Board of Education meeting notes from Sept. 13, 2016:

Opening success

Assistant Superintendent Kim Gruccio said the schools were opened with success and thanked all of the faculty, administration and staff made the transition a smooth one.

Egg Harbor Township Education Association President Kathy Waszen said the opening of the school year was “phenomenal.”

“The atmosphere was electrified. I still feel it now. Back to school nights are going smoothly. I am hoping that this is just the beginning,” she said.

Board President James Galvin said while there have been several other good starts over the years, this opening was one of the best he had ever seen, especially in the past few years.

Committee to investigate facilities use policy

An ad hoc committee was approved to review the board’s current use of facilities policy and the fees the board charges for rental of district-owned spaces.

Board member Amber Umphlett will chair the committee. She will be joined by Jack Haines, Louis DellaBarca and Pete Castellano.

Meetings will be public. However, no dates were yet available.

New projects funded

The board approved the withdrawal of $142,141 from capital reserves for several projects including the replacement of doors in the high school and Fernwood Avenue Middle School, the purchase of a new strainer for and cleaning of the high school pool ($10,132) and $88,900 for architect fees for a new maintenance building.

Board member Pete Castellano said the new building was needed because the current one is not safe. The replacement building would likely be a premade structure.

The total project costs are expected to be between $1 million and $1.5 million and funded through the capital reserves account.

Castellano said the district’s savings on the cost of replacing fuel tanks at the transportation department will be applied to the maintenance building project costs.

Prior to the board’s withdrawal, the account had a balance of $2,028,000. The balance is now $1,885,859.

Homeschooling, drug testing and dress code policies

The board’s policy committee will be examining a report on the district’s homeschooling policy, which last year was changed to allow homeschooled children to participate in high school athletics. The policy calls for an annual review, which will be conducted by the committee in an upcoming meeting.

Resident Lori Faber, whose son recently transferred to a charter school, asked the board to allow other out-of-district students to participate in high school activities such as marching band.

Elizabeth Shobe, whose daughter attends the schools, asked the board to revise its dress code policy, specifically as it pertains to girls’ attire. She read a prepared letter during which she said the policy teaches unintentional and false lessons that boys cannot control themselves and girls are to blame for other people’s behavior. She said she feels the policy is reinforcing a “rape culture.”

She asked that board revise the policy to remove certain specific restrictions and to implement a new policy that teachers or administrators only discuss dress code concerns with parents, not directly with students.

Board President James Galvin said he would prefer to mandate school uniforms, but asked the committee to review the policy again as a courtesy to Shobe.

The committee is also set to discuss policies related to random drug testing and the rights of transgender students.

Castellano also announced that the district is in the process of posting all of its regulations on board policies on its website.

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Staff writer Laura Stetser covers Egg Harbor Township and writes the weekly column The Mom's Beat. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter @EHTCurrent, @LauraStetser and @TheMomsBeat.