By David Madden

CAMDEN, N.J. (CBS) — Major cuts are being made at Camden’s public schools in advance of a state takeover of the school system next month (see related story).

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The school board voted to trim more than 200 jobs, more than half of them non-union lunch aides.  Ninety-six teachers and assistants are also being shown the door.

The layoffs take effect June 30th.

Camden public school enrollment is down, some say because of charter schools in the city, so Laverne Harvey, president of the Camden Education Association, which represents the teachers, knew cuts were coming.

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Still, she wants some answers from the board.

” ‘Are we gonna sit down and talk about how you chose the people to RIF (reduction in workforce)?’ ” she recalls asking.  “And it was ‘no comment.’  Anybody that asked a question got the same answer. No comment.”

School district officials did not return our calls.

Also not talking was Mayor Dana Redd, who appoints the school board, and the NJ education department, which is poised to take over district operations.

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