HomeCherry Hill NewsStudents and parents offer feedback on sixth grade center

Students and parents offer feedback on sixth grade center

Second town hall an opportunity for questions from residents

The Cherry Hill school district held its second town hall on middle-school redistricting on Jan. 26, when parents and community members shared their thoughts and had some of their questions answered. 

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The town hall began with a presentation reviewing the five options offered by the middle-school redistricting committee and the two  recommended to the board for consideration. Option four is the creation of a sixth grade center at Rosa International Middle School (with the same sending schools for Beck and Carusi middle schools).

Option five splits Barton Elementary School students between Carusi and Rosa –  depending on whether students live north or south of Route 70 – and would have students from Johnson, Mann and Woodcrest elementary also attending Rosa.

During the town hall, parents and students urged the board to keep current students where they are when redistricting begins and not to pursue option four. They explained that the additional transitions are unwanted and unnecessary given the disruptions experienced by students since the pandemic began. 

Board of Education Vice President Miriam Stern moderated the discussion and was asked by parents if some of their anxiety could be alleviated and whether or not the board would decide on a sixth grade center. She explained that the purpose of the evening was for the board to hear community feedback and said  it was to have formal discussions at its Feb. 8 session.

“I think that many of us right now have students in schools that have experienced the same disruptions that your students have all experienced, the same social and emotional challenges,” Stern noted.

“… I think we all have our opinions, (but) quite honestly, under the leadership of our new Board President (Dr. Benjamin Ovadia), his charge is, ‘Look, it’s disingenuous to start stating opinions and start voting on things before we’ve had true community input,’” she added. “So that’s really why there hasn’t been any statement from the board or any vote for the board.”

While the proposed timeline notes that decisions should be made in February, Stern said the board could extend the timeline if needed.

Other concerns presented during the town hall revolved around Rosa. Students now have to apply to the school through an open-enrollment process, and those  who don’t apply or who are not selected will attend either Beck or Carusi based on boundary guidelines.

As for redistricting the three middle schools, this year will be the last for Rosa to accept students based on a selection process. With a Feb. 25 deadline fast approaching, several parents voiced concerns that there was not enough information to make an informed decision on applying, since the board has not made clear whether students would be allowed to stay at their given school or would have to attend another when redistricting goes into effect.

School Superintendent Joseph Meloche explained that the planning has been done by an administrative group that met and considered options. 

“Until the board makes a decision on what direction they want to go, those other stakeholder groups (teachers, parents, students) would then be brought in at that point,” he said. “But at this point, it has been that administrative group and the board members that are now engaging in conversations.”

In addition to the Jan. 26 town hall, the district also held a virtual town hall to discuss special-education and middle-school redistricting on Feb. 3. from 7 to 8:30 p.m.

The Jan. 26 town hall is available to view on the district’s YouTube channel, and presentations can be found at www.chcl.org.

Further comments on the redistricting can be sent to msfeedback@chclc.org



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