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  • Writer's pictureKristin Guglietti

1/2-cent tax decrease

HAMMONTON—The Hammonton Board of Education approved the school district budget for the 2022-2023 school year during the March 23 meeting. The total general fund budget is $57,956,766 with a local tax levy of $18,320,722.

The total special revenue fund budget is $3,843,898 with no levy; the total debt service fund is $2,061,156 with a local tax levy of $1,662,175.

The total budget for the 2022-2023 school year is $63,861,820 with a local tax levy total of $19,982,897.

“We have almost a $64 million budget here with lots of money that comes in from lots of different places especially during the pandemic a lot of the additional funding we received from COVID-19,” Board member John Lyons said during the finance committee report.

“This budget represents about a $3.8 million in increased state aid. That is money based on the state’s funding formula that was owed to us … This particular budget also represents a one-half cent tax decrease on the school portion of the budget,” Lyons said.

Board President Sam Mento III called the meeting to order and all board members were present at the Samuel A. Donio Memorial Library except for Board Member Thomas Attanasi and Folsom Representative John Thomas who were absent.

Business Administrator Barbara Prettyman presented the 2020-2021 audit. The audit synopsis and corrective action plan are available for the public as required by NJSA 18A:23-4.

“Our reserve accounts at the end of the year remain stable at $11.6 million minus the $2 million from the last state aid payments that are now made in our fiscal year for a net balance of $9.6 million. We’ve been able to maintain those balances due in part to the State of New Jersey funding the district closer to what is owed to us,” Prettyman said.

Prettyman added that “there were no audit findings.”

“As you’ve heard, Mrs. Prettyman talked about yet another audit with no findings, and that’s certainly a testament to Mrs. Prettyman and her staff and the folks at the front office,” Lyons said.

Hammonton Superintendent of Schools Robin Chieco gave her report next.

“State-mandated standardized testing has begun and will continue through May,” Chieco said.

“This evening we’ll hear the overall budgets projected for the 2022-2023 school year… We are fortunate that our state has recognized our district is deserving of the student state funds,” Chieco said.

Board member Kelly Donio gave the report from the community cohesion committee.

“We reached out to the town and we are working with the town to hopefully livestream our school board meetings and possibly other things,” Donio said.

Currently, the board meetings are livestreamed on YouTube. The community cohesion committee is working to livestream meetings and other school events on Channel 9.

“I think a lot of people in the community would love to be able to watch things that are happening in the school—not just the board meetings,” Donio said.

Board member Raymond Scipione gave the community relations report.

Scipione congratulated the Hammonton Middle School THINK team that competed at Mainland High School on February 26. He also read the winners of the Hammonton Middle School spelling bee: Landon Calen (First Place, seventh grade), Julian Felipe (Second Place, sixth grade) and Lana Torres (Third Place, seventh grade). Calen also finished sixth in Atlantic County, Scipione said.

“Although only their first year as a club, the Hammonton High School esports team has earned a spot at the EGF, the Electronic Gaming Federation National Tournament at Disney World in June. These teams face fierce competition across eight weeks of a regular season, and intense battle through regional playoff brackets that earned their fourth-place ranking in their region. Our team will compete against the best teams from across the rest of the country for the title of national champion,” Scipione said.

Spring sports are back with opening days beginning April 1, Scipione said.

“A special thank you to Robert Capoferri for his generous donation to the district and the refurbishment of the track around our fields,” Scipione said.

Shrek the Musical will be performed March 31 to April 2 at the Hammonton High School. Tickets can be purchased online.

A public auction will be held April 6 at 11 p.m. for the Tiny House. There will be a $20,000 minimum bid, Scipione said.

Scipione also mentioned that the Hammonton Education Foundation will be holding their annual Taste of the Town: One Bite at a Time event. Various local businesses will be providing discounts with purchase of a ticket. Tickets can be used from April 1 to May 31.

During the meeting, board member Luke Coia talked about the turf field project.

“I’m a little concerned with the fact that we spent the last three months; it was awarded in January meeting. We spent a lot of time trying to figure where we are on the project. I did a lot of research myself trying to find out where we were and found out we need Department of Education approval,” Coia said.

“Moving forward I hope that all necessary approvals are in place prior to awarding projects we contracted especially when time is of the essence for projects like this. There has been discussions with the board about when to start the project, and now that we had a little bit of delay do we start the project now or do we wait till after the season and prepare for the following season? My opinion is I think the price increase is going to be tremendous if we wait. I don’t know if the contractor had an obligation to open his price for the whole year. I highly doubt it. But we know that in previous bids, this same project was significantly less per field. We had I think the price of two fields for the same price we’re now doing one. So if we wait till next year, the price is going to be even higher,” Coia said.

Mento responded.

“Just to clarify to the people, the original price was pre-COVID. The second time we went out to bid this year we actually saved a little bit of money on the rebid,” Mento said.

“I think it’s in the best interest I feel that we go forward now and start the project now,” Coia said.

Coia also mentioned the Hammonton Little League is having an open house on April 9 with a first-day ceremony.

Board member Kelli Fallon from the solar committee said Atlantic City Electric is doing their part to get the project running.

During the grounds committee report, Mento talked about the turf field project.

“My biggest concern has always been the completion of this field. It scared me to death to think that we could potentially be running into a situation where our kids wouldn’t have a home game next year,”

Mento said Supervisor of Grounds Frank LaSasso began last fall “putting some additional attention to the practice fields for the girls field hockey field.”

“If we do have the ability to get this project on its way in a timely manner, then we come up a little bit short on practice season, potentially a game or two, they will have a very nice field to continue to have home games, so rest assured Hammonton field hockey team will definitely be having some home field games this year,” Mento said.

The next school board meeting will be held April 7 at 7 p.m. at the Samuel A. Donio Memorial Library.


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