Moorestown Board of Education releases statement on recent planning board meeting

The Moorestown BOE responds to comments and actions taken by the township planning board at its November meeting.

Editor’s Note: The following statement was released by Moorestown Board of Education President Sandra Alberti on behalf of the board following statements and press coverage from the recent Moorestown Twp. Planning Board meeting.

The Moorestown Township Board of Education embraces collaboration with our municipal partners. The board’s actions in furtherance of the referendum projects have complied with all legal requirements, which only require the projects to be submitted to the Moorestown Township Planning Board for a courtesy review. The timing and manner of submission to the planning board is entirely consistent with prior board projects, including how the board shared information with the planning board to facilitate its courtesy review of these projects. Nonetheless, we want our mutual constituents to be clear that planning board approval is not required in order to proceed with a school facilities project.

The planning board was in receipt of the board’s information for over 55 days prior to its recent meeting. Not once prior to the meeting was the board asked about the Long-Range Facilities Plan, nor were questions raised about process prior to the planning board meeting. The board happily would have answered such questions or explained why recent concerns about the LRFP are misplaced and inconsistent with law and regulation. Further, had the question been posed in advance, the board would have happily addressed concerns regarding whether its enrollment data was reported correctly. Since the Department of Education distinguishes between regularly enrolled students, and students enrolled on a tuition basis, 203 students in the Extended Day Program were counted twice for purposes of the 2018 enrollment numbers. The correct enrollment number is 3,977, and the projected 2023-2024 enrollment of 4,196 students remains unchanged.

The board is deeply disappointed with recent actions of the planning board. The board strongly disputes the contention that any part of the process was not properly followed – specifically, the suggestion that the courtesy review should not have commenced until after the Long-Range Facilities Plan was fully reviewed and approved. The planning board interpretation is incorrect under law and inconsistent with the prior process.

We hope that going forward all members of the planning board will engage productively with the board of education on the merits of the project to best serve the needs of our students, staff, and community.