Board of education approves grade change policy, course revisions

Agreement between board and district teachers’ union gets the OK.

At its final public meeting of the calendar year, Haddonfield’s board of education passed a series of policies upon first reading. Chief among them were alterations made to the grading system and its regulation at the high-school level. 

While Haddonfield Middle School will see no change to its A to F, 10-point scale, Haddonfield Memorial High School’s grading system will undergo slight changes within its own 10-point, A to F system. 

Targeted for elimination are A-minus, B-minus, C-minus and D-plus designations. Therefore, upon eventual approval, grades in the D range will be marked from 60 to 69; the C range will progress from 70 to 79, with only C-plus remaining (76 to 79); B grades will be from 80 to 85 and B-plus from 86 to 89; and for the highest letter grade, the A range will be set from 90 to 96,  with A-plus from 97 to 100.  

Second reading and public comment is expected to occur at the board’s monthly virtual session in late January. A full explanation of policy alterations can be found by visiting  https://boe.haddonfieldschools.org/policies/, under the heading Draft Policies. 

Per the board’s consent, improvements to curriculum across the district will arrive via course revisions to include a more integrative approach to LGBTQIA issues. Among the offerings expected to receive those upgrades are HS Renaissance to Rock; 3D Art; Middle School World Language; Music Recording and Engineering; and courses intended for art majors as well as those who participate in concert band. 

In addition, a pair of new courses were approved for the middle school (Theatre Arts, Dance) and high schools (Senior College Math, AP Research) for the 2021-’22 academic year. 

Earlier in the session, Board Negotiations Chair Tom Vecchio revealed he and his colleagues would approve the Memorandum of Agreement for a new contract with the Haddonfield Education Association, the union that represents district teachers. Members of the HEA had been working without a formalized deal since the previous one’s expiration on June 30. 

“I’d like to thank (Co-Presidents) Sean (Sweeney) and Rachel (Gould), who stuck with us through this process, continued to work at it and kept their eyes on the ball. I think we all kept our eyes on the ball and got this done. And now we get to celebrate,” Vecchio said. “Thanks to Adam (Board President Sangillo) for sitting shotgun with me for these last couple of weeks of work.”

Voting on approval at the meeting itself was initially tabled by the board, which opted to enter an executive session for further discussion, roughly 90 minutes in. When the nine-member body emerged almost a half-hour later, it unanimously ratified the agreement. 

No terms of the deal were disclosed. 

In other news:

  • The board commended students from Central Elementary School for positive habits: Zoe Baskies, Lucas Hyman, Sydney Schultz and Kenley Singleton. Central Principal Shannon Simkus made a virtual presentation of the honors to the group.
  • Anti-Bullying Coordinator Sandra Horwitz presented the biannual HIB (Harassment, Intimidation and Bullying) report. Covering the period from Sept. 1 to Jan. 1, Horwitz revealed there were just five reports of HIB, three of which were investigated, leading to only a single confirmed case, at Haddonfield Memorial High School, based on race.
  • Superintendent Chuck Klaus reported the district’s COVID-19 count rose to 53 cases since the start of the school year on Sept. 8, with eight active cases confirmed in the 14 days prior to the meeting. According to Klaus’ brief presentation, the largest single spike of combined positive cases from students and staff occurred during the week of Nov. 19.
  • The board’s next public session is its annual reorganization meeting, scheduled for Jan. 7.