola for
Citizen of the Year… I was a colleague with
Marie for 16 years and the honor she’s receiving
is well deserved,” Attanasi said.
Two resolutions were passed authorizing the
execution and delivery of two grant agreements
for the Hammonton Middle School HVAC replacement
and window replacement projects.
The board also approved two resolutions
delegating authority to Hammonton Business
Administrator Barbara S. Prettyman for the
supervision of the school facilities project for
the HVAC and window replacement projects.
The board awarded a contract to TTI wireless in
the amount of $7,508.48 for Meru support and
Board member Sam Mento gave an update from the
negotiations committee and reported that
negotiations were moving forward with a lot of
give-and-take from both parties.
“We’ve already agreed to about a dozen or so
language changes to the existing contract, some
at the request of the committee some at the
request of the association and I have to say
thus far there’s been a lot of give and take. We
are scheduled to meet again next week and I will
be sure to keep the public filled in on our
project,” Mento said.
The next meeting of the Board of Education will
be the public budget hearing on Wednesday, May
Board member Eric Weiss was absent from the