Seats, budget to be decided

By ROBERT LINNEHAN | The Cherry Hill Sun

Residents will have their chance to go to the polls on Tuesday, April 21, for the annual board of education election. Even though the election is uncontested, the Cherry Hill school district will see two new board of education members for the 2009–10 school year.

Susan Bastnagel, district public information officer, said three candidates filed petitions to run for the three open seats. However, only one incumbent chose to run. Kathy Judge, who was appointed to an unexpired term about a year ago, will run again for the four-year seat.

Board of Education President Sharon Giaccio and Vice President Robert Russo chose not to run for re-election. In their stead, Colleen Harron-Horiates and Wayne Tarken are running unopposed for the two vacant seats.

The board of education will elect a new president and vice president at the first meeting after the elections.

Voters will also decide the fate of the $171 million school budget, which will feature a tax rate of $3.19 per every $100 of assessed property value. According to Business Administrator Jim Devereaux, an average assessed home of $140,000 will pay about $4,468 in school taxes next year, about $8 more than last year.

Giaccio congratulated the district at the budget’s public hearing for reaching its flat tax rate goal. It was a difficult process, she said, but the board was able to reach its stated goal during a challenging economic time.

“We challenged administrators to come up with a solid budget during challenging times,” she said. “We were able to achieve a flat tax with a level of reduction we hope will be acceptable to the residents of Cherry Hill.”

But the flat tax rate came with several sacrifices, with the monetary value of 63.2 full-time employees being eliminated from the district for the next school year. The savings — salaries and health benefits — totaled more than $3.8 million for 2009–2010.

Polls will be open on Tuesday, April 21 from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m. Visit chclc.org for a complete list of the polling locations.

Be sure to check www.cherryhillsun.com next week for the election results. And check the April 29 issue of The Sun for the full stories.