Camden’s acting schools super gets vote of confidence from NJ

David Madden
April 17, 2019 - 12:10 pm
Katrina McCombs

Joe Lamberti/Courier Post

Categories: 

TRENTON, N.J. (KYW Newsradio) — The acting head of the Camden School District now has the job outright.

The New Jersey State Board of Education has voted to promote Katrina McCombs to superintendent, nine months after she accepted the position on an interim basis upon the departure of Paymon Rouhanifard.

Camden is the only school district in the state under complete state control, which was ordered in March of 2013 under then-Gov. Chris Christie.

McCombs said she welcomes the challenges to come.

"I am a product of this school district, and I’ve dedicated the last 26 years of my life to it," she said. "So I’m deeply humbled. I’m deeply honored. I feel like it’s a true full-circle experience for me."

The move comes as the district wrestles with a $27 million ongoing deficit. Her plans to close two schools this fall, repurposing one as an early-childhood center, and moving 800 students to other facilities, have come under fire. 

McCombs insists the cuts, which include up to 200 staff layoffs, may be painful, but they’re necessary for the long-term good of the district.

Some community leaders have come out against the plan and are taking their concerns to the state. In fact, the head of the Camden Education Association is completing a three-day walk from Camden to Trenton on Wednesday to make his case to state education officials.

McCombs says she’d welcome the day when Trenton releases her schools from state control. But there will be no rush.

She says she wants to "make sure that we are really positioned and really firmly rooted and grounded so that the next generation of traditional public school students who come through the district are able to benefit from the highest quality of education that we can offer."