Budget freeze begins in school district

In hopes to help balance the 2013–2014 budget, a budget freeze has been instituted in Haddonfield’s public schools.

“That freeze is for all non-essential items,” Superintendent Dr. Richard Perry said.

A potential $75,000 may be saved from this year’s budget, Perry said.

Recently, the Cherry Hill School District made a similar decision.

Still, much will be up in the air until Gov. Christie’s budget address, which will announce state aid figures.

If the figures are sliced in half, possible cuts could be seen in areas of technology, capital reserves, personnel, district wide supplies and extracurricular activities.

“We don’t want to do it,” Perry said.

Once aid is announced, the district has to act quickly, Board President Steve Weinstein said.

“None of us know what the governor’s going to give in his budget address,” Weinstein said.

The Feb. 21 board of education meeting was the third budget talk in the last month.

The budget needs to be sent into the county office on March 7, Perry said.

Currently, there is a projected budget deficit of $450,259.

To maintain the status quo, there would need to be a 1.66 percent tax levy increase, Perry said, which is also dependent on state aid.

With Perry’s recommendation of hiring an administrator to help with the new teacher evaluation system, there would be an increase of 1.98 percent to the tax levy, which is under the 2 percent state-mandated cap.

Resident Susan Hoch expressed confusion on the element of turf still being in the budget, suggesting sand-cap natural grass fields.

Hoch made a similar recommendation to the commission earlier in the month.

“It’s a much more sensible thing to do,” Hoch said. “It’s just grass with sand under it.”

Installation is cheaper and there are fewer issues, she said, including the price and none of the allergies to rubber fill.

Plus, she said, they are ecologically sound.

“It’s not a choice between a dirt field and a turf field,” Hoch said.

Meetings ahead

There will be two board of education meetings in early March to discuss the budget.

The first is scheduled for Monday, March 4 at 7:30 p.m., followed by another meeting on Wednesday, March 6 at 7:30 p.m.

Both will be held in the high school library.

Tuition marketing

The tuition student website is on its way to a revamp.

The board approved a request for $6,900 to be used to create and maintain the website by Creative Communications and Graphics, Inc.

The update will help draw people into the website, and further, into the program, Board Member Joe Ehrhardt said.

“It should be a very quick implementation,” Ehrhardt said. “It has a lot of splash to it.”

“We hope that it can almost translate through to the school website as well,” he said.

School safety update

In his ongoing report, Perry said there are various initiatives that can be done to help enhance safety, including duress alarms, walky talkies and limiting access to school entrances throughout the district.

Plans, facilities and drills have been in the process of being reviewed, he said.

“It’s been a very productive time for us,” Perry said.

Town crier

Armed with a scroll, Perry and Central School Principal Shannon Simkus recognized 10-year-old Joey Rihl, the borough’s youngest town crier.

Joey is a “famous gentleman” now, Perry said.

This is “quite an accomplishment for a fifth-grader,” Simkus said.

Joey will be working with the Indian King Tavern.

“Thank you very much to the Haddonfield board of education and the Indian King Tavern for giving me my great appointment,” Joey said.