Eastern discusses remote learning plan, potential graduation ceremonies

District works to recognize graduation within state guidelines

The Eastern Camden County Regional School District board of education met online May 20 to discuss its 2020-’21 budget and the continuation of remote learning.

Earlier in the month, the board held a public hearing regarding the total  budget for next year of $40,994,390, with $26,879,725 to be raised through the tax levy. According to municipal percent share, Voorhees Township and Gibbsboro residents will see an increase in taxes, while Berlin Borough taxes will decrease.

The model is a state-driven formula that takes into account student enrollment from the sending districts and equalized property values.

Gibbsboro residents with the average assessed home value of $223,400 will see an increase of approximately $96 in taxes, while Voorhees residents with the average assessed home value of $259,460 will see a hike of approximately $40.

Residents of Berlin Borough with the average assessed home value of $233,600 will see a decrease of approximately $80 next year.

During the May 20 meeting, district administrators presented an updated Remote Learning Days Preparedness Plan, with Superintendent Robert Cloutier and other administration members addressing the topic.

“We created the plan the week of March 9; we met as a faculty the week prior to that as conditions were becoming more uncertain,” said Cloutier. “By March 13, we had our plan ready to launch and we had shared it with parents that Friday morning. As conditions occurred, we decided, along with many other districts in Camden County, to initiate our remote learning plan on March 16.”

Acknowledging that the execution of such a plan would have growing pains, Cloutier said the district has learned important things along the way that have lead to a more complete plan.

Cloutier said the district currently plans for remote school events this summer, with the slight possibility that gatherings of some kind may be possible once restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic are eased or lifted. Discussions have included hosting graduation activities in July.

Cloutier is hopeful something will be worked out to accommodate district graduations. The superintendent noted that even raising the limit on gatherings from 10 to 25 people would allow for potential outdoor events.

At the meeting, Business Administrator Diana Schiraldi discussed providing  meals to all students who sign up as instructed by the state. Originally, the district was only feeding students who qualified for free and reduced lunch. But the expansion of the program via state directive has allowed the school to help more students. In total, the district has supplied meals to approximately 340 Eastern Regional students, as well as about 100 for students in local areas.

The link for the program can be found on the school’s website. The board’s next scheduled meeting is Tuesday, June 16, at 7 p.m.