“We want our teachers taken care of”

Posted: November 9, 2011 by vindanton in Franklin Twp.

Citizens of Franklin Township make noise at Delsea Board of Education meeting

By Vin D’Anton – Rowan University

Franklinville, NJ – “Education is the heart of this community…our kids are not where they are now without their teachers…because of our governor, teachers are public enemy number one…it’s been two years and it’s time to step up.” Those are just a small portion of the comments made by the citizens of Franklin Township at the Delsea Board of Education meeting at Delsea Regional Middle School media center on Wednesday evening.

“It’s been two years now that our teachers have been working without a contract; it is time to get a deal done…education is not just a part of our community, it is the heart of our community,” Christine Onorato said, a citizen who opened up the citizen speaking part of the meeting. Onorato, along with other citizens, made it clear how important and phenomenal the teaching has been at Delsea schools. Some boasted about what their children have become, and what they are becoming.

Mario Christina, the Delsea Board of Education president, made his message clear to the audience, pointing out that there are 5,834 residents and that they need to be taken care of; the taxpayers need to be taken care of. The township looks after the people first. Also, Christina try to get a point across  about the taxpayers (and there were about 100 of these tax payers in the room) not wanting to pay extra to support the teachers.

“The main thing I think is the fact that taxpayers are reluctant to pay a little more money,” Christina said. Schools in general have lost a lot of aid and Delsea lost two and a half million. “We don’t have money to just throw around no more…people are hurting, and we have to come up with something that is fair and equitable for both parties,” Christina said.

Christina said in his comments after the citizens spoke that every aspect of the deal is done, except the money part. One thing that stood out though, and the public had no rebuttal for this, was the question of whether or not the taxpayers are willing to step up, more than just verbally. “I believe that when they (the teachers) seek support from the community, and they’ll get that support, but the pressure of that support can’t make us make decisions that aren’t good for the community and it’s fifty eight hundred plus residents,” Christina said.

One thing that has been eliminated due to cuts is clubs and sports, and Delsea is known for its sports with multiple state championships in high school football and individual champions in wrestling. One of the big reasons why is their feeder programs in the middle school, which is losing programs due to cuts.

Sports hold close to Delsea High School Principal Paul Berardelli, who played for the Philadelphia Eagles at one point and worries about losing sports programs. “It’s a tremendous concern, not only for myself, but principals all over this area. Athletics and extracurricular activities kind of bind and tie schools together with a sense of pride and a sense of unity. Without those programs, I think a lot of schools see their academic programs start to drop,” Berardelli said.

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