"We've tried to do a lot of different things," said the PTO President Liz Geron last week. "We're trying to do positive things that will promote the self esteem and pride in the children and get the parents more involved in the children's activities."
Last week, the PTO made presentations at the Board of Education meeting of $10 Barnes and Noble gift certificates to 52 students who won in the school's Geography Bee, Spelling Bee, Science Fair and Art Exhibition.
Geron said she meets regularly with Vice President Paula Lenahan and Treasurer Rebecca Vasques-Colon to discuss other ways to improve the quality of life for the students of the school.
Their latest brainstorm is a street fair that the organization would like to hold on Hudson Avenue on Saturday, June 16, from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m., where there would be games of chance, food tents and display tables.
But according to Town Clerk Linda Martin, an ordinance does not exist in the town to hold events of that variety. "The town has never adopted the ordinance that calls for games of chance, raffles, 50/50s, bingo, carnivals and door-to-door solicitation," Martin said. "For some reason, the town never chose to adopt the ordinance. So when the PTO came in looking for a permit, I couldn't give them one, because there isn't one. I suggested to her [Geron] that she could do something on school property, like in the schoolyard, but she was insistent on having it on the street. It can't be done."
Martin suggested that Geron file a petition with the town and then put the referendum allowing such events to be on the voting ballot in November. But that will not solve the immediate problem in time for the scheduled street fair.
"I remember about five years ago that the fire department did something for fire prevention and the street was closed off," Geron said. "But now I hear that I would need a gambling license and there are insurance issues. We're getting hit with a lot of obstacles. I have the support of a lot of people who are for it. I have everything all set and ready to go."
Geron said that she spoke with Mayor Robert Sabello about the possibility of the street fair and he was all for it. She also spoke with Public Safety Director Tom Richards, who expressed his concerns about closing off the street for the entire day because some residents have garages on the block that would be inaccessible for the day. "But I have signatures on the petition from seven of the eight residents who have garages on Hudson Avenue," Geron said. "They had no problem in signing it."
Geron said that she has more than 150 names on the petition and hopes that she can present the petition to the Board of Education and the Township Council in special caucuses. However, for the event to take place, legislation would have to be introduced, which doesn't appear likely until the general election in November. Dr. Richard Penna, the superintendent of schools for the district, said that he supports the idea of a street fair. "I would like to see a street fair, but I also understand that the town has rules and regulations that have to be followed," Penna said. "We'll do what we're told to do. I always support my PTO and their efforts to help our students. If we're not permitted to do so this year, then we can see how it can be considered in future years. We have an excellent, hard-working PTO, a sincere group of individuals who have only the good of the children in their hearts."
Martin said that she feels badly about the situation as well. "I don't want to do anything that will hurt the children," Martin said, "but allowing it would be illegal."
"I didn't think there would be so many problems," Geron said. "We just want to do whatever we can to help the kids."
Geron said that the next goal of the organization is to improve the school's library, both the content and d