CAMDEN, N.J. (KYW Newsradio) — Two public schools in Camden and an annex at a third could be closing in a few months as administrators deal with a looming deficit of $27 million, according to the teachers’ union in the city.
Keith Benson is president of the Camden Education Association and says in meetings with the district Monday, he was told some 800 students could be moved from the Cream and Veterans Memorial Schools, as well as an annex in a third facility.
“I was told that, district wide, we could be facing up to 300 staff layoffs and that includes custodians, support staff, folks downtown and certainly our educators inside the buildings working in various capacities,” Benson told KYW Newsradio.
The district has been under state control for more than five years, and state aid was increased, which helped whittle down a deficit that had stood at $113 million.
Benson says the targeted schools are near privately run Renaissance Schools and could be closed in an effort to boost their enrollment.
“We believe that these schools are being targeted because of their close proximity to buildings that are overall and largely under-enrolled,” he added. “So our public schools are being sacrificed to boost their enrollment and we find that completely despicable and distasteful.”
Benson is planning to take his union’s fight over state funding to legislators in Trenton.
In the meantime, district officials are declining comment on Benson’s comments.