The Cherry Hill school district continued its discussion on elementary redistricting at its March 22 meeting, and while no action was taken, the board did agree to rule out the “two-year lookback” for upper elementary-school students.
The “lookback’’ would have allowed students in fourth and fifth grade to remain in their current school buildings during the redistricting transition period that will begin in the 2023-’24 school year, a component similar to middle-school redistricting. The reason is that unlike the middle schools, there would not be space to keep current students with the redistricted ones. The move would also drive up transportation costs and make planning routes considerably harder.
Board members agreed on the importance of creating equity in class sizes to prevent overcrowding both at the elementary- and middle-school level. Looking more closely at that issue, board member Dr. Benjamin Rood cited an elementary- school desert on the west side of town.
“That creates a problem in and of itself, and coupled with the fact that it happens to be one of the highest-density areas, with the most population growth and with the most economically disadvantaged people, that creates a huge amount of difficulty in this whole process,” Rood noted.
“ … I want to think in terms of making sure every school has the same opportunities, and one of those opportunities is in how many students are at the school.”
School administrators will come up with different options for elementary redistricting and present options at a later meeting, as was done in middle-school redistricting.
Good news came from Dr. Kwame Morton, assistant superintendent. He announced that the COVID Activity Level (CALI) Report for the Camden County area is green for the first time since September 2020, meaning transmission is low. The Road Forward Committee has updated its virus mitigation strategies:
- Masks continue to be optional.
- Contact tracing, notification letters, temperature checks for school visitors and travel quarantines have ended.
- Locker rooms in the gym are open again.
- COVID-related bathroom restrictions have been lifted, though bathroom monitoring may still be implemented at some of the secondary schools based on discretion.
In other news
- The board approved book recommendations for the high school’s summer reading list, including “Patron Saints of Nothing,” “The Martian,” “By the Grace of the Game” and “Orphan Train.” The selection will later be narrowed to five of the seven recommended titles. Some books have mature themes and will come with a trigger warning when recommended.
- The board will be holding a town hall on Later Start Times on March 29 from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Malberg Administration Building and online.
The next board meeting will be a work session on April 12 at 6:30 p.m., at the Malberg Administration Building. It will be available remotely.