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Quick 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.

I am hearing from members of our community that the current Cherry Hill Public Schools budget resulted in a 3 percent tax increase. Is this correct?

As per the "User Friendly Budget" which can be found on the District's website at https://www.chclc.org/uploaded/Departments/Finance/User_Friendly_Budget_2018-19.pdf, the District's 2018-19 Total General Fund Budget is $200,308,954. This is a $4,444,232 or 2.26% increase over the 2017-18 General Fund Budget. The General Fund Tax Levy is held to a 2% increase each budget year, unless the district is eligible for an adjustment to that cap. For the 2018-19 budget year, the General Fund Tax Levy was held to a 2% increase, despite the fact that the District was eligible, due to an adjustment to the cap, to increase the budget beyond the 2%. The tax levy for the General Fund increased in 2018-19 over the 2017-18 school year by $3,3395,311, which is exactly 2%.

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?

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.

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.

What is the process for starting a new club at one of the Cherry Hill Schools? How do new clubs secure funding for costs (sponsor/coach, transportation, materials, etc.)?

Students at our elementary and middle schools may propose a new club to their building principal. The principal should be consulted regarding what such a proposal should include.

At Cherry Hill High School East, students may pick up a Club Creator Form in the Activities Office or print one out from the Student Activities Eboard on the East web site. Students must fill out the form and find a staff member to serve as adviser. Students would then meet with the Coordinator of Student Activities to discuss the purpose, direction, proposed club activities and need for the club at East. The Coordinator of Student Activities will either approve, modify or decline the club after this meeting.

At Cherry Hill High School West, students may start a club if they have at least two members and a faculty member who has agreed to be an adviser. They must write up a description of the club, what their goals are and when/how often they plan to meet. The members sign the proposal, as does the faculty adviser, and they have a club.

Funding for clubs come from the group's own fundraising efforts. All club fundraising and expenditure of funds are governed by Board Policies 5830 - Student Fund Raising and 6660 - Student Activity Funds.

How often does Cherry Hill High School East, including the desks and doors, get cleaned/disinfected? Also,when is the last time the school's halls and classrooms received a new coat of paint? It is time to put these items into the budget. Long overdue.

All classrooms, doors and desks in all of our schools are thoroughly cleaned over the summer and when we have extended periods when the buildings are closed, such as Winter and Spring Break. In addition, desks are wiped down nightly. Painting is definitely on the priority list – throughout the District – as well as new ceilings and lighting for school corridors to brighten them up.

Can I send almonds as part of my daughter's lunch? She does not eat much meat, and I want to be sure she gets adequate protein.

Some of our schools do have restrictions on food brought into the school based on students' food allergies. Please check with your building principal regarding nut allergies in your daughter's school.

What is the access code for the STOPit app?

Please contact your school's principal for that building's STOPit access code.

When is Junior Prom 2019? If nothing else, what month, what day of the week is it usually? Thank you.

Our high schools' Junior Proms are scheduled for two different dates. Cherry Hill HIgh School East's Junior Prom is scheduled for Saturday, April 13, 2019 at 6:30 pm. Cherry Hill High School West's Junior Prom is scheduled for Thursday, May 2, 2019, at 7 pm. Details on locations and themes will be released by the individual schools.

Following up to a previous question: Is there more information available regarding the full day kindergarten program? For example, are all elementary schools included? Will aftercare be available (in the same location)?

All elementary schools will have full day kindergarten on site beginning with the 2019-2020 school year. The full day program will replace the half-day program. School Age Child Care (SACC) will be available to all students, including kindergartners, at all locations.

For academic year 2019-2020 (a full year from now), will full day kindergarten be in place or will it still be set to half days?

Full day kindergarten will begin with the 2019-2020 school year. Kindergarten students will follow the regular elementary day schedule of 9 am-3:30 pm.

I am wondering where I might find the Back to School Night dates. Thank you, kindly!

The 2018-2019 Back to School Nights all take place in September and are listed on the District Events Calendar on the District web site. Individual school web sites that do not yet have their back-to-school nights listed will post them shortly.

Can you please tell me the estimated total cost of the special election taking place on October 2, 2018*?

In order to give our upcoming bond issue greater attention outside of the General Election Day, we chose October 2, 2018 as our special election date. This is one of four special school election dates allowed by the state of New Jersey. Although we are still in the process of working out the details of staffing and polling places with the Board of Elections, we anticipate the cost of the special election will be $40,000 or less.

*UPDATE: The special election has been postponed from the original October 2, 2018 date. The new date will be announced upon Board of Education approval.

Where can the public download or obtain a copy of the most recent CHPS Comprehensive Security Assessment & Recommendations the BOE is using to propose/prototype security upgrades for the $150 million bond referendum on 10/2/18?

A representative from Ronin Security, the security firm hired to assess security district wide and to make recommendations following that assessment, will give a full report to the Board of Education in an executive session at the August 28, 2018, BOE Action Meeting. The focus of this report will be on our current practices, policies and procedures and how we can improve them. Ronin Security's input also will be 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. The report will not be shared with the public. Prior to Ronin Security's involvement, the District Director of Security has worked for years in conjunction with the District Director of Operations, the Cherry Hill Police Department, and the Assistant Superintendent - Board Secretary/Business Administrator in continually updating our physical security, policies, practices and procedures. Among the resources utilized in decisions regarding physical security, practices, policies and procedures are those recommended for School Preparedness and Emergency Planning by the New Jersey Department of Education.

Have any federal, state or private grants for school security improvement & funding been applied for and/or going to be applied for prior to the $150 million bond referendum on 10/2/18? If yes, please update the amount & status. If no, why not?

The Cherry Hill Public Schools continually seeks alternative funding. We recently explored the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Grant, a federal grant, and determined that construction costs did not qualify. The state of New Jersey will be putting a referendum on the November ballot for school security funding. This referendum will focus mostly on colleges, but some money will be set aside for elementary and secondary schools. If the state referendum is successful, we will seek whatever funding becomes available to us.

Where are the minutes of all of the BOE committee (Policy & Legislation, Curriculum & Instruction, etc) meetings located? Why are these minutes not posted on the District web site with the Work Session and Action Meeting minutes?

The practice of the Cherry Hill Public Schools has always been to keep the committee meeting minutes on file in the Business Office. In the state of New Jersey, school districts are not required to publish committee meeting minutes, nor are NJ Boards of Education required to hold their committee meetings in public – although the Cherry Hill Board of Education chooses to hold their meetings in public. All committee meeting minutes are discussed at the Board of Education Work Sessions. These discussions are included in the Work Session minutes, which are posted under the Board of Education pull-down menu on the District web site.

What is the plan for district-wide field trips for the middle schools? During the 2017-2018 school year, 8th graders at Carusi did not go to Washington, DC, but the 8th graders at Rosa and Beck did.

During the past year, our middle school administrators have been working diligently to determine field trips for middle school students that are connected to the curriculum and developmentally appropriate. Beginning in the 2018 -2019 school year, all middle schools will have the same field trips.

Who received the bid for the water refilling stations in our schools?

The Cherry Hill Public Schools has its own full-time plumber and did not bid the water refilling station installation. The refilling stations were purchased from a State Contract vendor, Madison Plumbing, and were installed by our plumber.

How do high school guidance counselors help seniors with the college process?

The guidance process for college application and admittance begins in our high school students' freshman year, when guidance counselors meet with the students assigned to them to help them understand the credit requirements, the PSAT/SAT/ACT testing process, timeline for college applications, college visits, scholarship opportunities and more. Regular meetings are scheduled throughout students' high school careers to help keep them on track with the process. Students who enter our high schools after freshman year also are contacted by their guidance counselors to make sure they are on track to meet their educational goals. Additionally, students are encouraged to schedule meetings with their guidance counselors whenever they have questions or concerns about the process. Parents and students will find a plethora of college-related information on their high school's web site under the "Academics" pull-down menu, under the "Guidance" tab. There they will find the Guidance eboard with a "College" tab offering specific resources. Our guidance departments each summer offer Summer Workshops on the ACT and PSAT/SAT exams, as well College Essay Tutorials. Also offered are Financial Aid Information Nights. Letters regarding Financial Aid nights are sent home to parents at the beginning of the school year.

What is being done to stop students from vaping in schools?

Students are prohibited from "vaping" -- using electronic smoking devices -- under Board Policy 5533 - Student Smoking. Under that policy, students are prohibited from smoking at any time in school buildings and on any school grounds, at events sponsored by the Board away from school, and on any transportation vehicle supplied by the Board. School staff regularly walk the buildings' interiors and grounds to prevent "vaping" on campus. All school events are chaperoned to help eliminate the use of tobacco at these events as well.

Students who violate the provisions of Policy 5533 - Student Smoking shall be subject to appropriate disciplinary measures in accordance with the Student Code of Conduct and may be subject to fines in accordance with law.

In the event a student is found to have violated this Policy and the law, the Principal or designee may file a complaint with the appropriate Municipal Court or other agency with jurisdiction as defined in N.J.A.C. 8:6-9.1(c).

Additionally, the health curriculum at all grade levels includes age-appropriate instruction in the potential hazards of the use of tobacco, including its use in electronic smoking devices.

What services are available to help students, especially those in high school, who are dealing with stress or mental health problems such as depression or anxiety?

Trained professionals work in our schools at all levels to help students deal with stress and other mental health issues. Our school nurses at the elementary, middle and high schools are trained to recognize signs of stress and mental health concerns in our students and follow protocols for helping the students and their families take appropriate steps to address these issues. Each elementary school has a guidance counselor and some have a social worker and/or a school psychologist on staff. Additionally, each of our middle and schools has a Student Assistance Counselor (SAC) and a school psychologist on staff, in addition to guidance counselors. In some middle schools, a clinical social worker also is on staff. At the high school level, each school has multiple guidance counselors, a SAC and a Student Advocate. You may find the names and contact information for your school's counselor, SAC, psychologist and/or social worker on the school web site under the "Contact Us" link. The district also employs a psychiatrist who serves all of our schools. These professionals all are trained in recognizing and providing support for students who are feeling stressed and/or need mental health supports. Our teachers also undergo regular training regarding how to help students who are struggling emotionally and how to refer them to the appropriate supports. Mental health screening tests also are offered each year at the high school level to students in grades 9-12. Students must have permission from a parent to participate. Parents are sent a letter informing them of this option.They must actively request for their child to receive an evaluation. More information regarding mental health services and initiatives may be found in Board Policy 2411- Guidance Counseling and Board Policy 5350 - Student Suicide Prevention. Additionally, a robust list of mental health, addiction, emergency service and other crisis resources for parents is available on the district web site, under the "Departments" pull-down menu under the link "Student Assistance."

Regarding the bond issue, would you please explain what is allowed to be in the bond questions and why it does not currently include monies for STEM, new curriculum and new programs, teachers or adviser roles?

A bond is a way for school districts to raise money – which they then must pay back over a period of years – typically to finance building projects or other capital projects. The reason bond monies are not used for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math) or other programs, curriculum or teachers and staffing is that these types of needs are not fixed expenses. It would be imprudent for the Cherry Hill Public Schools to incur debt to be paid off in 20 years to fund programs and staffing. This is why these types of expenses will remain in our regular annual budget. Within the 2018-2019 school year budget, we will be adding Chinese to our World Language program, "B-teams" to our middle school sports programs, and five additional campus police officers to our secondary schools. In the 2019-2020 school year, as part of that year's budget we will replace half-day kindergarten with full-day kindergarten in each of our elementary schools. We continue to push for fair funding from the state to allow us to offer expansion in our programs and human resources.

The presentation regarding debt service seems to have left some confusion in the community. Regarding the additional monies that we receive for debt service from the state of NJ, are the funds only to be used for debt servicing or can our district use them for improvements?

Under New Jersey state statute, money from the state for debt servicing must be used for debt servicing only, and documented as such.

Is there an orientation in August for incoming freshman to learn their way around the school?

Yes, each year Cherry Hill High School East and Cherry Hill High School West each host an orientation day for incoming freshman and new students. The orientation sessions generally take place during the last week of August. Specific dates and times for the 2018-2019 school year will be released in May 2018.