Cherry Hill Public Schools aiming for Dec. 11 for bond referendum

The Cherry Hill Board of Education approved a resolution postponing the Oct. 2 bond referendum, but Superintendent Joe Meloche said the district is hopeful to have it on Dec. 11 after receiving preliminary eligible cost letters from the state.

The Cherry Hill Board of Education postponed its bond referendum, originally planned for Oct. 2, at its meeting last week.

However, district officials say they have a new date in mind.

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A resolution to postpone the Oct. 2 bond referendum was approved unanimously at last week’s board meeting. In addition to postponing the election, the resolution stated, “The board will reschedule the special school district election at a future available date, possibly December 11, 2018, by subsequent resolution.”

“We are anticipating that that date will be Dec. 11, which is the next special election day,” Meloche said.

“I anticipate we’ll be able to do a final announcement on Sept. 25, the next board meeting,” he added.

There has been some progress made on the referendum over the past few weeks as Meloche confirmed the district has received its preliminary eligible cost letters from the state Department of Education. He said district officials are in the process of reviewing the letters to make sure all of the information is accurate. Once they are reviewed, Meloche said the state would revise any issues and send the final eligible cost letters to the district, allowing it to move forward with approval of the election date and the questions.

Meloche did not go into great detail about what is contained within the letters, but did explain what is contained within them in general terms.

“The questions that we received as we’ve gone through this process with the state is defining whether or not there were eligible costs in terms of the reimbursement,” he said. “So for renovations of facilities and that kind of stuff for eligible costs, we can receive up to 40 percent reimbursement when it comes time to pay off the bonds that we borrow.”

Meloche said the district is not able to discuss which projects are contained with each question or dollar amounts until the letters are finalized. This will include at the district’s upcoming back to school nights, where officials plan to discuss some of the proposed projects, but won’t be able to go into details on the questions.

Despite receiving the preliminary letters, the board still voted to postpone the election as district officials felt there wouldn’t be enough time to inform voters about the questions and the proposed projects prior to Oct. 2.

Meloche also explained why the district is opting to hold a special election in December.

“We truly want people to focus on these items and these issues,” Meloche said. “It is too important for it to be lost in the wave of everything else that’s going to go on with Election Day in November.”

Barbara Wilson, public information officer for Cherry Hill Public Schools, said the district is still working out the details with staffing and polling places with the Board of Elections, but anticipates a special election will cost the district $40,000 or less.

Resident and board of education candidate David Rossi spoke during the meeting, asking if the district had an idea of how long of a time period it thought was adequate to inform the voters on the details of the referendum.

Meloche said in the district’s last bond referendum on March 2, 1999, the board approved the referendum questions on Dec. 22, 1998, 71 days prior to the election. There are 78 days between Sept. 25, the next board meeting, and Dec. 11, the district’s anticipated bond referendum date.

“If we have that discussion at the end of September and action ultimately is taken, we believe that we will have enough time to notify and schedule meetings,” Meloche said.

For more information on the upcoming bond referendum, visit www.chclc.org/board-of-education/2020-vision.

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