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School Board approves 2020-21 budget

OFFICIAL from Haddonfield School District on May 1, 2020

On Thursday, April 30, 2020, the Haddonfield Board of Education approved a $37.4M budget for the 2020-2021 academic year.

This dollar amount represents a $735,000 or 2% increase from last year. Haddonfield residents living in a home valued at $500,000 will see an annual increase to their property taxes of $62.

Board Secretary Michael Catalano made a presentation that highlighted, among other things, additions to instructional staff due to projected enrollments; supplies and training for the new AP Capstone Program; professional development for math instruction in grades K-8; the expansion of the district’s 1:1 Chromebook program to include grades 5 and 11; new classroom furniture that will support flexible learning environments; staff training for project-based learning; and capital improvements such as the new C-wing Air-Handling Unit addition.

“Creating the annual budget is a difficult balancing act for Board members,” said Adam Sangillo, Board President. “We try to be mindful of the community’s heavy tax burden and yet we must provide appropriate funding so that our students can thrive and achieve.”

Catalano went into some detail about numerous expenditures in the area of Safety and Security. The district will continue to fund a Student Resource Officer at Haddonfield Memorial High School (HMHS) as well as the Raptor Visitor Management System that was installed in all school buildings last year. In progress are security projects including new secure vestibules in Tatem and Elizabeth Haddon Elementary Schools; window covers for all interior classroom doors; and the RULER emotional intelligence program initiated last fall to support the district’s Social-Emotional Learning goals.

“RULER stands for recognizing, understanding, labeling, expressing, and regulating emotions,” said Dr. Gino Priolo, Director of Special Education and Co-Chair of the Social-Emotional Learning Committee. “Teaching the adults and students in our schools how to recognize and manage emotions is equally important to the physical plant hardening plans that the district has undertaken over the past two years. When we improve school climate and address our social and emotional skills, we can identify mental health issues more readily and ultimately make our schools safer places to teach and learn.”

New Security expenditures include a digital floor-mapping system for first responders navigating our buildings in a crisis; security cameras throughout our district; and a new Student Assistance Coordinator/Crisis Counselor (SAC) who will work with students who are identified as being at risk, again for the purpose of identification and intervention before problems can occur.

“The new full time SAC position replaces a part-time social worker position,” said HMHS Principal Tammy McHale. “This person will offer staff training, will develop procedures for various crisis situations, will design programs and will provide counseling for students and parents.”

“We are completely aware that the repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic could change state funding drastically,” said Sangillo. “We are going to be hyper-vigilant in our planning over the next few years as we see how the intermediate and long term impacts of this unprecedented time unfold.”