Indian Mills students will return for five day learning in April

School board addresses budget, new music equipment at meeting

Shamong’s students will go back to school full time on April 12, Superintendent Christine Vespe announced at a March 16 school board meeting, where Business Administrator Laura Archer also presented the district’s tentative budget for the 2021-’22 school year.

Students will return to the district’s two buildings with 3 foot social distancing, something more than 85 percent of parents surveyed said they’re comfortable with. Remote students will have the option to continue learning from home.

“Our protocols are working,” Vespe said, noting that the district has a transmission rate of zero. “This will really give us a chance to look at everything we’re doing and how it’s working in preparation for September and having everybody return for a full day.”

The board approved the plan unanimously; it now awaits approval from the Burlington County Superintendent.

Also at the meeting, Archer presented a tentative budget for the 2021-’22 school year. The district is losing more than $353,000 in state funding as part of scheduled cuts, about 10 percent more than in 2020-’21. To fill the gap, the district will use its 2 percent tax levy, so most residents will see a 3 cent tax increase for every $100 in home value.

“We are well within where we need to be and maintaining all of our programs, services and staffing,” Archer explained. 

The board approved the draft of the budget, which can be amended through April 27, when it will receive a public hearing.

Indian Mills Memorial School’s music teachers Ruthie Stitt and Susan Styers gave a presentation on newly acquired equipment funded by an Every Student Succeeds Act grant.

The school was able to purchase two violas, one cello, one double bass, five acoustic guitars, a digital keyboard, sheet music books and a portable PA system.

“What’s special about these instruments is that they are very high quality,” Stitt said. “This grant enabled us to get instruments that I would venture to say most middle schools don’t have.”

The instruments and equipment will benefit the school’s band and general music curriculum, as well as school musicals and events.

“It’s been really great for the students,” Stitt remarked. “Thank you so much to the entire administration for supporting a really wonderful music department here in Shamong Township. We’re really very grateful.”

The next board of education meeting will be held on April 20.