Camden to close multiple schools, lay off workers due to $27 million budget gap

A cash-strapped school district is planning to shut down schools and lay off hundreds of workers. Activists and some parents are angry.

By the time fall rolls around, RT Cream Elementary School in Camden, New Jersey, will have become an early childhood center and some parents are not happy.

Lakeisha Scott has a son and grandson among the more than 300 students here.

"The teachers work with the students. They actually care,' she told FOX 29.

In East Camden, nearly 500 students will be moved when the district closes the 80-year-old Veterans Memorial Family school outright.

In a statement, the district calls the moves necessary to close a $27 million budget gap and quotes acting superintendent Katrina McCombs as saying, "This has been an excruciating time for me to come to these decisions."

The district says Veterans Memorial is crumbling in need of $14 million in repairs.

However, some community activists believe this is just the latest example of the district starving public schools to feed the growing number of charter and renaissance facilities in the city.

The cost-saving moves will mean layoffs to teachers and staff, perhaps as many as 300 people will lose their jobs.

Teachers union president Dr. Keith Benson:

"Vital staff members that help schools run and that help schools feel like a home-away-from-home for our kids, and they'll be facing breadlines because of politics," President Benson said.

The district--in that statement--insist the cost-cutting movies will actually benefit students, saying the kids at Cream will be moved to "higher performing HB Wilson school and Creative Arts Morgan Village Academy.