AC JosepH Media
CAMDEN — Superintendent Katrina McCombs announced March 5 that the Camden City School District, in partnership with the New Jersey Department of Education, will close three buildings effective at the end of the school year: Sharp Elementary, Wiggins College Preparatory Lab School, and Cramer Elementary.
Yorkship Family School, previously slated for closure, will remain open, as Gov. Phil Murphy and Acting Commissioner Angelica Allen-McMillan have pledged to seek funding to address the buildingâ€™s emergency repair needs. The operating cost of keeping Yorkship open is expected to be offset by Governor Murphyâ€™s proposed increase in state aid for FY22, announced last week.
â€œWith the support of state and local officials, and with input gathered over the course of six months, Camden City School District is now poised to implement a plan that will improve the quality of education offered by our district and place the district on solid financial footing,â€ said Superintendent Katrina McCombs. â€œWe now shift our focus to the important work of ensuring that each and every impacted family is fully supported through this transition.â€
In January, McCombs announced a plan to address the districtâ€™s structural deficit by closing underutilized buildings in disrepair. The district currently operates 19 buildings serving approximately 6,000 students, a ratio that is an outlier amongst New Jersey districts.
In the weeks since her announcement, Superintendent McCombs has worked with Acting Commissioner Allen-McMillan to fully vet the initial plan and review financials. The final plan was shared with key stakeholders, including the New Jersey Education Association, today.
The announcement marks the end of the districtâ€™s long-term school planning process, which began in June and included 12 planning meetings, two community impact forums, and feedback from over 700 residents. The process generated significant local support; last month, nearly all of Camdenâ€™s elected officials and several members of the clergy signed a letter in support of the plan.
Effective this afternoon, the district will resume its communication to impacted families and provide hands-on support for the transition. Families will receive 1:1 calls, have access to a hotline available daily, and receive a letter and FAQ with more information.
To ease the transition, the district will provide all impacted families with transportation to their new guaranteed district school, regardless of their distance from the new building. This is an unprecedented level of support.
District guaranteed seats are as follows:
Students entering grades K to 5 will to Veterans Memorial School
Students entering grades 6 to 8 will go to Davis School
All students will go to Davis school
Students entering grades K to 5 will go to Forest Hill School
Students entering grades 6 to 8 will go to Creative Arts Morgan Village Academy
â€œI commend Superintendent McCombs for conducting a comprehensive and inclusive school planning process that puts the District in a position to achieve both academic excellence and fiscal sustainability. Change is never easy. But with the support of our elected officials, clergy, educators, and most importantly, families, we will come out stronger as a result of todayâ€™s announcement,â€ said Wasim Muhammad, President of the Camden City School District Advisory Board.
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