Land swap completion is opportunity for community input

District to hold two public meetings, one on Hopkins parcel

EMILY LIU/The Sun

As Haddonfield students adjust to a new school year, the board of education continues to move forward with planning for district-wide improvements. 

Since the decade-long land swap with the borough has been completed and long-range facility planning for a bond referendum is in the works, the district will review its options and engage with the community over the next few weeks to discuss what people would like to see and what the best options are.

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Superintendent Chuck Klaus said that in the last week of September or the first week of October, the district plans to hold two community meetings, one focused on the use of the Hopkins parcel acquired through the land swap, and the other on how much people would like to restructure classrooms.

“When you look at a classroom, making an improvement on classrooms can be as much as new paint, new ceiling tiles and new furniture,” Klaus said. “That’s something that’ll make every classroom nicer. But do we want to do more than that?”

In a survey of what the community would like to see improved as part of next year’s referendum, one question concerned how to use the Hopkins parcel. The top three choices were to use it for a new performing arts center, an event hall or a new pool. Klaus noted that another option would be to use the parcel for athletic fields.

When we talk about what would be the best use of the land, obviously cost is going to come into play,” Klaus noted. “ … If one costs four times more than the other, that is a  factor too.” 

In the upcoming school year, the district will begin its audit of the English Language Arts (ELA) program, to make sure it aligns with state standards. Klaus will meet with teachers in the upcoming weeks to hear what needs to be improved; the last audit was four or five years ago.

For math, Klaus said the district would use Desmos this year, and the history audit will take place next year. The administration continues to work on updating the health and physical education curriculum to meet state standards. As referenced at a previous board meeting, drafts of the updates are available on the district website. .

As for the world language teacher shortage referenced at the last board session, Klaus said retired German teacher Christopher Gwin stepped up to help teach elementary-school world language, alongside two middle-school Spanish teachers who agreed to also teach at the elementary school. 

The district has also welcomed about 16 new staff members and several new administrators, including:

  • Donnetta Beatty as the new principal of Tatem Elementary School, replacing Kimberly Dewrell.
  • Hamisi Tarrant, previously dean of students at the high school, as the new principal of the middle school. 
  • Gregory Eiding as the new dean of students at the high school.

“We’re excited to have the kids back in school,” Klaus said. “The teachers and the administration and the board all do what they do because it’s their passion to work with and help children. So right now, with the kids coming back, it’s always an exciting time.”

The next board of education meeting will be on Sept. 22 at 7 p.m. at the high-school library.

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