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BOE Prez: Moorestown Has 'A Lot on Our Plate' in 2014

School Board President Don Mishler discusses the most pressing issues facing the school district this year.

The Moorestown Board of Education has a lot on its plate in 2014, according to the board president. Credit: Rob Scott
The Moorestown Board of Education has a lot on its plate in 2014, according to the board president. Credit: Rob Scott

Following a challenging 2013, Moorestown School District faces another big year in 2014.

School Board President Don Mishler, who was reelected Tuesday night—along with Vice President Kathy Goldenberg—discussed the most pressing issues ahead of the district this year, saying, “We’ve got a lot on our plate.”

Crafting a strategic plan. Everyone on the board and everyone involved with the school system wants Moorestown to be a “preeminent school district,” said Mishler. The mission for 2014 will be articulating that goal into a clear set of strategies, and communicating that message to stakeholders.

“The real idea is to create a lens through which we view everything,” he said. “We have that now, but it’s not in a form we can communicate.”

Mishler explained the strategic plan—which he said will be “more of a statement of intent” than a stringent set of guidelines—will “cover everything we do, not just curriculum.”

And he expects the public to play a role in designing it, possibly through public meetings and the creation of a subcommittee involving members of the community.

“We need the statement, and we need to engage the community in this issue,” said Mishler.

Hiring a new superintendent. With three remaining candidates left in the search for an interim superintendent, the district is very close to replacing Brian Betze, who resigned abruptly over the summer.

The full board is expected to interview the three candidates—all retired superintendents from school districts similar to Moorestown—Thursday night, Mishler said. He anticipates, and hopes, the board will be able to whittle the crop down even further following the interviews.

None of the candidates are available to start prior to February, according to Mishler, who said the goal is to hire someone in the first quarter.

Bond referendum/capital projects. The state approved $11.7 million in aid for the district’s capital projects at the end of 2013—though officials are still waiting to learn exactly what they can use the money for.

Once the district gets direction from the state, Mishler said he anticipates “a lot of planning attached to that.”

How much of the district’s plan—which originally encompassed $40 million of work at all six schools—is actually included in the final version is still unclear. Regardless, the district will have to put a bond referendum to the voters—possibly toward the end of the year—in order to raise the local share.

Mishler explained, “What we’re trying to do is make this a tax-neutral event for the taxpayers.”

A ‘responsible and financially sustainable’ budget. Speaking of taxpayers, after passing a 2013-14 budget with a small tax increase, the board once again faces the challenge of crafting a budget that is fair to students, staff and taxpayers.

Mishler said the budget must be “well thought-out, and with community input.”

Expect the school board to begin discussing and holding meetings on the 2014-15 budget in the coming weeks and months.

What issue would you like to see the school district address this year? Tell us in the comments below.
Townie January 09, 2014 at 08:04 AM
I'm continuously underwhelmed by Mishler. If you read the "Strategic Plan" section...he says nothing. Preeminent school district...someone please define that for me. Is it being in the top 50 or 60 schools in NJ (where MHS is usually ranked)? Is it being better? We have a lens to view all of this through now, but we just can't share it? Are we just that stupid we couldn't possibly understand it, or is it possible the "lens" is still being built? The strategic plan is a statement of intent? If so, don't call it a plan. Hiring a re-tread from a district "just like Moorestown" is a joke. I'm sure it was merely an oversight, but what about the pending crisis on health care costs? Maybe we'll just wait until the next union contract to remember we really should look at that. Whatever you do, make sure you tell everyone we want to remain tax-neutral...they like that.
Tom January 09, 2014 at 08:58 AM
Townie: you should go to the BOE meetings and speak up or run for the BOE. We just had an election. Did you seek office? If you have so much to offer, grab a seat at the table and get involved.

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