Maple Shade school district holding vote on $49.7M improvement plan

Jim Walsh, Cherry Hill Courier-Post Published 5:00 p.m. ET Oct. 9, 2018

MAPLE SHADE - The school district is seeking voter approval for a $49.7 million improvement program.

The two-part proposal would expand Maude Wilkins Elementary School; add an auxiliary gym to Maple Shade High School; and install security vestibules and interior doors at district schools, among other changes.

It might even give a thirsty kid a drink — thanks to planned upgrades for Depression-era water fountains that don’t always work.

Maple Shade Referendum

But the changes would come at a price.

Two bonds to finance improvements would boost annual property taxes by up to $180 for an average house assessed at $158,914.

That projected increase reflects annual savings of $59.52 for an average home when existing debt matures in 2019-20, Superintendent Beth Norcia said Tuesday.

The district, which has a tax calculator at its website, says the overall cost would be defrayed by state aid of $17.5 million, or 35 percent of eligible costs.

In addition, a grant would pay for a security vestibule and other safety upgrades at the high school.

Residents will vote Dec. 11 on two ballot questions. The first question would need approval before the second could be passed.

The first ballot question, with a $43 million price tag, carries a tax impact of $147.61 for an average home, the district says. It would add nine classrooms at Maude Wilkins to support a preschool expansion planned for the 2020-21 school year.

The district recently received a $1.1 million state grant to provide a full-day preschool program to 90 4-year-olds. “The participant number is only capped because of the availability of classroom space,” said Superintendent Beth Norcia said in a recent letter to parents. She said Question 1, if passed, “will enable more classroom space for preschool aged students.”

The district would continue to offer a half-day program for 3-year-olds, Norcia noted.

The changes also would allow the district to consolidate all second- through fourth-grade classes at Maude Wilkins, with younger children attending Yocum Elementary School.

The district says that would provide "much-needed space at Yocum, where small-group instruction often takes place in a hallway or stairwell."


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