Joseph F. Berenato
Board welcomes Coia
Mento president, Byrnes vice president
HAMMONTON—The Hammonton Board of Education held their annual reorganization meeting on January 3 at the Samuel A. Donio Memorial Library in Hammonton High School.
Board solicitor William Donio called the meeting to order in place of board secretary Barbara Prettyman, who was unable to attend the meeting due to inclement weather.
“She asked the board if they would indulge her not to be able to come tonight because of the treacherous roads, and she asked if I would fill in her for. I said it would be my privilege and my honor,” he said.
After the open public meeting statement and the pledge of allegiance, William Donio read the results of the 2021 school election.
“Erica Polito, 1,842; Tom Attanasi, 1,967; Sean Grasso, 1,395; Kelly Donio, 2, 110; Luke Coia, 1,886; Mickey Pullia, 1,623,” Donio said.
Oaths of office were then administered for Attanasi, Coia and Donio in alphabetical order.
William Donio administered the oath for Attanasi, who was joined by his granddaughters, Ellie and Emma Driscoll.
“One of the various privileges I have is swearing in new board members, because that’s a continuation of our participatory democracy that we have found to really reflect the ideals of our nation,” William Donio said.
Judge Frank Raso administered the oath for Coia, who was joined by his wife, Angel, and their children, L.J., Katie and Gia.
“This is not the first Coia family member that I have sworn into office. Thirty-five years ago—yeah, you heard that right; 35 years ago—I swore in Luke’s dad into office for a second term as a four-year member of the Hammonton Zoning Board. The best part of that story is that I did it with this bible,” Raso said.
Kelly Donio was joined by her husband, Jim, and their children, Matthew, Juliet and Amelia, and was administered the oath of office by Judge Sara Beth Johnson via Zoom.
“When Kelly told me she was elected to the school board, I was very excited. I’ve known her and Jim for a very long time—Jim for longer, because Kelly’s younger than us. I know that she’s going to be a great asset to the school board and to the district,” Johnson said.
Before taking official roll, William Donio echoed the sentiments of both Raso and Johnson “in thanking both the new members who are on board for the board of education as well as everyone who runs.”
“It’s important in a vigorous democracy to have elections, and have those elections have integrity, and to have those elections mean something. It’s very important that we continue to do so, so I want to welcome everyone,” he said.
Following the roll call, William Donio called for nominations for board president. Board member Linda Byrnes nominated existing president Sam Mento III, with Attanasi seconding the nomination. Board member Barbara Berenato nominated Kelli Fallon; Fallon seconded the nomination.
Board member John Lyons abstained. Berenato, Coia and Fallon voted for Fallon, while Attanasi, Byrnes, Donio, Mento, Ray Scipione and Waterford Twp. representative Al Pangia voted for Mento.
“I believe and I would recommend that the board recognize Mr. Mento as elected to president,” William Donio said.
Mento then offered a welcome to the new board members.
“Although I wasn’t one being sworn in tonight, I do always feel—at every reorganization meeting—the nervousness and the anxiety, and, really, the positive energy in the room. I look forward to working with not just the new members, but working with all of our members here at the board,” Mento said.
Mento addressed the board at large.
“These are challenging times, and I really think, together, if we put our collective minds and all pull in the same direction, we certainly will be able to provide our students the first-class education at a cost that all our taxpayers can afford,” Mento said.
Mento then accepted nominations for the board’s vice president. Attanasi nominated Byrnes; Scipione seconded the motion. As there were no other nominations, Byrnes was elected to the position.
The board then voted on an action item resolution to “appoint Mr. William Donio, Esq. of Cooper Levenson attorneys for 2022 calendar year.”
Pangia made the motion to approve, which Coia seconded, and the motion was approved unanimously.
“It has been 26 years, and we appreciate the support and the ability to continue to represent my home. As you know, I bleed Blue Devil blue,” William Donio said.
The board also resolved to:
• Adopt Robert’s Rules of Order, the By-Laws, Policies and Regulations of the district, and the district’s fee structure under Public Records Policy (N.J.S.A. 47:1A-5) for the ensuing term
• Adopt the New Jersey School Board Member Code of Ethics (N.J.S.A. 18A:12-24.1) for the ensuing term
• Designate The Hammonton Gazette and The Press of Atlantic City as the official newspapers for the district’s publications and directed that advertising occur as needed in accordance with the rate schedule.
• Adopt the January 2022-December 2022 Meeting Schedule and direct its dissemination in accordance with the provisions of the Open Public Meetings Act. Each meeting will have an executive session at 6 p.m. with a public session at 7 p.m., and will be held on January 20, February 10, March 10, April 7, May 5, June 2, July 14, August 11, September 8, October 13, November 3 and December 8.
• Appoint the following personnel for 2022 calendar year:
-- Tammy Leonard—District Affirmative Action Officer
-- Mickey Walsh—District Affirmative Action Officer
-- Marni Parks—District Title IX Coordinator
-- Michael Ryan—District Section 504 Compliance Officer and ADA Coordinator
-- Barbara Prettyman—Board Secretary, Custodian of Public Records, Purchasing Agent, Loss Control Coordinator and Public Agency Compliance Officer
-- Frank LaSasso—Integrated Pest Management Coordinator
-- Sharon Murray—Indoor Air Quality and JCS/Right to Know Contact
-- Ahera Consultants, Inc.—AHERA Compliance Officer
-- Approve the superintendent or designee, be designated to approve such line item budget transfers as are necessary between Board of Education meetings, and that such transfers shall be reported to the Board of Education, ratified and duly recorded in the minutes of the next regular meeting as provided by N.J.S.A. 18A:22-8.1 amended.
-- Approve the following personnel pending receipt of all necessary paperwork (current substitute pay schedule approved by the Board August 5, 2021: Regular County Substitute Certificate—$110 per day, Regular Standard State Teaching Certificate—$125 per day; substitute nurse pay schedule approved by the Board October 14, 2021: School Nurse—$225 per day):
-- Heather Scarduzio, high school (replacement J.C.) school nurse effective on or after March 3
-- Sharon Snow, elementary school (replacement S.O.) part-time cafeteria/playground aide
-- Approve a parent waiver for a Board of Education hearing for a high school student (R.T.)
The board entertained a final motion, at William Donio’s request, designating the “board solicitor as the board secretary pro tem.”
“For those of you who may be confused about that very high vocabulary, what had happened was, again, Mrs. Prettyman from Cape May County was unable to attend, so Mr. Donio requested a resolution that he fill in for her,” Mento said.
William Donio explained further.
“As silly as it sounds, Mr. Mento, I actually have to ask for this because I actually argued this case before the Supreme Court of whether you have to take action to designate somebody as the secretary pro tem. So, as silly as it sounds, this is all part of the record-keeping necessary to make sure everything goes the way it is supposed to,” he said.
The resolution was approved.
Mento then addressed the board regarding committee assignments.
“A note to all the board members, please: in the very near future, reach out to me with any committee requests. I’ll be sure to accommodate, the best I can, all your requests,” Mento said.
Before the conclusion of the meeting, the newly-elected members each addressed the board.
Attanasi expressed well-wishes to the board members, both new and existing.
“Welcome everybody. Happy New Year, everybody. I can’t believe this is my fourth term; I’m looking forward to serving with everybody for another three years,” Attanasi said.
Kelly Donio expressed gratitude.
“I’d just like to thank the residents of the town of Hammonton for electing me to this office, and I promise to do my best. I’d also like to say a little shout-out to my parents, who unfortunately could not be here this evening but have been my best teachers since day one, and they have taught me so many great lessons, and I am grateful for everything they have done for me—and I hope that I will make them proud, as well as the residents of the town,” she said.
Coia echoed their sentiments.
“I also would like to thank the residents of Hammonton for electing me as well. Happy New Year, everybody; I look forward to working with the entire board,” Coia said.
The next board meeting is scheduled for January 20 at 7 p.m. in the Samuel A. Donio Memorial Library at Hammonton High School.