Candidates and the issues that matter

The Sun asked the candidates for Marlton Board of Education the following questions:

Question 1: What other solutions will help the school continue in its efforts to become “green?”
Question 2: In what other ways is Evesham looking to retain revenue for the school? Is the marketing the only venture, if so, will varying improvements be made throughout the year?

Candidates answered to the best of their ability, and their solutions to the questions if they were to be voted in to serve on the school board.

Below are their answers.

Louise Sprouse

Question 1: What other solutions will help the school continue in its efforts to become “green?

During my first term on the board, I made going “green” a priority for our board and district when I proposed an energy initiative. The goal of this initiative was to better educate our students, so that they could become the next generation of energy smart consumers and to help reduce the budgetary needs of the district. A thorough energy audit of our facilities was then done to establish the areas where energy conservation could reduce costs and increase efficiency.

As a driving force behind our energy initiative, I am proud to report that our board, working with the superintendent, business administrator and facilities manager, has made great progress in its efforts to go “green.” Our schools have been equipped with more energy efficient light bulbs, as well as timers that adjust room temperatures during non-school hours. Since our district includes nine buildings, covering over 700,000 square feet, the reduction in energy usage from those two measures alone is staggering. Our board is now nearly 100 percent paperless, and weekly announcements are now sent electronically to parents. Costly ink jet printers have been replaced with more efficient laser printers. We have also placed composting bins in all of the district’s cafeterias, reducing the cost of waste removal. In addition, rooftop solar panels will soon be installed on two of our schools, which will result in a $38,000 savings per school in the first year alone.

As we move forward, I would like to steer our district into becoming a “Green Ribbon School,” with an emphasis on student participation. I believe carbon offsetting is a great place for students to start. Projects like tree planting at our facilities, in addition to school sponsored donations to reforestation projects elsewhere, will help to reduce carbon emissions in the atmosphere and teach our children about erasing our carbon footsteps. We will also be looking at ways to further develop our composting and solar panel projects.

We have made a great start in reducing our environmental impact to create safe, sustainable schools that optimize the learning environment for students while reducing costs. I hope you will re-elect me to the Evesham Township School Board so that I can continue to work with other board members and district administrators to further develop and refine our Energy Initiative and reach our “green” goals.

Question 2: What other ways is Evesham looking to obtain revenue for the school? Is marketing the only venue, if so, will varying improvements be made throughout the year?

Since I was elected to serve on the board six years ago, several alternative revenue sources have been identified and initiated. A cell tower placed on the grounds of Marlton Middle School yields approximately $1,000 per month in rent. By consolidating bus routes, we have saved $200,000 in transportation costs.

The Evesham Education Foundation works tirelessly to provide additional funds for valuable programs that might otherwise be eliminated due to budget cuts and reduction in state aid. Private donors can find three tiers of donations on our website. They can also target specific areas they would like to support. Donations have been a much-needed boost for our discretionary spending by filling revenue gaps. As an educator, I recognize the need to invest in new programs and equipment that will accelerate student achievement.

Our curriculum department has become a Reading Recovery Training Site for surrounding districts. This eliminates substantial fees to train our own staff and will provide anticipated annual revenue of $20,000. The Marlton Middle Autistic Program saves the district approximately $150,000 in out of district tuition and transportation costs. Our tuition-based full-day kindergarten will generate $400,000 in revenue. Parents enthusiastically embraced the program as an alternative to private schools in the area. It was especially appreciated by working families that needed full-day childcare coverage. The program offers a curriculum aligned with the district’s, which allows students a smooth transition into our first grades.

The board entered into an agreement with Advantage3, a community-marketing firm, to use ads to retain revenue for our schools. We began conservatively with plans that required little or no start-up fees and generates immediate revenue. Sponsorship banners will soon appear on our district’s website. Ads will be displayed on the outside of buses. The board maintains final decision on the types and placements of all ads. Should our partnership with Advantage3 yield sizable revenue, the board will consider investing some of that money into a full Asset Assessment to evaluate the benefits of other types of advertising within our schools.

I would also like to see a more grass roots approach to marketing within our community involving our parents who work for local, regional or national businesses. I would like to invite them to take an active role in bridging their employers with our schools. Direct sponsorship of education is an investment in our economy and future.

JoAnne Harmon

Question 1:

Our schools are communities within a community, and all school districts have the unique ability to serve as examples of fiscal and ecological responsibility by instituting a variety of “green” programs. I’ve been a strong advocate of green initiatives within Evans school, successfully building and maintaining our PTA website and electronic communication initiatives to both eliminate paper communications, as well as provide a better way for parents and the community to stay connected to the many programs, events, and activities within our school.

Schools have large ecological footprints, requiring significant energy resources and expenses. Estimates indicate that U.S. schools spend $8 billion on energy annually. By utilizing advancements in technology, we can institute energy-efficient initiatives that allow us to reduce one of the larger expense lines without effecting instructional programs and staff. As we reduce our energy, water, and paper consumption, the more dollars we’re able to dedicate to important priorities focused on student performance. Additionally, by promoting “green” alternatives, we can use it as a learning tool for our children in science, math, community and fiscal responsibility, and to teach real-world problem solving techniques.

Our district has already implemented many energy-efficient initiatives, and as we evaluate the results of the district’s energy audit, we must analyze the cost-effectiveness of long-term investments such as additional renewable energy projects, high-efficiency structure upgrades, as well as continued short-term solutions of increased paperless initiatives. Some additional ideas to increase green initiatives across our district include:

  • Increase number of schools receiving solar panels from current level of two elementary schools.
  • Install energy-efficient water systems in bathrooms across district, including low flow toilets, motion-sensor faucets.
  • Institute “green teams” in schools, involving students in the importance of energy conservation and environmental preservation. These teams would be responsible for organizing recycling efforts, creating environmental awareness, and brainstorming on additional ideas and solutions to reduce waste.
  • Install storm water collection systems for re-use.
  • Apply for grants to build school vegetable and fruit gardens.
  • Continue recycling efforts and paperless initiatives across all schools.
  • Continue to evaluate and expand the recent composting initiative that was implemented this year within the District to decrease costs associated with waste removal.

Question 2:

School Districts should make it a practice to continually assess and evaluate opportunities to increase revenue and ensure that we are consistently using that revenue in the most cost-effective way possible to maximize academic achievement and ensure that our children are always the top priority. With the elimination of the public’s vote on the budget, I believe that the board has an increased responsibility to the community to ensure all potential revenue-generating ideas are considered and evaluated.

Last month, the school board voted to approve advertising on school buses and websites. Website advertising could potentially generate the most immediate return, as this is something that can be implemented quickly with little effort. The other option that was presented to the board was advertising on hard assets such as buildings and fields. The district has not yet approved this idea it has a higher upfront cost to conduct the viability analysis, and would take much longer to realize any profit. Yes, the district should continue to consider advertising as a viable means to generate additional revenue, and weigh the benefits with what increased advertising would look like for our district and in our schools. Advertising, however, isn’t the only option. Additional revenue-generating ideas to consider include:

  • Increasing the opportunity to offer our curriculum training and professional development programs and services to other districts for a fee.
  • Implementing a district-run camp program in the summer with enrichment activities and programs that run anywhere from four to six weeks.
  • Obtaining increased funding through grant proposals and grant writing. Although grant writing can prove to be a time-consuming task for personnel that already have a load of existing duties and responsibilities, we should assess the potential for former educators and administrators to assist in writing grants on a fee basis.
  • Evaluating additional opportunities for shared services with the township, county, and neighboring districts. The Evesham School District has been successful in implementing several shared services with the township, and this should continue to be assessed and expanded.
  • Actively promoting broader school use to community organizations, businesses, and groups for a fee during evenings and, or summers.
  • Using online auction houses to sell no longer used or needed assets such as equipment, furniture and supplies.
  • Conducting an employee recognition program for cost saving suggestions.
  • Organizing District-wide fundraisers and events.
  • Encouraging and soliciting community and corporate donations of services where gaps and needs exist.
  • Partnering with community organizations such as the Marlton Business Association and the rotary club to promote and sponsor events and fundraisers.
  • By establishing rotating “adopt-a-school programs” and sponsorships with local businesses and organizations.
  • Utilizing technology to implement cost-efficient and energy-efficient green initiatives across the deistrict.

Joe Fisicaro

Question 1:

First we need to do the basics like maximizing our use of biodegradable and renewable products wherever possible. We also need to be more conscientious about get the most out of recycled materials in the district, and promoting a stronger district wide recycling initiative in the buildings.

However, the best way for Evesham District to go ‘green’ would be to invest in solar paneling. In the last few years, the state of New Jersey has led the nation in installation of solar paneling, many districts around the state have already begun to reap the environmental and economical benefits of energy independence. Solar paneling will allow our district to become energy independent, save us, in the long term, millions in energy bills, and allow us to invest our tax dollars into our children and even give tax relief to those who need it. Solar paneling is a short term cost, but with patience it is a lasting investment which will give back to the community in both dollars and sense.

Question 2:

Increasing school district revenue is a tough task. Boards over the years have wrestled with increasing revenue all over the country. Marketing is a small solution, which will add in a couple of dollars to our budget, but alone it isn’t enough. In the past, we’ve attempted lobbying the state for more state aid, green initiatives to allow our board to go paperless, and as always, cost cutting procedures.

We can create revenue through shared services with different governmental partnerships in the township, Lenape Regional School District, local fire and police authorities, and the MUA. Other cost cutting measures, like working with the state to end costly regulations, for example eliminating costly annual and semi-annual reports that can be done electronically. Also, creating working partnerships between individual schools and local businesses is another way to increase revenue.

Finally, the investment of solar paneling will ultimately increase our district’s revenue as well as making the district energy independent.

Trish Everhart

Question 1:

Educate and engage students. This is our school district’s number one role in going “green”: change the mindset and behavior of the next generation. Our schools teach students about global warming, climate change, renewable energy resources (and all of the exciting technologies utilizing these), recycling of wastes and water and about green buildings. We have grown gardens, and installed ponds and integrated gardening into the curriculum. School gardens and ponds give our students a wonderful outdoor botany laboratory, as well as practical education in sustainable environments, local growing seasons and pond organisms and maintenance.

It is my vision that Evesham Township School District advances to Green Ribbon school status with performance related to our reduction of environmental impact and energy efficiency, improvements to health and wellness, and environmental/sustainability education. National studies and existing green schools programs have linked utility savings to schools’ cost savings; school environmental health to student and staff productivity; student wellness to higher achievement; environmental education to increased student engagement, improved student performance, enhanced critical thinking and reduced behavioral problems.

I strongly believe that going “green” not only lessens the environmental impact of our schools by decreasing their burden on our natural resources, but it keeps some “green” in our pocket by cutting waste. Our schools current green initiatives are reducing their carbon footprint on the environment.

The district has been utilizing energy efficiency methods (lighting retrofits); installing solar panels (PPA); reducing paper consumption (paperless board meetings; several of our PTA’s/PTO’s utilize Facebook for their school communities); participating in shared services (with all local municipalities’ agencies); and initializing composting at each of our nine schools. ETSD is the first district in Burlington County to do composting. The dollar savings realized by the district through these initiatives can be redirected to the students, staff and our educational programs.

ETSD seeks new and innovative practices and programs under which energy monies are saved and returned to other areas of the district’s operating budget, funding programs, or staff that might otherwise be subject to cuts. For ETSD, this is not an additional or new set of priorities, but links together with our current programs and goals.

I endorse Green Ribbon school status as the initiative that sets the bar high for our schools; to incentivize our schools as those already on the road to achieving high standards; and to better propel us toward providing a healthy, sustainable education to our students.

Question 2:

Evesham Township School District has been cultivating new and exciting revenue generating relationships for the benefit of the school community, which I have actively supported.

Recently, fellow board members and I granted approval to Advantage3, a company specializing in corporate sponsorship opportunities, to develop commercial advertising on our district website and buses, while not looking to be advertising in the schools directly. Revenue generated from advertising grows exponentially. It is anticipated that the website advertising benefits will happen quickly generating an immediate form of revenue, allowing us to maintain our educational priorities while offering businesses a give back to our school community.

We purchased a GPS program for our transportation department. By streamlining our routes effectively utilizing this technology, significant cost savings were realized enabling the district to reallocate these monies to offset the costs of our after-school clubs and activities fees.

I am a strong believer in shared services with our local municipalities and other entities, which have had a positive impact for the district.

I supported the district as we began as the first district to implement composting at our nine schools. The cost savings through the reduction of trash pickup and tonnage has us moving in a positive “green” direction.

Professional development opportunities solicited by to other districts who are interested in the training provided by our excellent teaching staff has resulted in a growing revenue stream back to the district.

Our generous PTA/PTO’s have cultivated many revenue-generating opportunities. As the board liaison to these entities, I have heard firsthand how through their dedication and hard work from private fundraising opportunities and donations, they have been able to purchase multiple Active Boards and supporting technology for the children.

I have been a part of enhancing our relationship with the Evesham Education Foundation, which allows us to legally solicit funds while supporting programs benefiting the school community (CAPPS and Genesis). The EEF affords us the opportunity to utilize these monies generated offering us a valuable alternate revenue source.

While encouraging the exploration of creative revenue generating measures, I believe that the integrity of the school environment must be preserved. Moving forward, I am always open to cost saving initiatives to be carefully reviewed and analyzed for their benefits while remaining fiscally responsible without impacting the quality of the education we provide to our students.

Kevin Stone

Question 1:

It is important for our district to save money and educate our children about the importance of being green. Our district has been moving in the right direction with the addition of solar panels on some of the schools. The Evesham district has to attempt to save taxpayer dollars and reduce its impact on the environment. Furthermore, the district should continue to look into the procurement of goods and services that have a reduced impact on human health and the environment as compared to other goods and services serving the same purpose.

Research shows that some of the benefits of green initiatives include:

  • · reducing overall consumption
  • · increasing renewable, recycled, recyclable, and biodegradable products
  • · promoting long-lasting, high quality, reusable products
  • · creating an outlet for collected recycled material
  • · decreasing greenhouse gas emissions
  • · conserving water and energy
  • · increasing the market for green products
  • · reducing the presence of toxic and hazardous materials in schools
  • · improving environmental health
  • · taking up less room in landfills

Some say that the perception is that green means more expensive. Actually, in many cases, green initiatives can also save money, protect students and staff and reduce liability. It is something schools everywhere should care about.

We should encourage all members of the school community including parents, students, staff and school board members to join a Green Schools Committee. As part of the education process, you have an opportunity to play a unique role in enacting significant positive environmental and educational change in our schools and throughout our community.

At other schools, their committee works to adopt green practices such as reducing waste, using eco-friendly products, implementing energy saving initiatives and recycling. Going green means saving money, using energy, fuel and other resources wisely, reducing our dependence on foreign oil, and reducing our impact on the environment. All this is to ensure the future health and safety of our children.

Question 2:

Too often, districts try to fix their budget shortfalls with layoffs, but that may not always be the answer. There comes a point where the district just cannot lay off any more employees without sacrificing the quality of our children’s education. I believe that my business experience will be a great asset as a board member. My 18 years of experience in business for myself includes staff management, purchasing, inventory management, cost management, sales forecasting and budgets. School board members should approach spending much like a business. When you are a small business owner, as I am, every dollar counts as you cannot just raise taxes when you have a shortfall. Every school district needs to think broadly, creatively and entrepreneurially about how to generate income and reevaluate their revenue streams. Effective district organization and management is measured by how the school board and superintendent function as a leadership team to meet student and staff needs.

  • · Provide online professional development to reduce travel costs.
  • · Provide incentives to encourage employee attendance and decrease the academic and financial costs associated with the use of substitutes. Successfully implement financial awards for perfect attendance. Awards would be issued biannually and the amounts would differ based on employee job classification.
  • · Possibly refinance bonds at lower interest rates.
  • · Conduct a physical inventory of district assets on a regular basis by:

Using bar code technology that the district already possesses to maintain accurate records of district assets, minimizing administrative efforts as well as losses.

  • · Effective transportation services:

Address factors such as bus replacement, vehicle maintenance programs, driver recruitment and training, driver and passenger safety, service evaluation, and purchasing procedures.

  • · Develop a preventive maintenance plan to manage maintenance costs. Inspection, adjustment and/or replacement of items on a regular schedule can extend the useful life of facilities and critical
  • ·Develop guidelines of rental fees for district facilities, i.e.: renting of fields for adult sporting functions or Adult education classes to be held in our schools at night from local colleges and universities.
  • · Implement planning processes district wide to determine long-range fiscal needs.

Areas of importance with regard to planning include:

 District Improvement Plan

 Campus Improvement and facilities Master Plan

 Space Utilization Plan

 Preventive and Deferred Maintenance Plan

 Long-Range Technology Plan and a replacement Plan

  • · Manage the sale of unused assets and surplus goods and moving the Administration

Address the possibility of moving the administration from their current building to the unused purple hall in Marlton Middle School, which could potentially save the district over $200,000 per year. At that point the district could explore leasing the building for a substantial profit, until such time as the real estate market rebounds and ultimately place the building up for sale.

  • Paperless communication between schools and parents reduces the paper costs for a school, which benefits both pocketbooks and the environment. Communication with parents would be easy and would provide parents with everything they need to know about the school and their children. Always being aware of their children’s current grades. And no more lost notes, forgotten homework, phone tag, or end-of-period grade “surprises.”

The Sun asked the Lenape Regional High School District Marlton candidates for board of education the following questions:

Question 1: In what ways will you look to save money within the district?

Question 2: How will you help stop bullying around the schools? Is there anything else you think may help prevent future problems?

Candidates answered to the best of their ability, and their solutions to the questions if they were to serve on the school board.

Barry Fitzgerald

Question 1:

I will work with the administration and the other board members to find shared service opportunities with all the towns within the Lenape Regional district. Another way the district can save money, is by continuing to find green initiatives to lower the utility bills.

Question 2:

After hearing the District Security and Emergency Management semi-annual presentation, it was great to hear that we have a very low amount of reported bullying incidents in the district. This doesn’t mean there are incidents that aren’t reported so the district has started the “no place for hate” program. This program will discuss the issues of bullying through discussions and presentations. I will continue to work with the district to come up with great programs to keep the bullying issue in the minds of the students that it is something that needs to stop in our schools.

Joanne Sanferraro

Question 1:

State aid is $28 million out of $135 million operating budget so the majority of the revenue source is property taxes.

I would look for more “shared services” with the local districts and municipalities. For example, Cherokee and Marlton Middle school are next to each other, any opportunity to share grounds keeping, snow removal or trash collection with the Evesham K through 8 district or Evesham municipal government.

Form new partnerships — for example, with BCC to utilize Cherokee as a satellite center for evening and summer school. Look into renting out space for training.

Look into school bus and website advertising. The local Evesham K through 8 district just approved a contract with Advantage3. Perhaps there would be an opportunity to utilize the local district’s partnership for some synergy at the high school level.

Question 2:

The Lenape District has an excellent and thorough policy on bullying. The policy needs to detail specific examples on implementation. For example: classroom discussions, administrators getting involved, small group counseling, promoting essay contests that would bring awareness to the situation.