WOOLWICH TWP. — On Sept. 25, the Kingsway District had the honor of recognizing a number of key officials who played integral roles in the advocacy of fair school funding as well as the sponsorship and passing of legislation.
Afterward the District introduced more than 40 new teachers and employees, most of whom were hired as a result of the additional $2.129 million dollars our district received this year.
Standing with Kingsway Superintendent Dr. James Lavender at the podium were several students, most of whom had testified at an Assembly and/or Senate Hearing over the years, and represented the nearly 7,000 students from the Borough of Swedesboro and Townships of East Greenwich, South Harrison, Logan and Woolwich who become the ultimate benefactors of what was accomplished with the passing of Senate Bill 2. “Having them join me at the podium tonight is a reminder of why we fought so hard, for so long,” said Lavender.
The students, led by seniors Jackie Repp and Maddie Collins, thanked State Senator Stephen Sweeney and the Board of Education for ensuring that they would have the resources moving forward, awarding them “Once a Dragon, Always a Dragon” t-shirts, symbolizing their status as honorary alumni.
Lavender served as emcee for the event and opened with a reflection of what he and members of the Fair Funding Action Committee accomplished over their decade-long fight.
“I am proud to say that Kingsway has been fortunate to have pulled together a core-group of passionate members of our community to tirelessly and persistently advocate for our schools to receive the state aid our growing districts have been promised since 2008, when the School Funding Reform Act (SFRA) was first adopted,” Lavender stated.
“When I first testified before the State Assembly in 2010, seeking a solution to the school funding injustices negatively impacting our schools, I never imagined that our community’s political voice would eventually connect with similar voices throughout New Jersey to create a formidable political movement. A movement influential enough to unseat an assembly speaker, to shut down a state government, to redirect a new governor’s agenda and to make Kingsway’s name synonymous with school funding advocacy.
“As a result of our collective efforts, Governor Murphy signed a new law, a law sponsored by Senate President Sweeney, to modernize the school funding formula on Tuesday, July 24th, ensuring Kingsway, and hundreds of districts like Kingsway, will receive the state aid it rightfully deserves!
“Perhaps author Margaret Mead said it best, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
Lavender stated that on behalf of our Board of Education, he wants to extend his deepest appreciation to the many men, women and students who have given so much of their personal time and energy over the years to attend public meetings, to call elected officials, to testify at state-wide hearings, and more.
Afterwards, the District called several prominent and key officials to the podium to accept a Distinguished Service Award, the District’s highest honor. The following individuals were recognized with Distinguished Service Awards, the District’s highest award.
- Stephen M. Sweeney, Senate President
- John Burzichelli, NJ State Assembly
- Adam Taliaferro, NJ State Assembly
- Tom Fromm, Mayor of Swedesboro
- Jim Mueller, Kingsway Board of Education President
- Jennifer Cavallaro-Fromm, BOE
- Michele Blair, BOE
- Mia Randazzo, BOE
- James J. Lavender, Superintendent
Sweeney and Cavallaro-Fromm both had scholarships named after them, courtesy of the Kingsway Regional Board of Education and Kingsway Education Foundation. These scholarships, the Senate President Stephen M. Sweeney Public Service Award and the Jennifer Cavallaro-Fromm Impact Award, will be awarded to high school seniors annually.