Cherry Hill’s board of education gathered on Valentine’s Day for a regular session in which members gave updates from committee meetings, the number of which has gone from four on one evening to two over a two-day period.
Board member Gina Winters also announced the district hopes to apply for the preschool expansion grant in the fall.
“We’re continuing to discuss the best way to move forward with the implementation process,” Winters said. “It’s not going to happen wholesale this coming fall, but it’s something that we need a plan for to move forward.”
Winters noted that the number of anticipated preschool students was calculated by doubling the current number of first graders. The estimated preschool universe would be about 1,700 kids, she added.
The target for the state is to be able to serve 90 percent of the 3- and 4-year-olds in the district within the first five years.
It was also clarified that with middle-school redistricting, students will be moved according to their home school and not their attending school. For example, if a student’s home school is Woodcrest, but he or she attends Stockton due to open enrollment, that pupil would be sent to the middle school Woodcrest is assigned to, not the one he or she currently attends.
During the meeting’s Business and Finance Committee report, board Vice President Joel Mayer acknowledged discussions about possible healthier breakfast options that were appreciated by members of the community.
In his public comments, resident Nick Gaudio raised concerns over a recent educational meeting held at Rosa Middle School for students participating in “Seussical Jr.,” during which students were said to have listened to a presentation by a Rosa parent about “how Dr. Seuss was a racist and how the books and the play included symbols of racism, specifically monkeys, which were made to represent Black people.”
“The presentation continued to talk about Dr. Seuss’ racist history towards various other non- WASP demographic groups, and by the end of it, many students were left feeling confused and unexcited about the play,” Gaudio added. He also said that the students voted on the show they wanted to do and Seussical Jr. was fourth on the list, though that claim could not be confirmed.
“If they felt this was overstated, this suspicion of racism, or if they felt it was sustained, they could make that decision, vote it down and they could still be in the play,” Gaudio pointed out after the meeting.
Rosa’s principal did not respond to a request for comment. Superintendent Dr. Joseph Meloche confirmed that a discussion did take place over the weekend and that there was a similar situation last year during sessions about the film “Moana.”
In action items, the board did the following:
- Approved a partial roof replacement for Cherry Hill East and a partial roof restoration at Cooper, Knight and Sharp schools
- Approved bids for 2022-’23 bus routes
- Accepted $650 in donations from the Cherry Hill West boys swim team to benefit the Jeff Miller Fund and $1,000 from the Dan Melleby Foundation for student opportunities and other programs
- Abolished the Road Forward COVID19 Health and Safety policy as well as school employee vaccination requirements
- Approved transfer of funds from various security projects to fund the $80,000 Malberg playground upgrade.
The next board of education is on Tuesday, Feb. 28, at 6:30 p.m.