Cherry Hill BOE approves new contract for superintendent

The board approved a motion to rescind the original five-year contract approved for Superintendent Joe Meloche in 2015 and replace it with a new, five-year contract running through the end of the 2021–22 school year.

The Cherry Hill Board of Education approved a new contract for Superintendent Joe Meloche during the special action portion of last Tuesday’s work session meeting, even with two and a half years still remaining on his original contract.

The board’s action rescinded Meloche’s previous contract and approved a new contract. Board member Kathy Judge, chair of the board’s human resources and negotiations committee, discussed why the board decided to give Meloche a new contract prior to the vote.

“We have a lot of work to do with the Cherry Hill 2020 Clear Vision for the Future plan that we supported on Dec. 19, 2017, along with the upcoming board referendum on Oct. 2 of this year,” Judge said. “I am pleased to have Dr. Meloche at the helm to steer us through all of that work to be done.”

Education Week, a national education newspaper, named Meloche as one of its 2018 “Leaders to Learn From.” Judge noted this and other accomplishments have shown Cherry Hill made the right decision in hiring Meloche, and the board wants to make sure he continues working in the district.

“We have the best of the best right here in Cherry Hill and we do not want to lose him,” Judge said.

The board voted 7–1 to approve Meloche’s contract, with board member Edward Wang casting the only ‘no’ vote. Board president J. Barry Dickinson was absent from the meeting.

Meloche was first hired as the district’s superintendent in August 2015. His original contract was for five years and was due to expire in June 2020. Meloche’s base salary in his original contract was $177,500 per year.

According to the resolution approved by the board, Meloche’s new contract will run retroactively from July 1, 2017, through June 30, 2022. The Sun is filing an Open Public Records Act request for more information on the agreement.

Two residents spoke about the contract during the first public comment session of the meeting. Resident Brian Everett attended Kingston Elementary School, Carusi Middle School and Cherry Hill High School West at the same time Meloche was principal at all three schools. Everett asked the board to approve the new contract because of how dynamic a leader Meloche has been and how much he cares not only about the district, but also about the community as a whole.

“Dr. Meloche has continued to be a fantastic mentor for myself, even long after I graduated from High School West all the way back in 2011,” Everett said.

Resident Miriam Stern said she didn’t understand why the district decided to give Meloche a new contract when his prior one wasn’t due to expire for more than two years. She noted the board should be focused more on negotiating a new contract with Cherry Hill Education Association. The contract between CHEA and the board of education will expire on June 30.

“What’s in front of us much more quickly is the teachers’ contract and the challenges we had with negotiating the teachers’ contract last time, it’s just confusing to me why the emphasis is put on this now,” Stern said.

In other news:

· The board of education honored Eastside, the student newspaper at Cherry Hill High School East, at the start of last week’s meeting. Members of the Eastside staff received certificates for winning National Scholastic Press Association and Journalism Education Association awards in the fall.

· Cherry Hill High School East board representative Joshua Sodicoff and Cherry Hill High School West board representative Carlee Cohen each read a statement thanking the board for its work as part of School Board Recognition Month.

· The next Cherry Hill Board of Education meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, Jan. 23, at 7 p.m. in the Malberg Administration Building’s board room.