WILLINGBORO, N.J. (CBS) — A budget shortfall is leading to the closure of a South Jersey school and the loss of dozens of jobs.
The Garfield East Elementary School is closing at the end of the semester, permanently.
More than 50 teachers and staff members here and at other schools in the Willingboro School District have just learned they are being let go.
“This is just sad, sad to the community,” said Derrick Sample, who is a security officer at Willingboro High School.
He and all the security officers in the district are among those losing their jobs July 1.
The district has decided to privatize security next semester to save money next year.
“I think we have the best security team there and the kids will tell you the same thing. Myself, I graduated from the school so I have been through those hallways, have been through the same struggles as the kids been going through and they respect us,” said Sample.
Sample and all the other security officers at Willingboro High School protested the job cutsFridayu, by all calling out.
A Willingboro police officer manned the high school on Friday due to the protest.
“We have to put our foot down,” Sample said.
“We are upset too. Throughout this budget process, we have been very transparent and we have involved our stakeholders. We are honest that this is a tough pill to swallow,” said Superintendent Dr. Ronald Taylor.
Taylor says the job cuts and school closure are a result of a budget shortfall to the tune of over $5 million.
According to the district, it was caused by salary raises, increased health care costs and losing students to charter schools.
“You are on a fiscal cliff when it comes to salary increases and healthcare. You have to plan accordingly,” Taylor said.
Some, out of a job, still feel better planning could’ve avoided some of the sudden job loss.
“They were not in position to absorb some of these cuts that they had to make, so with that being said, they had to scramble to try and find a way to still make their six-figure salaries so they choose to let the people go work community members and who genuinely care about the kids they are around,” said Jason Jones, a former Willingboro high school security officer.