Camden schools chief speaks up about financial crunch

David Madden
April 15, 2019 - 4:00 am

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CAMDEN, NJ (KYW Newsradio) -- For about a week now, we’ve been talking about plans to close a pair of schools in Camden and sizable layoffs of teachers and staff to address a $27 million deficit. The acting Superintendent of the Camden School District, which has been under state control for more than five years, is talking openly about the financial crunch.

Katrina McCombs insists, even if the state was to step in and cover that deficit, the Veterans Memorial Family and Riletta T. Cream Elementary schools would still shut down come fall. However, in the last few days, they’ve been looking to trim spending to lower the impact on workers.

Originally, there was talk of up to 300 layoffs. Now, she said, “If we are not able to secure the $27 million, we have a range between 50 and 200 now that we would see impacted. So this is after sweeping for any vacancies that we have. This is after looking at any retirements, any resignations, separations.”

The more additional funding comes from Trenton, the lower that number could go.

There have been suggestions from the teachers’ union and some community leaders that the closures are meant, in part, to drive students into privately run charter and renaissance schools in the city.

She wouldn’t get into that, but insists they’ve helped the district run their own schools better.

“At the end of the day, our students’ academic outcomes are very important and we should be sharing best practices with our charter and renaissance partners and we do,” McCombs added.