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Sandy Shuffles Haddonfield School Schedule

Makeup days and Bancroft referendum pace the Haddonfield school board meeting.

Haddonfield students will have to make up two out of three school days lost to power outages and downed trees during Superstorm Sandy. The school district already has one extra day built in to the school calendar so students and teachers will only be required to make up two of the three days missed during the aftermath of the storm.

The February break over Presidents Day weekend will be shortened by one day with students back to school on Tuesday, Feb. 19. Spring break will also be shortened by one day with students returning to school on Monday, April 1.

Special board meeting Nov. 27

The board will hold a special meeting on Nov. 27 at 7:30 p.m. in the high school library to discuss the wording on the bond referendum for the Bancroft initiative. The public is encouraged to attend.

Recently, a group called Haddonfield United launched a “Vote No” campaign on its Facebook page to rouse public support against the purchase of the Bancroft property. School Superintendent Richard Perry said he is unfamiliar with the group's stance on the Bancroft initiative.

But, Perry said, "Once the Bancroft property is lost, it is lost." 

"The district is making the decision to pursue the Bancroft property based on that tradition for current and future residents to enjoy Haddonfield as we know it," Perry said. "In terms of education and the community, the Bancroft property backs directly to the high school. If the property goes to a developer, there will be a negative effect on both the high school and the community. Perry believes this as an opportunity to benefit us in the future in many ways."

Finance

Dennis Kelleher reported that a formal report of the district audit will be presented at the Dec. 13 BOE meeting. The district received notice of new rates for health insurance. A 14.5 percent increase was more than the 10 percent increase the district had budgeted. The district will make up the 4.5 percent difference with cost savings from teacher contributions and changes in the statewide opt out process.

Tuition students

Tuition students for grades six through 12 account for 3.2 percent of total enrollment. Board member Joe Ehrhardt reported that his committee is working on ways to market the tuition program while maintaining an optimal class size at the high school.

The district had to close the number of tuition students in the current freshman class. Ehrhardt said, “It looks like we will have to close it again this year if the open house is any indication.” Tuition students are on a first come, first served “selective” basis, which depends on an interview with administrators to determine if the student will be a good fit. A student can be admitted but must make a $500 deposition to guarantee a spot. Once a tuition student is accepted, the district will guarantee a spot for that student throughout high school.

Jack S November 17, 2012 at 12:26 AM
If the Borough and Board's coffers were flush with surplus cash, Mr. Perry's concern about the Bancroft property going to developers might be worth examining. But in a recessionary economy, Haddonfield doesn't have the luxury spending an additional $16,800,000.00 to bank property. The increasing delinquency among Haddonfield residents in paying their property taxes, which Commissioner Kasko described in Patch earlier this year as "sobering," makes it clear that many residents are struggling to afford their existing property taxes, without the added burden of purchasing Bancroft. The Borough and School Board need to stick to necessary expenditures and not increase taxes to pay for things that would be nice to have, if money were no object. Money will continue to be an object for many, many years to come.
Taxpayer November 17, 2012 at 03:01 AM
What about all the multimillions in grant money that was supposed to reduce the referendum total? Just don't see enough effort yet from our borough and BOE to make this a bargain for taxpayers.
Jack S November 17, 2012 at 04:16 AM
Even if the town gets the $3.5 millions in grants it has identified, the purchase price would still not be a "bargain." The $12.2 million purchase price overstates the value of the property by $4 - $5 million, so $3.5 million in grants would still not bring the price down to a market level. Grants -- which are taxpayer money too -- should not be frittered away in an attempt to justify an excessive purchase price. Plus, the $16.8 million allocated for this purchase reflects an incomplete plan, and it does not begin to cover the additional millions that local officials will seek from Haddonfield residents at a later date to develop the property for an educational campus, etc.
Bill Tourtellotte November 17, 2012 at 01:24 PM
Fretting about future costs is not a reasonable endeavor at this time particularly in light of the fact that just like with any bond endeavor, it will be entirely up to the voters at that time. If additional facilities are needed in the future and we DON'T have the relatively cheap Bancroft land, the alternatives and costs will be dramatically higher due to the need to take improved properties through eminent domain. This is not a theoretical point being made and it did in fact happen that way right here a few decades ago when several homes along Sylvan Lake Avenue had to be purchased by us in order to build the C wing at HMHS. Land locking our town's primary campus when a relatively cheap opportunity to avoid that exists would be short sighted and represent a failure to exercise good foresight and vision by residents. Further, while Haddonfield may not need a superior campus and grounds than our peer group, why should we continue to be among the worst in that regard? This is anything but an extravagance, it's about finally providing a reasonable opportunity to have a self contained and safe location for educational and athletic activities in one place that is at least on par with what other communities provide. Why should we continue to be significantly inferior in that regard and how is that a reasonable position? We are blessed that our district performs so well despite the weak infrastructure we provide.
Bill Tourtellotte November 17, 2012 at 01:25 PM
We continue to be a desirable community for families to settle in but should not take our position for granted and always look to solidify it, particularly when such a rare, once in a lifetime opportunity such as this exists.
Jack S November 17, 2012 at 03:51 PM
Paying $10 for a Big Mac, and getting $2 or $3 in coupons (i.e., grants), is still paying too much for a Big Mac. If the Board/Borough is willing to overpay for the property in the first instance, I'm certainly not going to take it on faith that they will not plow millions more, above and beyond the $16.8 million, if residents approve this purchase.
Brian Kelly November 17, 2012 at 05:27 PM
If Bancroft were never up for sale we would take care of business just as we always have. There wouldn't be discussions about needed land for student growth when we have fewer students than in previous years, we wouldn't be told silly things like kids need a sports campus because they're dangerously overcrowded in their cars when they drive 1 mile at 25mph to Radnor field. We wouldn't have borough officials sitting on grants for months because they're trying to get around the stipulations that come with them and giving us a different story. We wouldn't have the turf committee using the Alumni association to sell their turf fields which will only benefit a tiny march of students at the eternal cost of the taxpayers. We wouldn't have people refusing to take the financial burden of their fellow residents into account. We wouldn't ask people to pay huge tax increases that could force them out of the town they cherish so someone who never lived here can stay in affordable housing Maybe we would fix the schools, and if kindergarten classes went full time maybe we'd say "Let's put a classroom addition on a school at a smart fiscal cost instead of using it as an excuse to spend millions we don't have. As our taxes rise every year, imagine the added burden Bancroft and turf will add to the 40 plus million we're already in debt for. Mr. Perry says, Once it's gone, it's gone. I say, what if we never had it? By the way, fix the damn cupola on top of the high school.
Bill Tourtellotte November 17, 2012 at 07:43 PM
Say what you will and this is a fine debate. But let's not get melodramatic about what this initiative could mean to folks in town. Nobody is going to get driven from their homes by a $15-20 per month average increase in their real estate taxes. Presumably, if their income is lacking, their real estate taxes are much lower than the average and their increase will be smaller. If that amount drives someone out, they'd have had to make a change anyway. I am sensitive to that type of situation, but let's not get carried away here with sound bites and let's keep this in perspective. Lastly, let's not kid ourselves with the reality we ALL face that it is more expensive to live here and for the most part, that's just the way it is. Any change in circumstance and any one of us could be faced with the need to move to a more manageable financial situation. In my personal view that's not a justification for perpetuating sub par facilities and options for our otherwise marquee school district and short changing it. We are taking our golden goose for granted and it does need a vision and resources commensurate with what surrounding districts enjoy.
Jack S November 17, 2012 at 08:03 PM
Which Haddonfield organization once said during better economic times: ``Bricks and mortar alone do not imply, much less guarantee, a quality education . . . nor the highest and best marginal use of precious tax dollars and diminishing resources." Hint: It's not Haddonfield United. (The answer is here: http://articles.philly.com/1998-02-23/news/25753140_1_bond-issue-million-bond-school-board) Apparently, tax dollars were more precious then.
Brian Kelly November 18, 2012 at 04:01 PM
It's easy to try and target the passion of people as "melodramatic". Equally easy to try and define what they write as "dramatic talking points". It becomes a talking point for any campaign short on facts to try and minimize what people feel with "all their heart and soul". The opportunity to discredit the way people feel becomes a losing game that motivates them to even greater passion. It's difficult to put yourself in someone's shoes concerning their fiscal dilemma when you've never had to walk in them. The people supporting the Bancroft deal would do well to make an effort to actually talk to their fellow residents and see how this cost affects them. Maybe if this was done there could have been a compromise for Bancroft that people asked to make a sacrifice would have been on board with. You know, people with Haddonfield values who cherish the town they live in. Or is that being too melodramatic?

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