Assembly bill worries school district

A bill currently in the state assembly is worrisome to the Cherry Hill Public School District.

The bill would ban the outsourcing of needed services until the expiration of the current union contract, according to board member Steve Robbins at the Tuesday, March 19 meeting. After the contract expires, the district can only outsource after notifying the township clerk and negotiating with the union over the ability to outsource.

“The concept of the bill kind of makes sense,” but there are many issues in the bill, including the definition of what outsourcing means, Robbins said.

The state school board association is opposed to the bill, he said.

In concrete terms, the schools use outside speech pathologists, occupational therapists and other professionals to supplement the work teachers do on an individual need basis.

“We have too much need,” Robbins said.

The bill will immediately go into effect if passed and signed by Gov. Christie.

“There’s so many question marks,” said Robbins.

He cited that he wants “some semblance of reasonability baked into this bill.”

Board member Elliot Roth said that the bill has already passed the senate.

“It’s already on its way,” he said.

The school board unanimously approved a resolution against the bill. The resolution calls on state legislatures to reject the measure. A copy was to be sent to members of the sixth legislative district delegation, legislative leadership, to Gov. Christie and to the state school boards association.

Read the full bill at http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/2012/bills/a4000/3627_R1.htm.

Middle school lottery woes

Michelle and Matt Williams shared their apprehension regarding the middle school lottery system. Through the lottery, there is the option for fifth-graders to apply to Rosa International Middle School. Otherwise, they are sent to either Carusi or Beck Middle School.

There is a small number of children in Johnson Elementary School that are in a position of getting split up from their classmates, Michelle Williams said.

That puts stress on children and makes them feel isolated, she said.

“It is a very, very tough time for kids, making the transition to middle school,” she said. “We’re just concerned about these students.”

Ideally, kids would stay alongside their friends that they have made over the years, Matt Williams said.

“It’s supposed to be a joyous time,” he said.

Board President Kathy Judge said the district was not yet prepared to comment, but were listening.

“We understand and we hear you,” she said.

Robbins suggested worried parents attend a policy and legislation meeting, which is held the first Monday of each month, to discuss the issue further.

Patriot Club plans care packages

In the last year, Cherry Hill High School West’s Patriot Club has seen significant expansions, now reaching almost every school in the district.

The student-driven club started as a follow up to Veteran’s Day programs. Now, after presenting to the Zone PTA, district leadership team and the Board of Education, the group is looking forward to collecting products and funds for care packages to send to soldiers overseas, West Principal Joe Meloche said.

Students Raymond Horner, Eytan Gittler and Sean Bivins gave a presentation at the meeting, stating that they raised $4,000 plus several donations to send 90 care packages to Kuwait and Afghanistan last year.

“We’re going to continue that this year,” Horner said.

Collections are to begin on April 8 and continue until May 24. During that time, the club hopes to organize several events, including one involving the entire local community.

Each school involved in the collection acts independently, he said.

Half of the packages will be assembled at East, while the other half will be done at West. Elementary and middle school students will be involved at that time, though the dates have yet to be announced.

Soldiers will be on hand to talk to the students in hopes to show the impact on the community, Horner said.

According to Gittler, the goal is to raise $10,000 and more than double the care packages this year, to 200 boxes.

The club is collecting many travel size products, Bivins said. Products include any that help with hygiene, such as floss, deodorant, plain white shirts, shorts and socks, anything that reminds soldiers of home, non-perishable goods, personalized cards and even calculators.

“We’re looking to get as many people as we can involved,” Horner said.

Character recognitions

Character Education Coordinator Mona Noyes had much to be proud of at the meeting.

She, along with five district officials, spoke of recent character development achievements.

Five schools were recognized this year for incorporating character into the curriculum and were given banners to display outside of their respective buildings.

“I’m really thrilled with that,” Noyes said.

Beck was a state school of character two years ago, stayed out of the process for a year to re-examine the program, and shaped themselves accordingly.

“They’ve really fine-tuned themselves wonderfully,” she said.

Principal Dennis Perry said that the school has worked tirelessly to put together character components and are now national finalists with a site visit planned for April.

“We’re looking forward to hearing back in regard to our national standing,” Perry said.

Cherry Hill Alternative High School also received emerging recognition in 2011, took a year off from the process, and is now a state school of character with national status pending, Principal Neil Burti said.

This year was Cherry Hill West’s first time applying to the program, and was also recognized as a state school of character, according to Meloche.

“It’s nice. It’s nice to be recognized,” he said.

Woodcrest Elementary School had become a state school of character in the past and has since received two honorable mentions in the application process, Principal Beth Anne Kob said.

“It takes some time,” and the school is working toward the next step, she said.

Knight School was recognized as an emerging school of character, Principal George Guy said.

The school is excited about the feedback, will take a year off like Beck and will likely reapply in the 2014–2015 school year.

“Congratulations to all the great schools who show great character all year long,” Guy said.

The accomplishments were possible due to Noyes’ hard work, said Assistant Superintendent Dr. Lawyer Chapman.

Superintendent Dr. Maureen Reusche was absent.

“(Noyes) puts in hours and hours and hours of her time,” Chapman said. “Mona, please take a bow tonight.”