Teachers negotiated modest salary increases through the 2017 school year; meanwhile, the district will pass on matched funds as it prepares a thorough infrastructure assessment.
By Matt Skoufalos
Four months after announcing that an agreement had been structured with its teachers union, the Haddonfield Board of Education formally ratified a new contract last week that secures 2.7-, 2.5-, and 2.3-percent salary increases for educators in the 2014-2017 school years.
“We thought it was a very positive process,” said Haddonfield Superintendent of Schools Richard Perry, who described the deal as “pretty much a status quo” with “no major givebacks on either side.
“The contract was pretty strong,” Perry said. “We’ve spent years developing it. We were just happy to come to a settlement.”
With those financials in place, the district continues to crunch numbers for its 2015 budget presentation.
Another component of that calculus could have been a capital referendum in March, but those recommendations were returned to subcommittee in November to be included in “more of an evaluative assessment of everything within the district,” Perry said.
“Right now I think we have old buildings, but they’re very well maintained,” the superintendent said. “There are multiple roofs around the district that we’re taking a look at; HVAC is always a hot topic, electrical needs.”
The most significant infrastructure planning on the horizon for Haddonfield will involve building capacity sufficient to address its increasing student enrollment, Perry said.
“I’m concerned about space,” he said. “Right now, we’re maxed out in all of our school buildings and population continues to grow.
“In most school systems, enrollment’s going down, whereas in Haddonfield it’s rising,” he said. “It’s because people want to move into town.”
Haddonfield does not participate in the Interdistrict Public School Choice program, and Perry said that the district is “actually having to tail back on the number of tuition students that we can take.” He credited the trend in enrollment growth to interest in the town and the high-achieving district.
“People want to live in Haddonfield and go to school here,” Perry said. “Not just academically, but in terms of extracurriculars and the arts, we outperform many other areas, and the students are phenomenal.”
With capital projects off the table, Haddonfield will forfeit $6.9 million in matching state funds that would have paid a percentage of the renovation costs, Perry said.
“We’ll miss the deadline in August, so we’ll have to look at other means of getting state matching funds for our infrastructure needs,” he said.
Those could include debt service and “probably another round of ROD (Regular Operating District) grants,” the superintendent said, pointing out that Haddon Township, West Deptford, and Cinnaminson “all took advantage of and passed sizable bond measures” for such work last year.