CAMDEN, N.J. - Four schools are closing in Camden and that decision by the superintendent has some parents crying foul.
Sharp, Wiggins, Cramer and Yorkshire are the four schools slated for closure at the end of the school year.
"Three of the four schools are 100 years old. There has been deferred maintenance because there has not been enough money to invest in the projects that are necessary to keep the buildings healthy for our young people," Superintendent Katrina McCombs stated.
Deteriorating old facilities too expensive to correct is one reason. Dodging a 40 million budget shortfall for next year is another. Superintendent McCombs is letting parents know.
"We are already teed up to begin individual family calls, where I will be calling as well, reaching out to every impacted family, just to make, ‘Hey, have you heard the information? Have you heard the news?’" explained Superintendent McCombs.
McCombs says she knows parents don’t want kids walking a mile to school through what can be some tough streets. McCombs says it’s covered.
"I understand. I have heard many of the different scenarios presented by our parents and that is why we are guaranteeing that every student who is moved to a different school will receive transportation, regardless of whether they meet the 2.0 mile requirement," McCombs commented.
Tuesday afternoon, a Camden spokesperson stated as many as 150 jobs would be eliminated or consolidated. Dr. Keith Benson of the Camden Education Association, the teacher’s union, says trust is an issue, especially about money, since Camden schools let two business administrators go this past summer.
"And, that has not been talked about. That has not been discussed. And, the public is largely not aware of it. So, what we’re asking for is actually more oversight from Trenton to look into the numbers. And, we actually do trust the new commissioner and we do trust Governor Murphy in his facilitating and handling of public education," Dr. Benson detailed.
McCombs says accounting is being handled by a state and a local administrator. Enrollment in Camden city schools is down 50 percent since New Jersey took control of Camden schools in 2013, and nobody wants to see schools close.
"My thing is, public education is for the public. And, I don’t have a problem with the charter schools. But, to shut down a public school? I don’t agree with that," a resident remarked.
The decision will have to be approved at the state level in Trenton.
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