NOVEMBER 9-15, 2011
Special to The Sun
Above, an artist’s rendering of what the South Annex of the Moorestown Friends School will looklike once renovations are completed there in 2012. The annex is located on the school’s Greenleafproperty, which was purchased several years ago. It’s all part of the school’s aggressive, $6 mil-lion capital campaign.
Friends School of the future
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INSIDE THIS ISSUE
Iconic Lourdes statue under-going make over.
PRSRT STDUS POSTAGE
PERMIT NO. 1239
BY KEVIN CANESSA JR.
The Moorestown Sun
For 20 years, Rich O’Donnellpatrolled the streets of Moorestown, many of whichwere as a sergeant. He was theface of the police department onthe streets, the man who wouldcome to scenes to make sureeverything was in proper order.Now, two years after his retire-ment from the force, O’Donnellhas taken on a completely differ-ent role – as the township’s resi-dency-enforcement officer. Andhis hiring, designed to save tax-payer money (it’s expensive toeducate children these days) bykeeping out-of-district studentsout of local schools, has alreadypaid off.“I started on March 1, andworked last school year throughJune 15,” O’Donnell said. “Inthat short time, we turned in 10students.”While the term “turned in”may seem overly official, what itreally means is those 10 studentsofficially withdrew fromMoorestown schools, and they re-turned to their home districts.This saved the district in morethan $100,000 in tuition, accord-ing to records.At present, parents of stu-dents who are asked to leave thedistrict aren’t charged with anycrime, though they could be inthe future.If a parent believes a child iswrongfully being asked to leavethe district, there’s an appeals’process. Parents would be re-quired to go before a state courtto argue the appeal. Yet in mostcases, O’Donnell says, when anout-of-districter is caught, par-ents generally realize their mis-take and pull the kids out of Moorestown schools.So just why did the school dis-trict decide it was time to takeaction and hire a residency offi-cer?O’Donnell says some on theschool board realized the prob-lem was growing. And, he says,it’s not that school officials didn’timmediately get that there was aproblem with out-of-towners, itsimply wasn’t a priority then – but it is now.“The superintendent and theboard knew there were other pro-grams in other districts like oursnow,” O’Donnell said. “Most of the programs were run by re-tired police officers. When thedistrict realized it was beingoverrun with out-of-district stu-dents, they knew it was time foraction.”And that action was to hireO’Donnell.So just how does he find stu-dents who shouldn’t be in the dis-trict schools?Logically, O’Donnell couldn’treveal too much, so as not to giveaway too many ideas of what helooks for to find the improperly
ADDRESS, page 3
Keeping thepublic schoolsprivate
Rich O’Donnell has been hired as the township’s residency-enforcementofficer to save taxpayer money
BY KEVIN CANESSA JR.
The Moorestown Sun
Moorestown Friends Schoolis one of the oldest three-tieredschools in America (lower, mid-dle and high school all underone roof), having been foundedin 1785. And it’s also been on thesame plot of land longer than just about any other school inthe nation. But with that notioncomes yet another … it’s been along – really long time – sincethe school’s physical plant hasexpanded. In fact, the last timeit expanded, the current head of school was a student there.Richard Nixon was presidentback then. Or was it LBJ?You get the point.But that’s all changing now,thanks to a $6 million capitalcampaign that will bring eightnew modern yet unique class-rooms – and two state-of-the-artscience labs, one of which willhouse the school’s notorious ro-botics lab.The campaign has alreadyraised $5 million, Head of School Larry Van Meter said.And he says he expects the final$1 million to be easily attain-able, thanks to the generosity of family, friends and alumni of the prestigious private Quaker-based school.“We’re very fortunate to havevery generous parents andalumni – and we’re fortunate tohave maintained that relation-ship over the years,” Van Metersaid. “We’re very confidentwe’ll raise the final $1 millionby the close of 2012.”The plant upgrades are hap-pening in two locations. On thecontiguous Greenleaf property,which the school purchased afew years ago, there will beeight new classrooms and a cho-rus room in a converted, 1960sbuilding that was originallyconstructed to be a nursinghome. It will open up close to
Friends School revamp
FRIENDS, page 7