Home Haddonfield News School board discusses bond referendum updates

School board discusses bond referendum updates

Process began in 2022 after stakeholder input and visioning sessions

Emily Liu/The Sun
Haddonfield board discussed bond referendum at its recent meeting in February.

The Haddonfield board of education’s recently meeting included a Committee of the Whole session to discuss updates in the bond referendum process.

As Superintendent Chuck Klaus recapped, the process began in 2022 after stakeholder input and visioning sessions. The board explored the purchase of 144 Kings Highway West from November 2022 through February 2023, but decided against it last month.

“I think it’s important to note that this decision was based on an internal deadline that we set, that we knew if we didn’t have this in line by this point in time, we weren’t going to make the March referendum and we wouldn’t have the building,” Klaus explained. “So it was set on where we thought was a reasonable time to do it.

“We waited as long as we could, but given this date, we had to make a decision, so we did.”

Klaur also emphasized that while the board is resuming the referendum process, it is not starting from scratch.

“We’ve got a lot of information, a lot that’s going to inform where we’re going to move forward,” he noted.

The core areas of improvement the school district hopes to attain with the referendum remain the same: accessibility, additional classrooms, athletic facilities, auditoriums, early-childhood education, building investment and specialized learning and media centers.

The Kingsway Learning Center is no longer on the table, but Klaus noted that the board will explore other possible locations for additional classrooms to accommodate kindergarten and other potential increases in the student population that result from development.

Among options might be the repurposing of either 1 Lincoln Ave. or 95 Grove St., building on the Hopkins Parcel or constructing additions to the three elementary schools.

“We’re in a situation where more housing may go up, right now,” Klaus stated. ” … In first and second grade at two of our school buildings we are at max, so we at least have to have a contingency for what happens when we go above (that).”

Klaus also reviewed the pros and cons of each potential move. Neither 1 Lincoln Ave. nor 95 Grove St. met the spatial requirements to serve as a kindergarten center, he said. Building on the Hopkins Parcel may accomplish the goal of creating more space, but it has the same negatives as 144 Kings Highway West, namely that it could eliminate neighborhood schools for kindergarten, increase traffic and require students to be shuttled to school. Any new construction there also means less state aid, Klaus added.

Other items discussed at the meeting included using capital reserves for improvements to the athletic field separate from the referendum. The board will continue to solicit community input on the referendum, but no decisions were made at the meeting. And while there is no definite timeline for the measure, it is likely to be moved to December.

The full board session meeting is available for viewing on the school district’s YouTube channel. The next board of education meeting is on Thursday, Feb. 29, at 7 p.m.

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