Frequently Asked Questions

Cherry Hill Public Schools Bond 2018 Building a solid future

Bond 2018 Questions and Answers

Please see below for questions that the community has asked, along with our answers. Some questions may be a compilation of similar questions on the same topic. Questions may be edited for brevity.


Why does the District keep saying all of the schools will get new security vestibules with this Bond, when my sample ballot says only Harte, Kingston, Stockton, Carusi and Rosa will get them?

Answer

We apologize for the confusion! The schools you named are listed in Proposal #1 of the Bond because they are the schools that require new construction with vestibules added on to those buildings. The remaining schools have layouts that allow the vestibules to be configured within those buildings' original footprint. You may see the list of projects and the schematic drawings for the construction plans at each of our school buildings under the Bond Referendum Building Improvements Listed By School link.

Does the Bond impact the State's allocation of aid to the Cherry Hill School District in any way?

ANSWER

The Bond would have no impact on annual general fund state aid that is received by the District from the State.

Page 63 of the September 25, 2018 bond presentation outlines costs. Can you confirm the bond cost is $306 million before the reimbursement of 40% and the $212 million is the cost to the community? What percentage of the cost is contingency?

ANSWER

The cost for the bond, which includes principal and interest costs, over 20 years, is estimated to be $306,000,000. The final cost will be contingent upon the interest rate at the time of the bond sale. Debt service aid, which the District will receive annually from the State, will be used to pay a portion of the principal and interest costs and is estimated to be between 35% and 38%. (Exact percentage per proposal is listed in the ballot question.) The net cost over 20 years to the District is estimated to be approximately $212,300,000.

Of the $210,772,000 in bond costs, approximately 7% is dedicated to contingencies for the projects.

Why was the Alternative High School left off the Bond Referendum?

Answer

The Alternative High School is a valued program in the Cherry Hill Public Schools, serving roughly 40 students. It is housed in the Malberg Administration Building, and takes up only a fraction of the building’s square footage. Because of this, no improvement projects for the school are eligible for state funding under the Bond. Improvements for the Alternative High School will be addressed using other monies.

What about the roof repairs listed in Question 2? If that question fails, we are again short on money to repair roofs. And the vestibule/office reconfigurations in Question 1 aren't really security, in my opinion.

Answer

The Cherry Hill School District anticipates that all three questions in the upcoming Bond Referendum will be passed by the voters. In the event that any do not pass, they will be put out again for another vote.

The projects listed in the Bond questions are all important projects which have been designated as high priority. They do not fall under the category of emergent projects ("emergent" referring to being in an emergency situation).

Our physical security improvements focus on limiting access to our buildings – as currently configured, many of our buildings' offices are located down hallways and around corners, allowing visitors access to the building at large upon entry. To correct this, we are following the best practices advice based on years of analysis work and collaboration among our District Director of Security, Director of Operations, the Cherry Hill Police Department, and the Assistant Superintendent – Board Secretary/Business Administrator, as well as recommendations for School Preparedness and Emergency Planning by the New Jersey Department of Education. Also fundamental to these plans is the District wide security assessment completed by Ronin Security. Ronin Security offered input regarding our current practices, policies and procedures and how we can improve them. Their guidance also is integral to structural changes related to security in our buildings, some of which will be funded by the bond referendum, while other security-related building upgrades will be paid for out of the General Fund Budget.

Why is Question 1 the security construction portion of the bond, and why must we approve Question 1 in order to pass Questions 2 and 3? It seems to me that certain projects in Questions 2 and 3 should take priority in Question 1.

Answer

The bond referendum questions were determined based on a community wide survey conducted from September through March of 2016-2017. The results of that survey determined the top desires of the community to be safety and security in our buildings. As the board and administration agreed that these areas should be our primary focus, they are included in Question 1, which not only does not increase our community members' property taxes, it decreases the amount homeowners currently pay. Our decision to build secure vestibules for each building came from the culmination of advice from our director of security, the Cherry Hill Police Department, the New Jersey School Security Task Force Report and Recommendations. The vestibules are part of a larger, comprehensive, building wide security upgrade in all of our schools, which includes:

  • Security cameras throughout the interior and exterior of each school (40+ cameras at the Barclay Early Childhood Center, with many more planned for our larger schools).
  • Motion-sensor activated lighting on all exterior walls of our schools.
  • Blinking blue-light systems on all building exteriors, indicating when a lockout or lockdown is in progress.
  • Swipe-card entry for staff only at all exterior doors, with customized entry times according to staff hours and responsibilities.
  • Locked entry doors from the vestibules to the interior of the school buildings, opened remotely only by office personnel.
  • Sliding-window drop-off areas within the vestibules, for parents dropping off items for their students.

Question 1 encompasses a much larger scope of work than the security improvements, as you will see detailed on the "Bond 2018 Question Summary" page of the District web site. Questions 2 and 3 will expand our ability to address additional important projects, allowing every school building in the District to benefit from the bond.

The configuration of a bond into three questions is not unusual for school districts seeking to borrow a large amount of money via a bond. While community members will have different opinions on the projects included in each question, the projects were chosen and placed in each question based upon exhaustive, hands-on research by a team of 36 engineers and architects led by Becica Associates, all of whom have decades of first-hand knowledge working in the 1.7 million square feet of space in our school buildings, the oldest of which was built in 1955 and the youngest which was built in 1970. Their recommendations, along with the professional budgetary analysis of our business administrators, guided the organization of the work into the three proposals that make up the bond referendum.

In looking over the bond questions, it's not clear which questions the non-eligible and non-funded projects will be in. Would you please explain?

Answers

For the most part, ineligible costs are found in Question 3. Total ineligible costs are $5,115,543, or 2.43% of the total referendum. Examples of ineligible costs are paving and site work, athletic field improvements and auditorium upgrades.

Unfunded costs can be found in Questions 1 and 2 and relate to any new construction that is being done. The state will only provide funding on $143 per square foot for new construction. Typical new construction costs approximately $300 per square foot. Of the $24.8 million dollars of new construction, $9.5 million dollars or 38% is considered eligible for funding by the State based on the $143 per square foot rule.

Overall, of the $210 million dollars in project applications, total unfunded or ineligible is $20,408,031 or 9.68% of the total project.

With regard to the upcoming bond referendum, please explain why asbestos abatement is listed in some schools and not others.

Answer

All of our schools have asbestos, and some level of asbestos abatement will need to be done in every school as part of these projects. Asbestos can be typically found in floor tiles, pipe wrapping and the glue that is used to mount blackboards. Sometimes is can be found in plaster walls as in Rosa School and the ceiling as in Carusi School. The District has reports that outlines where asbestos is located in each building. Asbestos becomes problematic when it has to be broken up or cut into in order to complete a work project. If asbestos is located in areas that are being renovated, removal of the asbestos will need to be done prior to the renovations beginning. All abatements will be conducted while the buildings are unoccupied.