Eastern Regional High School Board of Education’s newly-elected member sworn in

Jude J. Brown was sworn in for a three-year term.

Newly-elected Eastern Regional High School Board of Education member Jude J. Brown is sworn in.

Jude J. Brown was sworn into a three-year term as a member of the Eastern Regional High School Board of Education at its latest meeting.

Brown grew up and still resides in Voorhees. His three children went through the school district.

“I always wanted to give back, and I waited for my kids to get out because I didn’t want any conflicts of interest,” he explained. “I have an empty nest and more time on my hands; I figured now’s the time to do it.”

He is not the first in his family to be on the school board. His brother, Bill, held this position 30 years ago until Mary Schmus took over. She retired in 2016, and Brown thought it was the perfect time for him to take her vacant spot.

“It just kind of seemed right,” he said. “I’m looking forward to keeping the school on the right track. I think it’s a great school district. I love it, my kids have done really well with it, and I want to make sure we continue that legacy and continue the good traditions we have.”

In other news:

• January was designated as “School Board Recognition Month” in the state, and Superintendent Harold Melleby acknowledged the school board members by providing them leadership certificates.

“I speak on behalf of the public, students and staff, Mrs. (Diana) Schiraldi, and I would like to thank the board and express our appreciation for your time, effort and dedication,” he said. “It’s often been said when you look at a good school district, it all starts at the top with the board of education, and that is true. I’ve had the great privilege of working in four school districts, and I must tell you, where you have a good board and a board that’s supportive, will challenge you and raise questions and raise the bar, you have a good district.”

Melleby also mentioned that none of the board members has a student at Eastern, something he said is unheard of.

“It really shows their commitment to the community,” he said. “They remain invested and involved because they really love this high school.”

Eastern Regional High School Board of Education members. From left, Robert DeCicco, Gail David, Elena Chow, Robert Campbell, Richard Teichman, Robert Paul, Jude Brown. Not pictured: Hillary Garr and Dennis Deichert.

• During the public comment portion of the meeting, Marc Kahn of Voorhees raised concerns over how the district is spending its budget and not getting as much as it should in return. He asked the board why it doesn’t charge tuition students the maximum amount allowed by the state, which is in the $13,000 range. Eastern’s current rate for tuition students is $11,120.

Melleby and Schiraldi, the district’s business administrator, said it raised 3 percent over the last few years and there will be another increase, but they have not made any recommendations to the finance committee yet. They are also looking at other districts to see what they are charging.

Kahn also asked why the district doesn’t charge outside groups who use Eastern’s facilities, such as the athletic fields and auditorium, more than they do now.

”I was told it was $15 a kid regardless of how long the camp was — one day, two days, a week, something like that,” Kahn said. “The coaches and people who run these things make a profit, so why shouldn’t the district make a profit on this?”

Melleby said they have a “pretty good sense” on what the lights on the athletics fields cost.

“The area that we’re spending more considerable time with is the various athletic camps you’ve referenced,” he said to Kahn. “The $15 per camper might have been eight or 10 years without change.”

Melleby continued to say they are waiting for a report back from Eastern and said it is unfair to charge outside groups an equal amount if one of the groups is using the athletic fields where they have to use on the lights.