Date approved for Cherry Hill Public Schools bond referendum

The board expects to discuss and vote on referendum projects in August.

The Cherry Hill community now officially knows when Cherry Hill Public Schools will hold its bond referendum this year.

However, residents will have to wait a few more weeks to see what the referendum questions look like.

The Cherry Hill Board of Education approved a resolution for school officials to officially notify township and county election officials about the district’s planned referendum. The resolution will allow the district to hold the referendum via a special election on Tuesday, Oct. 2.

The board moved forward with passing the resolution even though the district hasn’t received a final answer from the state on its proposed projects. At the board’s committee of the whole meeting on July 10, district officials said they still hadn’t received a reply from the state Department of Education on whether its referendum project applications have been approved. Last Tuesday, district officials said they still hadn’t received word about the status of applications.

“We are still planning on having a referendum on Oct. 2,” Superintendent Joe Meloche said. “We’re dealing with some challenges right now with the Department of Ed.”

District officials have stated they have been in contact with state officials trying to answer questions about the application, but expected to receive a final response well before late July. According to a state law on school bond referendums, the state Department of Education has 90 days from the receipt of a district’s project applications to review them and determine the preliminary eligible cost. District officials said Cherry Hill Public Schools submitted its applications on April 4.

District officials visited with the department of education last Wednesday. In a video posted to the school district’s social media and YouTube accounts late Wednesday, Meloche said the district should receive word on its projects by Aug. 7. He went on to say the board’s strategic planning committee plans to have a discussion on the questions at its Aug. 7 meeting. A vote to adopt the projects to be included will likely take place at the board’s Aug. 14 work session meeting.

District officials have not yet revealed details on how many questions the referendum may include, the projects it will include and how much each question would cost.

“I would love to go into a lot more detail with the board and the community about what is contained within those (questions),” Meloche said. “We cannot do that until we get the final approval from the state.”

Multiple residents discussed the referendum during the second public comment portion of the meeting, specifically regarding the district’s communication about the topic. Resident David Rossi noted the district has made some efforts to reach out to the community through public forums, but said community members would still like to know more information and felt the district could embrace social media in a more positive manner.

“What are the specific questions that the state has?” Rossi asked. “Are they similar questions we have? Are they about long-range facilities plans? Are they about some of the things we may have brought up?”

Resident Anne Einhorn, a former board member, applauded the district’s communications efforts during the referendum process and felt there was undue negativity surrounding the referendum online.

“I’m tired of the negativity,” Einhorn said. “What worries me is that it’s going to be eroding of opportunities for all of our kids to be successful if it continues.”

“We desperately need to fix buildings,” Einhorn added. “We do not have the money. My concern is, the sooner we know about the state, the better.”