A few years ago, during the numerous public meetings and intense debates about the future of the Bancroft Property that is directly adjacent to our high school, a colleague of mine suggested that I name my new Husky puppy, “Bancroft.”
At this time, I believed in a Vision of obtaining this property for both the school district and community in order to create a dynamic 21st Century high school campus and acquire Open Space funding to utilize the Bancroft Property for Open Space, recreational activities, and community park purposes. In addition, I was hoping to obtain this property for environmental instructional initiatives as well. HMHS has an outstanding environmental science program that is regionally recognized with collegial working partnerships with colleges and universities.
I truly believed and still believe that this property also will be needed someday in the future in order to address and resolve district wide enrollment needs, issues regarding classroom space that we are facing today, and for curricular needs involving possible expansion. Additionally, the options for expansion will enable the district to create a high school campus in which students can safely attend athletic events, for example, without driving significant distances to fields throughout town. All of these needs are critical for the future health of both our school district and community.
HMHS, although one of the best high schools in the nation, has the smallest high school campus in the Colonial Conference. Haddonfield School District also has one of the lowest cost-per pupil spending ratios in the state while delivering the highest performance. In addition, Haddonfield School District has the lowest number of administrators when compared to other school districts.
So what does all of this have to do with Bancroft and my Husky puppy, Apollo?
Like the Bancroft debates that have been going on for 15 years or so, coming to a decision or a direction to take has been as difficult as chasing Apollo in the backyard after a heavy snowstorm. Trying to catch him is almost impossible. Apollo, like Bancroft, has grown into something resembling a rare mystical creature. When Apollo charges around the backyard, especially in the snow, it’s like chasing a large white wolf along a mountaintop. He just refuses to be caught and come inside. Catching Apollo, like “catching” Bancroft, is well… elusive. Just as you think you have him, he lunges, showing his enormous power, and breaks free from the chains, the most recent “good idea and strategic plan.”
Now, after stating a few years ago that the town has two paths to take, one to the East or one to the West, there is yet another proposal for the Bancroft Property being considered. The road to the East, including school use and open space for future Haddonfield generations, has not, as of yet, been chosen.
But rather, the path to the West is being considered. What is on the path to the West? A Drug and Alcohol Residential Treatment Facility.
The Haddonfield Community should take this opportunity once again to reconsider the positives and negatives of proposed uses for Bancroft and what is truly in the best interests for our community and future generations. A couple of years ago, the school district’s bond referendum for Bancroft was decided upon by a very close vote with over 5,000 residents participating, more so than even in the presidential election. Only a difference of approximately 100 votes weighed in on the final outcome, signifying much support for the district’s Vision at that time.
Now, with renewed interests and oncoming debates about the future, it is our sincere Hope to welcome all concerned citizens to have their voices heard and their questions answered as to what is the best path to take in regard to Bancroft.
Watching Apollo gallantly charge through my backyard, I have Faith that the best choice will be made. We have an outstanding community and the best students in the state and nation. I have no doubt that we will persevere and succeed with our ultimate Vision by way of our intense community strength and courage.
My colleague was right. I should have named, Apollo, Bancroft.