• KYW News 4:30-7am
    04:00 AM - 07:00 AM

By Kim Glovas and Cleve Bryan

CAMDEN, N.J. (CBS) — The Camden School District plans to cut hundreds of positions in a move to reduce expenses in the next budget.

School district superintendent Paymon Rouhanifard says declining enrollment, overspending, and cuts in federal funding mean the district is facing a $75-million shortfall.   He says the job cuts will be at both the administrative and the instructional level.

“Our cuts assume a greater reduction in administrators than in instructional staff,” he told KYW Newsradio today.  “Camden has one of the lowest student-to-administrator ratios in the country.   We have historically been a top-heavy district, and so we are looking to reduce our administrators and spend more so on the instructional side.”

He says 200-250 teacher positions will be cut, and the rest will come from central administration.

“You’re looking at a reduction of 575 positions, and positions don’t equate to people,” Rouhanifard said.   “We have many vacancies, and we project even more vacancies through retirement and resignations.  So the total impact of people, we are currently projecting close to 400.”

The Camden Education Association says its been negotiating cuts all school year, initially about 900 employees. Acting president Robert Farmer says they’ll fight for more teachers who are now nervous.

“They’re kind of upset, they’re kind of scared. They’re like, ‘What are we going to do if I am the one that receives the pink slip?'” he said.

And some parents worry fewer teachers will mean less attention to their children.

“I’m just speechless, I mean, what do they expect the kids to do?” one person said.

The $395-million budget for 2014-2105 will be subject to a vote this coming Tuesday.  Rouhanifard says no schools will be shut down or turned over to charter operators in that school year.

However, he adds, underperforming or low-attendance schools could be phased out.

District enrollment has dropped by about 1,000 students in each of the last five years, while spending has gone up more than ten percent.

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