GTPS BOE discusses public communication, roofing projects

An upcoming survey for school staff, parents and community members is expected to be launched shortly after Thanksgiving

The Gloucester Township Public Schools board of education discussed the completion of the Union Valley Elementary School roof project at its meeting earlier this week. Above is the roof from January of this year, before work, and from this November, after the project was complete.

Gloucester Township Public Schools Board of Education met Monday, Nov. 18, at Charles W. Lewis Middle School for its monthly meeting, discussing the completion of the roofing project at Union Valley Elementary School while also introducing the district’s communications planning process.

At the meeting, superintendent John Bilodeau reminded residents during his report that the board of education reviewed and created its own district and board goals over the summer, picking certain achievements it would like to be able to reach.

According to Bilodeau, those goals included supporting “the district in enhancing communications with the community,” as well as possibly creating some sort of social media presence so as to better engage the public and receive potential feedback.

Bilodeau said in an interview after the meeting that the board expressed interest in pursuing such goals after seeing that other area school district board of educations have a social media presence and have enhanced their forms of communication with the public in recent years.

“The board is considerate that there are people that communicate very differently with their cell phone now,” Bilodeau said. “The board is trying to change to the more modern times and this is another avenue for them to do it.”

Communications Manager Lori Perlow with the Camden County Educational Services Commission addressed the board and community during the meeting, explaining the process of how it plans to gather data and information about what actions the district should take.

Over the next few months, the commission will work toward one ultimate goal for Gloucester Township Public Schools.

“The goal is to develop a comprehensive Communications Action Plan for the district,” Perlow said. “Which is typically what I would recommend to any district that does not have a communications person on staff, yet wants to enhance their communications.”

After officially announcing the goal at the meeting, the timeline next includes launching an online communications survey for staff, parents and community members to answer, according to Perlow. Questions are expected to vary depending on the specific stakeholder group taking the survey.

According to Perlow, the survey is expected to launch the Monday after Thanksgiving on Dec. 2, and remain available to participants for approximately two weeks.

The commission will review the survey data in order to create focus group questions, which will then be conducted in January “with a variety of internal and external stakeholders,” which she said often helps develop the most valuable information.

After reviewing both the survey and focus group data, Perlow says the commission anticipates being able to present a Communications Action Plan sometime in March.

Also at the meeting, Bilodeau discussed the completion of the Union Valley Elementary School roofing project, which was finished sometime last month. According to Bilodeau, the new, light blue roof cost an estimated $2.7 million.

The approximately 100,000 sq. foot roof was installed from mid-June to mid-October, with work extending into the school year due to a “fairly late start,” according to Bilodeau. Despite this, Bilodeau said the school did not receive any staff or parent complaints due to the roofing project stretching into the school year, and instead commended the school’s work in completing the project.

With the completion of the Union Valley roof, along with Gloucester Township Elementary School’s roof replacement, which also took place this past summer, Bilodeau said 10 of the 11 school building roofs have been replaced, with warranties, since 2007. Bilodeau said he hopes to be able to replace Glendora Elementary School’s roof, possibly this summer.

Although such a project for Glendora has not yet been approved by the board, Bilodeau said in an interview with The Sun after the meeting that it is his intent to get the project approved in the upcoming months. He estimates it may cost similar to what the Gloucester Township Elementary School roofing project did – approximately $250,000 – although the project has not yet been approved or put out for bid.