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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 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.

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? What professional firm, expert or team of school security experts is

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.

Many residents make use of tennis courts and track facilities at Cherry Hill High School East all summer, but in 2017 the portable toilets were removed for the summer. Can these please be allowed to remain in place this summer?

One portable toilet will be left out at the outdoor sports facilities at Cherry Hill High School East for the summer.

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.

How are the middle and high school attendance areas determined? Is it strictly by zip code?

According to District Policy 8110 - Attendance Areas, the assignment of students will use a boundary line extending south along the New Jersey Turnpike from the north boundary of the township to the Haddonfield-Berlin Road, west along the Haddonfield-Berlin Road to Brace Road and then southwest to the Cooper River. Students residing east and south of this line shall attend High School East and Beck Middle School; students residing west and north of this line shall attend High School West and Carusi Middle School.

Unless students apply to attend high school under Policy 5111.2 - Secondary Open Enrollment, and are accepted, they will be assigned to East and West based on the boundary guidelines in Policy 8110.

Unless students apply to attend the Rosa International Middle School under Policy 5111.2 - Secondary Open Enrollment and are accepted, they will be assigned to Beck and Carusi based on the boundary guidelines in Policy 8110.

I am not sure how the proposed vestibules to be built on our schools' main entrances are a safety measure. Please explain how and why this measure is being taken. Why don't we implement devices such as door blockers for all classrooms?

One of the bigger challenges in our buildings is that once a visitor is buzzed in through the front door, he or she has open access to the building. Our building staff and principals have voiced legitimate concerns about this building design from the 1950s and '60s, as it has not kept pace with societal changes and the resulting security challenges. Specifically, our security consultants have affirmed that it is not advisable for visitors to have to walk down hallways and/or around corners merely to drop off an item or to meet with the building principal. Our discussions with administrators in other school districts where vestibules are in use further confirmed their usefulness in increasing security. As for classroom door blockers, we have been advised by our director of security, as well as local and county law enforcement that – among several issues – the blocking devices can too easily be used as a hindrance to law enforcement rescue efforts in an emergency situation. In March, we implemented new safety protocols – and recommitted to enforcing without fail those already in place – in our schools. We thank our parents and visitors for strictly following all safety protocols. We also are grateful for the increased police presence in our schools. We continue to work daily to improve our security efforts and have every confidence in the expert advice we continue to receive and follow regarding best practices.

My child has been placed on the wait list for admission to Rosa. Historically, how many children are granted admission from the wait list prior to beginning 6th grade?

There has been no historical norm exhibited for the number of students on the wait list who are granted admission before 6th grade. The number varies from year to year. Please feel free to call (856) 429-5600 Ext 4432 periodically beginning in the last week of April to see how your child is progressing through the wait list.

There have been at least two rewrites/edits to the World Language curriculum in the past six years. When will there be dedicated time to rewrite and not just revise the World Language Curriculum? When will textbooks and materials be updated?

Mr. Scott Goldthorp, our Supervisor for K-12, Science and World Language, will be training our high school and middle school language world language teachers during the upcoming in-service day in June. He is continuing the conversation with them about our ESL curriculum. Funds have been allocated in the 2018-2019 budget to update resources (materials, textbooks, etc.). The implementation of Chinese offers an opportunity to make further revisions as well.

What is happening with 6th grade World Language at Beck Middle School? Although the curriculum is the same for all middle school students by the time they finish 8th grade, when will 6th grade World Language be restored to a full year of study in 6th grade, like Rosa and Carusi?

Although the new master schedule for World Language at the three middle schools is not yet set, we are working on it. Until the master schedule is completed, Beck will maintain its current program. We will be publicizing the new master schedule when it is complete.

Hello! I am wondering about the proposed district-wide field trip choices. How were these sites chosen?

In order to have equity of outcome across the district, the elementary school principals worked together, with input from their teachers, to develop "anchor field trips" for each elementary grade level – meaning all students, at each grade level, will take their grade's designated field trip each year. Additional field trips may be offered in any given year, at the discretion of the school principal. To determine the "anchor field trips," the principals were required to submit a rationale for each trip to show the connection to the district's Board approved curriculum. Other considerations for choosing the field trip locations were cost and the locations' level of experience with handling large school groups. The "anchor field trips" are as follows:

Kindergarten: Springdale Farm. Trips to Springdale Farm include instructional components for students which align with the first two Science Units: Interdependent Relationships in Ecosystems and Weather and Climate.

1st Grade: Philadelphia Zoo. Students will observe and discuss how animals of the same breed look like their parents, but are not exactly the same. Classes will review different species of animals that are at the zoo. Students will use a recording sheet to record observations made during the trip. Students will share their observations after the trip.

2nd Grade: Adventure Aquarium. A visit to the Adventure Aquarium will help students develop the idea that water is a powerful force that reshapes the earth's surface. Students see that water isn't just something we drink. It carries sand to create beaches, carves out canyons and valleys and, as ice, scrapes entire areas flat.

3rd Grade: Camp Creek Run. This destination provides students with a variety of science-based learning activities. There is a habitat study that compares various habitats present at the camp as well as an opportunity to learn about the various organisms that live in the streams and woods present at the camp.

4th Grade: The Franklin Institute. The Franklin Institute has exhibits to match the Science Curriculum in 4th grade, including but not limited to the study of Energy, Waves and Engineering Design. The presentation and sheer scale of the exhibits at the Franklin Institute far exceeds what can be reproduced in the classroom.

5th Grade: Citizens Bank Park or Lincoln Financial Field. Behind-the-scenes tours of these facilities align with weather education and "go green" programs in our schools. The tours include a detailed explanation of solar/wind energy production and use, as well as recycling efforts.

In 2016-2017, the first 3 choices for snow make-up days were teacher in-service days. This year, 2017-2018, the 1st choice, February 16, is a teacher In-service day, but the 2nd choice is Presidents' Day, a federal holiday. Why was this policy changed? Why use a federal holiday? Why not use MLK Day?

On the 2016-2017 Cherry Hill Public Schools calendar, two of the five teacher in-service days, one on February 17 and one on April 17, were designated as the first two inclement weather makeup days for the 2016-2017 school year. The remaining teacher in-service day, on June 19, was designated the third makeup day, and June 20 was the fourth makeup day.

This year, the first two inclement weather makeup days are set for the teacher in-service day on February 16 and for Presidents' Day on February 19. This is similar to the inclement weather makeup day schedule during the 2015-2016 school year, in which the first two makeup days were designated for the teacher in-service on the Friday before Presidents' Day, and on Presidents' Day itself. A similar inclement weather makeup day schedule is on the 2018-2019 school calendar.

Although the Board of Education approves the District calendar two years in advance of every school year, there is no Board policy regarding which days must be used as inclement weather makeup days. Additionally, school districts are not required to close on federal holidays – for example, the Cherry Hill Public Schools does not close for Columbus Day. Federal holidays may be used as inclement weather makeup days.

The District chooses not to use Martin Luther King, Jr. Day (also a federal holiday) as an inclement weather makeup day because that day is a day of service, and we prefer to maintain it as such for our students and staff.
Would you please provide an update about what's happening to improve our facilities?

Many exciting developments are underway in the District! Some examples:

SECURITY

The safety and security of our staff and students is and always has been the number one priority of the Cherry Hill Public Schools. In addition to continually training our staff – including substitutes – in security protocols consistent with all law enforcement entities in Camden County, and carrying out regular safety drills with all staff and students, CHPS:

  • Partners with the Cherry Hill Police Department, whose officers conduct regular walk-throughs of all 19 schools, all year long
  • Is using a portion of the $1,021,510 in additional 2017 state aid to install additional exterior lighting around our school buildings
  • Is installing a Security Prototype Project at the Barclay Early Childhood Center, included in the May 23, 2017 CHPS 2020 presentation, to be replicated at all of our 18 additional schools:
    • Swipe card access at main entrance and alternative entrances
    • Interior/exterior cameras
    • Interior/exterior strobe light alarms
    • A security vestibule at the main entrance

INFRASCTRUCTURE IMPROVEMENTS

  • Cherry Hill High School East – Wall and foundation drainage project. This large construction project began this summer. Expected completion: September 2017.
  • Kingston – soffit replacement project. Expected completion: October 2017.
  • Installation of filtered water bottled refilling stations/water fountains in all 19 schools, which will be completed in September 2017.
  • District wide – Ongoing curb appeal projects, which will take place at all of our schools. Among the most recent:
    • Resurfacing of the parking lot entrance at High School East
    • A new entrance canopy at Sharp Elementary
    • Fresh parking lot paint District wide
  • Additional district wide improvements to take place during the 2017-2018 school year:
    • Paint – interior and exterior
    • Curb appeal
    • Flooring removal/replacement/abatement
    • Exterior door replacements
    • Electrical & generator upgrades
    • Crawl space work at Barton Elementary
    • Roof repairs
    • Tree work – pruning, thinning or removal

A LONG-RANGE STRATEGIC PLAN

BOND REFERENDUM 2018

  • Community discussions, including the "Saturday Coffee with the Superintendent" series, have begun regarding what will be included in the Bond Referendum. Vote will take place on October 2, 2018
  • Specific Bond projects will be Board approved and announced at the January 23, 2018 Board of Education Action Meeting.

We encourage all community members to be active participants in the conversation about the long-range CHPS 2020 Strategic Plan and the 2018 Bond Referendum. Our "Saturday Coffee with the Superintendent" meetings are just the beginning of this dialog.

Additional opportunities to stay informed:

Above all, please do not rely on social media chat groups for information about what's happening in the Cherry Hill Public Schools. The "whisper-down-the-lane effect" is real! The best place to find accurate information about CHPS is from CHPS.

Why will the bond referendum vote be in October* 2018 instead of November, on Election Day?

The state of New Jersey permits school districts to place construction bond issues on the ballot on any of four special school election dates in January, March, September (which this year the state changed to October 2) and December – in addition to placing a construction bond issue on the Annual School Election on the November ballot. In order to give our upcoming bond issue greater attention outside of the General Election Day, we chose the October 2, 2018 special election date.

*The State of New Jersey recently changed the fall special election date from September 25 to October 2, 2018 to avoid a conflict with a religious holiday.