Last month we asked whether Camden Education Association president Keith Benson had the New Jersey Department of Education in his back pocket. At the time, Benson was pressing hard for DOE Commissioner Angelica Allen-McMillian to refuse to allow Camden Superintendent Katrina McCombs to shutter four century-old schools to close a $40 million annual budget gap and resize the district which used to serve 15,000 students and now serves 6,000.
Nineteen buildings is a lot for that number of schoolchildren, McCombs and the School Boad explained; City officials agreed that “is in the best interest of our students and school district” and the closures will save Camden residents “a tax increase…in the middle of a pandemic.”
In the interim, state aid allocations are out and Camden Public Schools will pick up an additional $13.4 million. Late yesterday, according to the Star-Ledger, McCombs announced that this extra money will allow the district to keep the 101-year-old Yorkship Family School open. Sharp Elementary, Wiggins College Preparatory Lab School, and Cramer Elementary will close down but there will fewer lay-offs than the originally projected 150.
Apparently Benson doesn’t have the Commissioner in his back pocket.
Last month we also reported that the Commissioner had requested that Benson and McCombs not reveal details of keep their negotions with her. Benson did not comply. Instead, he denigrated all Camden residents and officials supporting McCombs plan as “slaves.” See here for more.