School districts have been hit hard by cuts in aid at the state and federal levels, and Egg Harbor Township is no exception - and the township's burgeoning population doesn't help.

Looking for a new avenue to generate funds for projects not addressed in its budgets, the district in 2006 established the Community Partnership for Egg Harbor Township Schools, a fundraising group that brings together the board, district employees and families.

"These have been difficult times for the district over the past many years, but there was no group out there specifically seeking private funding to help the district, so that was the idea behind it," said Pete Castellano, a founder and former president of the group. "We've been going since 2006, we've done a lot of good things."

On Oct. 9, the Community Partnership was recognized by the district Board of Education for its latest donation of more than $35,000 for upgrades to the high school's television studio as well as the purchase of three new high-definition digital cameras.

Since its inception, the Community Partnership has donated tens of thousands of dollars each year to finance projects including the LED marquee sign at the corner of English Creek Avenue and High School Drive, the installation of playgrounds at the Slaybaugh and Davenport Elementary school complexes, and the purchase of a Steinway grand piano for the EHTHS Performing Arts Center.

The Community Partnership raises funds through several events spread throughout the year, such as dinners, wine tastings, student showcases and more, Castellano said.

"We've been doing various fundraisers, dress-down days at school, where our teaching will all help us out, kick in a little bit," Castellano said. "We've had several kinds, we've had concerts, when we donated the grand piano we had a concert and we featured all of our outstanding students."

The Community Partnership works in conjunction with the school board, Castellano said, to identify needs that are not addressed by the school budget.

Each year, the leadership of the partnership opens a dialogue with the board asking how best it can allocate its funds. Often, as was the case with the television studio upgrade, the funds are used to cover projects cut from the budgets. The Community Partnership's next project, Castellano said, will be to improve classroom technology at the elementary and middle school levels.

The partership has been highly successful in its six years, due largely to the fact the community it relies on understands the importance of the projects it supports, said Lou DeScioli, a community partnership board member and past president.

"I believe the people who are giving understand the need," DeScioli said. "Usually, when people understand there is a need, they're willing to stick their hands in the pot and help out. It's not extra stuff we're doing, it's stuff that would enhance the educational experience of Egg Harbor Township schools' students, and I think that resonates with donors."

For more information on the Community Partnership for Egg Harbor Township Schools, call 609-646-8441, ext. 1017 or see Email inquiries can be sent to

Contact Braden Campbell: