Eastern Regional BOE ‘gathers’ in virtual meeting

Board passes tentative budget with increases for two sending districts

The Eastern Camden County Regional School District board of education held its monthly meeting March 18 with only the superintendent, business administrator and board solicitor present, while elected board members representing sending districts were connected via webcams.

At the top of the meeting, Superintendent Robert Cloutier discussed the start of the district’s  remote learning procedure – a result of the COVID-19 pandemic that has closed schools across the state and country – saying its implementation has gone as well as could be expected in the beginning.

“Everyone is cooperating and collaborating and overall, relatively, it’s been a good start,” Cloutier said. “We’re trying to make adjustments as we go and received feedback. But again, relatively, it’s been a good start.”

Board President Bob DeCicco also spoke about the work of administrators, teachers and others to get the remote learning plan up and running for the foreseeable future.

“On behalf of the board of education and the residents of our three districts I would like to publicly congratulate Mr. Cloutier, Dr. (Kristin) Borda, all the administration, teachers, aides and support staff for the incredible job in preparing and implementing the remote school day education plan that we are now operating under,” DeCicco said in a written statement. “I understand the plan is operating very well and the speed and expertise in getting this working is a true measure of their professionalism.”

During the meeting, the board passed its 2020-2021 tentative budget, which will now be submitted to the executive county superintendent of schools for approval.

According to the board’s agenda, the tentative budget stands at $41,040,909, with a total tax levy of $26,879,725. For the upcoming fiscal year, Eastern will receive $8,731,241 in state aid, a decrease of approximately 4.1 percent from the prior year.

For the average assessed home value of $259,460 in Voorhees Township, the estimated annual increase is $40. For the average assessed home value of $223,400, Gibbsboro residents should expect to see an estimated increase of $95, despite a decrease last year.

Meanwhile, for the average assessed home value of $233,600 in Berlin Borough, there will be a decrease of approximately $80 from the prior year. According to Business Administrator Diana Schiraldi, the budget represents a 2-percent increase in the tax levy from the prior year.

The board also approved capital projects that include the replacement of three HVAC rooftop units above the school’s gymnasium; resurfacing of the tennis court and a portion of the parking lot; renovations to the sound and lighting systems of the auditorium; and upgrades to the classroom HVAC system, for the amount of $2,432,575.

The board will hold a public hearing regarding the budget on Wednesday, May 6, but its next meeting is Wednesday, April 15, 7:30 p.m., at the board of education office.