Perth Amboy Citizens Release Survey Results

By Isa Shaida

The “Empowering Perth Amboy Parents & Students” conference hosted by The Citizens Campaign earlier this year surfaced important issues in the City’s Student School Code of Conduct. Fast forward nearly six months later, much progress has been achieved through the support of the community.

The Citizens Campaign’s Perth Amboy Education Task Force initiated a survey to receive feedback from the community using a five question multiple choice survey on school disciple practices. The survey used “restorative justice” and “positive behavioral intervention” models used in the Baltimore School Code of Conduct, which may be addressed at the annual CSC Committee Review.

The five top behavioral issues include:

  • Tardiness
  • Violating School Uniform Policy
  • Cell Phone Use
  • Disruptive Behavior
  • Violet/ Aggressive Behavior

The goal of creating a community code of excellence is to set a community standard for dealing with the most common in-school misbehavior’s such as bringing a cell phone on school property, not wearing the school uniform, or getting into an altercation with another student. Currently, The Perth Amboy School District is reviewing its Code of Student Conduct.

Various agencies including, Raritan Bay Area YMCA, the Puerto Rican Association for Human Development, and the Jewish Renaissance Medical Center participated in the distribution of the surveys. Vanessa Mendez-Gamez, an Outreach Ambassador and Director of Strategic Initiatives at Tropical Cheese Industries, spread the word by placing paper surveys in the lunchroom to an estimated 300 employees, most of which are Perth Amboy residents. “Being that Tropical Cheese Industries is one of the largest employers of the city of Perth Amboy, we are delighted that we have been able to assist in such an important movement and we look forward to assisting the Citizens Campaign in future initiatives.”

More then 450 paper surveys were submitted, compared to the 38 online responses, most of which were Perth Amboy parents/guardians and community members. An interesting 16% of respondents submitted feedback were non-residents of Perth Amboy. The majority of the respondents aligned with the Baltimore “Positive” School Code of Conduct Model. 81% surveyors agreed that positive behavioral intervention such as in-class time out to speak on issues that may be bothering a student is a better approach for disruptive / disrespectful behavior rather then in school suspension.

A public presentation will be made by the Perth Amboy Education Task Force at the upcoming Board of Education Meeting on November 20. A resolution was prepared by The Citizens Campaign’s Legal Task Force using citizens’ feedback to provide a plan for obtaining community input, establish of a Code of Student Conduct Review Committee; and create a process for training school personnel on the code annually.

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Celebrating Perth Amboy’s Rich History

perthamboybillofrights

Did you know the Bill of Rights was first signed in Perth Amboy, New Jersey?

That’s right, Perth Amboy City Hall is the birth place of the Bill of Rights!

To celebrate this fact and the extensive history of our beloved City by the Bay – the City is hosting a number of events on Veteran’s Day.

Come celebrate!

Veteran’s Day Ceremony • 11 a.m. • Sadowski Parkway
Bill of Rights Reenactment • 12 noon • Commemorative Arch
Bill of Rights on Display • 12-4:30 p.m.• City Hall, 260 High St. Perth Amboy, NJ

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NJ Spotlight Election Map

electionmap

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IMG_6397Perth Amboy resident Greg Bender wrote a blog post for the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation to share all our accomplishments.

Check it out here: http://blog.grdodge.org/2014/09/15/citizen-campaign-working-to-build-a-new-perth-amboy/

 

 

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Help for Willow Pond?

Submitted a Perth Amboy resident.

Ask any resident of Perth Amboy for directions to Willow Pond, and the likely response will be a blank stare. Tucked away behind a strip of fast food outlets, convenience stores, and ball fields, Willow Pond remains a well-kept secret—a quiet urban oasis, known only to a lucky few.

perth amboy pond 1

perth amboy pond 2perth amboy pond 3

 

 

 

Still, the pond could get a bit more attention soon, because its long-term survival might be at stake. Saved by activists from development in the 1980s, then cleaned of debris and used as an outdoor ecology classroom by Perth Amboy students, the pond was once a healthy freshwater wetland—a stopover for migrating birds and home to several species of freshwater fish. But after several years without proper maintenance, the pond’s waters are lifeless and its shoreline is now choked with vegetation (see above photos).

perth amboy pond 4One big culprit at Willow Pond is a tall reed named phragmites. The plant is a hardy grass that often grows nine feet tall or more. It has aggressively taken over the shores of Willow Pond, forming a dense mat of vegetation that crowds out most other plants and obscures the view of the pond. As the reeds die in ponds such as this, the huge mass of decaying plant matter in the pond feeds the growth of bacteria, which use up the pond’s supply of dissolved oxygen. Eventually, the oxygen-poor environment can no longer support fish—or even the bacteria that created it. Left on its own, the pond will continue to infill with growing phragmites, sediment, and dead plant matter.

perth amboy pond 5Several members of Perth Amboy’s “Green Team” visited Willow Pond recently to observe the pond’s condition. Some members of the Perth Amboy community are already having  conversation with various stakeholders that will hopefully lead to action to rehabilitate the pond, Perth Amboy’s only freshwater ecosystem.  Returning the pond to a healthy state would also make it available again as an outdoor classroom.

The first step is to raise money to begin work on the pond. It will take an estimated $5,000 to have the phragmites cleared from much of the pond’s shoreline, and to have the pond’s aerators fixed so that higher levels of oxygen can return to the pond’s waters, making Willow Pond a suitable habitat for fish onc  e more.  With time—and a lot of hard work—this hidden gem in Perth Amboy could thrive again.

 

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Creating a Community Code of Excellence – Deadline Postponed

take_survey

UPDATE: Survey responses due Friday, September 5

Residents, teachers, business owners and others who live or work in Perth Amboy are encouraged to complete the Community Code of Excellence Survey to provide feedback on how the district should handle certain student misbehaviors in school. The goal is to set a community standard for dealing with the most common in-school misbehaviors such as bringing a cell phone on school property, not wearing the school uniform, or getting into an altercation with another student. The School District is currently reviewing its Code of Student Conduct. Survey responses will be collected until August 29 September 5, the survey results will then be forwarded to school district.

Take the Survey Now!

TAKE THE SURVEY IN PERSON:

Surveys are available at designated locations throughout the city, including the Raritan Bay Area YMCA, JR Medical Center, Alexander F. Janowski Community Center, Catholic Charities, the City’s Recreation Department on Olive Street, Perth Amboy Public Library/Brighton Ave Community Center and the Puerto Rican Assoc for Human Development of 100 First Street. 

Catholic Charities

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Impacting Arts & Economic Development

photo 9By Greg Bender

At the Bay City General Stakeholder Summer Meeting at the Perth Amboy ZPA Hall on 7/31/2014, I gave an update on the recent accomplishments of the Perth Amboy Creative Team.  The team is an advisory board of citizens interested in promoting the advancement of the Arts in Perth Amboy, and it has been working hard over the past several months to put in place the foundation for developing a thriving Arts community in the city. The team has worked hard and, under the guidance of Leo Vazquez, from the National Consortium for Creative Placemaking, it has put together a series of valuable accomplishments:

  • The team established Taskforces for initiatives in Music, Murals, Communications and Arts Ordinances and will be establishing another to study the creation of a Perth Amboy Arts District.
  • The team developed an Arts Council Ordinance which was unanimously adopted by the Perth Amboy City Council on June 25th. Appointments to the council are expected in August.
  • The team’s Murals taskforce has developed a Murals Ordinance draft which will be submitted to the City Council when it is complete. The Ordinance sets the requirements for proposing and getting approval for murals on both public and private property; it includes a process for community engagement and review, producing mural drawings and getting property owner approvals.  Final approval of the proposals would be by the City Council.
  • The team conducted a Creative Placemaking study which identified locations in Perth Amboy where arts activities were currently being worked, locations where their were opportunities for expanded arts activities and locations suitable for outdoor art.  A public presentation of the final report is planned for the fall.  The Creative Placemaking Mapping plan is expected to be a valuable tool for economic development, zoning and the establishment of an Arts District.

The team’s activities, in addition to walking and surveying the City for the Creative Placemaking exercise, included comparing similar initiatives in Rahway, Bound Brook, Metuchen and Carteret.  The past mayor of Rahway, James Kennedy, spoke to the team about the close relationship between the Arts and economic development and provided examples of his experiences in Rahway. People interested in the Arts, including Music, Dance, Visual Arts and Theater Arts, as well as people who are interested helping to build a thriving arts community in Perth Amboy, are invited and encouraged to join the team, come to our meetings and help whatever taskforce you are interested in.

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