HomeCherry Hill NewsParents feel Cherry Hill Public Schools should invest more in athletic fields

Parents feel Cherry Hill Public Schools should invest more in athletic fields

During the opening game of the field hockey season between Cherry Hill East and West on Sept. 11, a mini scoreboard located at the base of the scorers’ table. The little scoreboard, barely visible to spectators across the field, was the only way the crowd could keep track of the score and time.

With about nine minutes remaining in the first half, the scoreboard fell down and shut off, never to come back.

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Parent Linda Goldberg could only shake her head. The lack of a basic field hockey scoreboard was just one of many issues she had with the athletic facilities at Cherry Hill’s two high schools.

“(Athletics are) not a priority,” Goldberg said. “It’s embarrassing.”

At the Cherry Hill Board of Education’s July meeting, a group of parents and residents asked the board to consider making improvements to the athletics facilities at both Cherry Hill East and West. Their complaints ranged from a lack of lights and turf at the Cherry Hill East football field to dangerous conditions at the Cherry Hill West tennis courts.

With the new athletic season opening this week, parents have continued to talk about the facilities at both schools. Some parents feel the fields are in better condition than in previous years, while others believe changes need to be made.

Some of the biggest complaints have come from field hockey parents from both schools. Many of them said the field at Cherry Hill East is not up to par compared to other fields in the Olympic Conference.

One of the biggest issues a couple field hockey parents had was the lack of a turf field. Parent Doris Kenniff said opposing schools are shocked at the condition of Cherry Hill East’s field.

“All of the other teams have turf,” she said.

Their complaints were not limited to field hockey. Judy Angelucci said the district’s struggles to find funding for facility improvements. She said the booster clubs and parents are counted on to fundraise such improvements.

“Our booster clubs shouldn’t have to fundraise to pay for it,” she said. “A lot of it falls back to the parents.”

Not all of the news is bad for the high school fields. Many parents are pleased with the efforts of the district’s groundskeepers.

Ari Ohnora, a Cherry Hill East soccer dad, said he has seen an improvement with the team’s soccer field this year.

“They look great,” he said. “We’re very happy with them.”

While Kenniff said she’d like the field hockey teams to have turf, she said the district’s groundkeepers have done the best job possible with the field.

“The groundskeepers are doing their best with what they have to work with,” she said.

The school district is making some improvements to the sports facilities this year. Among them are renovation for the training rooms at both school, new softball dugouts at Cherry Hill East and visiting team bleachers at the Cherry Hill West football field.

However, board member and strategic planning committee chair Seth Klukoff said the district is limited in how many athletics improvements it can fund in a given year. He said the district has to properly balance funding for facility improvements and academics.

Mary Jo Reiss, a Cherry Hill East parent, said the district could look at alternative sources of revenue to help fund athletics improvements.

“How about they let the companies advertise at the fields,” she said.

An athletics committee consisting of parents, coaches, athletic directors and principals was formed over the summer to improve communication with the school district about athletic facility improvements. Both the district and members of the committee took a tour of both schools to help develop a long-term vision for improvements.

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