The Haddonfield School District held 15 visioning and stakeholder meetings with students, staff and community members last year to help shape its 2023 bond referendum.
Discussions included internal upgrades and how to use the Hopkins parcel acquired in a land swap with the borough. Superintendent Chuck Klaus also said he anticipates more meetings and updates on referendum projects.
“At the Jan. 19 meeting, we’ll give a very general overview of the scope of work, like what we’re trying to accomplish specifically,” Klaus said. “At that time, all the architects, records and drawings will go to the DOE (Department of Education) for approval and we’re hoping by February or March to come back with costs and tax impacts.”
In an interview with The Sun, Klaus said the district is considering the purchase of the Kingsway Learning Center building on Kings Highway. The initial idea was that it could be used for an early childhood center. If the district moves forward with the deal, it could shift the referendum from September to December.
“There’s a lot of challenges because of pickup and dropoff, where it’s located, does the space work? – there are answers we can’t have because our architects and engineers can’t get into the building right now,” Klaus explained. “There’s factors about its location that could make having an early childhood center very difficult to happen there. We would have to explore all possibilities.”
Outside of the referendum, the district will consider bids for bathroom upgrades, a project to be funded by ESSER (Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief) funds. Money for completed roof work and an elevator replacement at the high school will come out of capital reserves.
During the November elections, residents and candidates for the Equity Council agreed the panel was a good idea in theory, but needs revamping. Klaus explained that the group is creating bylaws to help restructure and regulate itself. Participants are teachers, administrators, board of ed members and people in the community.
“We didn’t have bylaws before, so we were just meeting and doing stuff and really an organization like that, we need to have bylaws,” Klaus said. “… We’re going back to create bylaws to make sure that we have guidance on how we act. The goals would not change.”
The Equity Council’s goal is to consider how the district can become better at being culturally responsive. In the past, that response has resulted in events like the World Cafe’s conversations on diversity and inclusion in Haddonfield and meetings with students and affinity groups.
“There are some people who said they couldn’t get access to (the council), and we wanted to make sure everyone had access to it,” said Klaus, who hopes to have some version of the panel meeting in January.
In the spring, Klaus also hopes to revisit the district’s strategic plan, now nearly four years old.
“That’ll be a four- to six-month process of community involvement,” he added.
The next board of education meeting is Jan. 5 at 7 p.m.