Reported Camden school closings prompts meeting with community leaders

(CAMDEN, NJ) — A day after the Camden Education Association claimed the city school district planned school closings and layoffs to bridge a $27 million budget deficit, district officials sat down with community leaders to discuss it.

At this point, the plan has not been confirmed by those district officials. But both the union and those leaders insist that the Veterans Memorial Family school and Riletta T. Cream Elementary school might be on the chopping block. The move could result in more than 800 students being relocated and about 300 teachers and support staff losing their jobs.

Pastor Amir Khan was one of those at the closed door meeting at district headquarters with acting Superintendent Katrina McCombs. Khan believes this is more about funneling kids into privately run charter and renaissance schools. He said the community won’t stand for it.

“We demand a freeze on all and any school closures and staff layoffs,” Khan told KYW Newsradio. “We put a demand on a federal investigation on the spending of Camden resident tax dollars with the Camden City School District.”

The leaders also want a state probe of what they call “collusion” between the charters and the district.

“I liken it to Home Depot,” Khan added. “If you go to Home Depot and you see a big, shiny, beautiful Home Depot and you also see a lumber store next to it with leaking roofs and poor technology and not enough supplies, what do you choose?”

A three day march from Camden to Trenton is set for next week to take those demands to state education officials.

New Jersey’s takeover of the district has seen a $113 million deficit paired down over the last five years to current reported levels.

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