Public Meetings Continue For School District Bond Referendum

By Frank Sinatra, AAP Editor

With less than a month and a half away until the bond referendum vote on March 13, the Pennsauken School District is holding several events to inform residents about the proposed initiative designed to make significant improvements to all public schools throughout Pennsauken. In addition to District representatives making presentations to local community groups in the next few weeks, there will be several meetings this month for the public to attend, ask questions, and be informed.

On Saturday, Feb. 10, from 2:00-5:00 p.m., there will be a special dinner and referendum meeting at The Pub, 7600 Kaighns Ave. in Pennsauken. The District will host a presentation about the referendum and also honor Mr. Dennis Armento, a Pennsauken High School teacher who passed away in 2016. The cost for dinner is just $25 per person and includes a three-course meal – salad bar, choice of one of four entrees, and dessert – as well as unlimited soda, coffee, and tea. Attendees can R.S.V.P. at Payment will be made the day of the event at The Pub.

There will be two “Chat and Chew” events at the Pennsauken Free Public Library, 5605 N. Crescent Blvd., where the public will be able to learn about the upcoming referendum vote and ask questions. These will occur on Thursday, Feb. 15 and Tuesday, Feb. 27; both will be held in the Library’s Community Room at 7:00 p.m.

On Monday, Feb. 19 at 7:00 p.m., the will be a public meeting at Roosevelt Elementary School, 5526 Wisteria Ave. District officials will be on hand to discuss the referendum and talk in length about the high tech high school proposed at Roosevelt.

“We invite to public to come out and hear about how we will put close to $36 million into our district while decreasing school taxes,” says Dr. Ronnie Tarchichi, superintendent, Pennsauken Public Schools. “This referendum is not just for one building; it completes the entire district.”

The proposed referendum addresses a variety of projects in every part of the District, including new security vestibules at all schools; capital improvement to elementary schools with new windows and doors; the establishment of all-day pre-school; the demolition of an aging Longfellow Elementary and the erection of a comprehensive community park and playground in the school’s old footprint; the addition of three new science labs and six additional classrooms at Phifer Middle School; the transformation of Roosevelt Elementary into a high-tech magnet high school, with the addition of a brand new gymnasium; and extensive renovations at Pennsauken High School, with improvement being made to the auditorium, library, locker rooms, and gymnasium; and construction of a plumbing lab. The proposal also adds significant improvements to the high school that will benefit the student-athlete. Plans call for the building of a brand new, state-of-the-art field house, new tennis courts, and an all purpose turf field, lights, and an eight-lane track.

The timing of this referendum couldn’t be more beneficial, according to District officials. With the retirement of the bond debt from the building of Fine, Delair, and Intermediate schools, the proposed bond referendum will actually reduce school taxes. For example, a resident with an assessed home of approximately $140,000 will see a reduction of $11.06; these savings take into account both the comprehensive improvements and the District’s regular operating budget.

Residents Learn More About Longfellow Project

Last month, over 40 people attended a public referendum discussion at Longfellow Elementary School. The meeting had a particular focus on the Longfellow portion of the project. Current plans call for the demolition of Longfellow, which is in severe disrepair, and the building of a comprehensive community park and playground in the school’s old footprint. Students throughout the District would visit the grounds for monthly field trips; and the community would also be able to take advantage of the facilities, which will include walking path, gazebo, and pickleball courts.

“We wanted to put something together that’s beneficial for our students, but is also something that gives back to the community,” says JoAnn Young, member of Pennsauken’s Board of Education.

Many in attendance had questions about the Longfellow portion of the referendum. Dr. Tarchichi answered participants, explaining that with Longfellow closing, the District will work to keep the students from this community together in one school, so that they continue to learn with the friends they’ve grown up with. And while Longfellow’s state of disrepair requires that the building must come down, the park concept is not set in stone. In fact, if the referendum passes, the entire Pennsauken community will be polled on whether or not they want a park built in the school’s footprint.

“We’re going to survey the community to see what they want. The Pennsauken community has a vested interest in this,” says Tarchichi about the Longfellow project. “If this park is not part of the referendum, the funds go back to residents through an increased school tax reduction.”

Several residents took time after the meeting to share their thoughts on the presentation.

“I liked the presentation,” says Amy Chess, a longtime Pennsauken resident. “I got a lot of information.”

“The presentation was great,” says Patricia Eubanks, who moved to the Township in 1996. “I am so ‘yes’ on the park. We need a park on this side of town.”

Kevin Laurick is a lifelong Pennsauken resident who attended Longfellow Elementary as a child. He expressed some sadness regarding the building’s demolition, but was positive overall about the proposed initiative.

“It’s a shame they’re tearing it down, but it is in bad shape. I understand why they’re doing it,” says Laurick. “I like everything they’re doing with [the referendum]. I’d prefer the park over all the other things suggested.

“One of my main concerns was where my daughter was going; she had all of her friends there. They’re trying to keep everyone together. I’m hoping they can do it.”

Open House And Referendum Meeting 

On Sunday, Jan. 28, members of the Pennsauken community had an opportunity to not only tour Pennsauken High School, but also learn about the upcoming bond referendum vote slated for March 13.

Dr. Tarchichi and School Board President Nick Perry addressed the group of several dozen people, once again highlighting what the almost $36 million investment would mean to the Pennsauken School District if the referendum passes. The residents in attendance were engaged during the presentation and there was a productive Q&A session afterwards.

“I think the presentation was informative,” says Robin Schneider, who grew up in Merchantville, but recently moved to Pennsauken after living several years in Arizona. “It was worth my time to come down and learn about the programs that will be proposed and the changes that the school district needs in order to be competitive in the educational community.”

For more information about the proposed bond referendum, video presentations, upcoming community meetings and more, visit

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