The Cherry Hill board of education began its Feb. 28 meeting by recognizing winners of a Black History Month essay contest.
The contest is sponsored by the township’s African American Civic Association (CHAACA) and named for urban strategist Rev. Ivan George. Students submit essays, posters or videos that touch on Black inventors and innovators.
While there were more than 110 entries from across 13 schools, the contest had 19 winners in all grade levels. The CHAACA’s Cathy Jenkins gave a shout out to the four teachers at Horace Mann Elementary School who incorporated the contest into their classroom projects.
Winners included: Khloe Anderson, Amira Austin, Lindsay Langman, Chase Williams, Elliott Huang, Andrew Langman, Lydia Na, Juliya Robertson, Xavier Austin, Katherine Gao, Claire Li, Wolfgang Drake, Valerie Herman, Allison Kang, Alexander Kang, Priya Tyagi, Grace Yoon, Nathanael Bereketab and Diane Sosa.
Following the presentation and two student performances of the upcoming musicals at Cherry Hill East (Into the Woods) and West (The Lightning Thief: Percy Jackson the Musical), Business Administrator Lynn Shugars provided a budget update.
While the numbers are subject to change – depending on state aid to be determined – the board has not yet factored in debt service aid from the bond referendum.
“Once we know what our debt service aid is going to be, we’ll be able to add that impact in,” Shugars explained. “That is not part of our budget approval process, because the bond referendum has already been approved by the voters.
“However, we do factor that in when determining the tax impact of the budget, so we know that in ‘23-’24, we will be paying over $11 million in principal and over $11 million in interest,” she added. “So we know there’s going to have to be a $22-million payment that has to be made out of the debt service fund, but we don’t know what that tax impact looks like just yet.”
A 2-percent increase in the general tax fund levy amounts to $3.7 million, about $104.98 higher per the average assessed home valued at $227,000 this year. Between the revised budget for 2022-’23 and this year’s proposed plan, there is a difference of about 0.2 percent, or $392,644, because of an increase in salaries and benefits and a decrease in funds for capital outlay and capital reserve projects being done through the bond referendum.
The preliminary budget anticipates that the amount of state aid received will be the same as last year, the same local revenues and no new programs or personnel added. It also does not include funding for preschool.
Next steps for the district include incorporating the actual state aid into the budget, and finalizing the tax levy and health benefits estimates and the ROD Grant application, which would fund 40 percent of capital needs projects.
“The district would still have to come up with 60 percent for a project, (but we’re) not allowed to use bond referendum funds,” Shugars noted. “(We) must use capital reserve or budget funds for these projects, so (we’re) somewhat limited in what we can do because of that. But we’re taking a look and talking to our architect about what makes sense moving forward.”
The budget is expected to come before the board again on March 14.
In other news:
- The board formally abolished the Road Forward policy and School Employee Vaccination Requirements set in place during COVID
- The district accepted a $650 donation from the West boys swim team for the Jeff Miller Fund, and $1,000 from the Dan Melleby Foundation for additional opportunities and staff.
The next board meeting will be on Tuesday, March 14, at 6:30 p.m.