CAMDEN, N.J. (CBS) — Parents were alarmed to learn Tuesday that the Camden School District is closing more of its public schools. There’s a lot of confusion among parents, students and school employees, but officials say they are not giving up without a fight.
“They think that we don’t have a voice, and we should have a voice in this,” parent Ayda Rodriguez said. “This is my kid’s education. I don’t want them in charter school.”
The writing has been on the wall but it’s a hard pill to swallow. Two Camden schools and an annex that tends to preschoolers will be closing at the end of the school year, leaving parents with not many options.
“Probably just moving out of the area and start transferring our kids into private schools and charter schools because all the public schools are being closed down,” parent Ramsey Johnson said.
Nearly 900 students will be forced to find new schools and up to 300 Camden City School District employees could be facing layoffs. According to the Camden Education Association president, it comes down to funding.
“The district said that there was a $27 million budget because for the last three years, the district received supplemental aid from the state,” president Keith Benson said.
“There shouldn’t be a budget issue,” Johnson said. “I think it’s mismanagement of money. You’ve got the wrong people messing with the money.”
But the aid has stopped, leaving the district to make cuts.
“We ultimately believe that this is an effort to feed a sector of charter schools that are under-enrolled, and it’s going to put our communities at risk, and our students at risk of getting a worse education because of it,” Benson said.
Veterans Memorial Family School will be completely closed and Riletta T. Cream Elementary School will be reassigned into an early childhood facility.
“Our students are the ones who lose,” Benson said.
Eyewitness News reached out to the school district, which said they have no comment at this time, but they will have a full statement at the end of the week.