Dear Board of Education: We Need Your Help; Can You Answer These Questions for Us?

The second half of Cherry Hill High School Easts B-wing, where the Alternative High School will be located next year.
The second half of Cherry Hill High School East’s B-wing, where the Alternative High School will be located next year.
Asher Boiskin and Danny Ovadia

BOARD OF EDUCATION, have you visited your new Alternative High School in the B-wing of Cherry Hill High School East? Have you walked into one of the seven classrooms? Did you attend one of our amazing social studies classes? Were you cognizant of the fullness of the class sizes? How did you feel entering the places that many teachers have called home for much of their careers?

What will happen to the social studies faculty room and speech therapy room? Will they become assets of the Alternative High School? To what extent will this decision impact teacher morale for the teachers losing access to their faculty lounge? Where will the school continue providing speech therapy services? Will a new room be built? How will students who rely on the all gender bathroom in B-wing be impacted? Will the district create a new bathroom for them to use? 

Did you solicit feedback from East students and faculty before making this decision? What communication did the district have with Dr. Perry and other administrators? What about those at the Alternative High School? Have you met with the Cherry Hill Special Education Parent Teacher Association? When you say that this decision has been part of an ongoing “discussion that’s two decades old,” how come this move feels so sudden? Why now, and why not later? 

How come East faculty were only notified about this decision one day before it became public knowledge? If “community feedback is [so] important,” why does it feel like this decision was made in a vacuum? What exactly about this decision incorporates the community voice you always talk about? Why have so many questions from students, faculty, and community members gone unanswered?

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What should taxpayers now expect? Does this decision come in light of the $6.9 million budget cuts that Cherry Hill Public Schools face? What new costs will the district incur? Will the district save money? Why do you claim that you “have not had conversations yet” about budget implications, but have considered this change for more than a decade? Over the years that this decision has been in the making, did you never think to evaluate its effects on our district budget?

What can East students expect? What can Alternative High School students expect? How do you plan to transition students used to a small school setting to East, which has more than two thousand students? How will this impact students with 504s and individualized educational plans, especially those who need smaller class sizes to have academic success? Will students retain the special education plans they need? In a school that has time and time again come under fire for having an unwelcoming environment, how will you ensure that students from the Alternative High School feel included? 

Are the rumors true? What will happen to the Lunch & Learn program at East? Should students brace themselves to have homeroom next year, rather than the current flexibility they have? Will the extra space in the Arthur Lewis Administration Building go to administrators? What do they need additional office space for? Does the district plan on (a) hiring more administrative staff (b) selling what will become a mostly out-of-use building or (c) using the property for student activities? 

Why does it seem like we have spent more time thinking about this than the district?

Can we all expect answers to our questions and concerns? 

What is taking so long?


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