Several schools in Camden closing amidst declining enrollment rates and a district in deficit

CAMDEN, New Jersey (WPVI) -- The Camden City School District announced Tuesday it will be closing four public schools in the city at the end of the year.

The schools closing will be Wiggins, Sharp, Cramer, and Yorkship schools.

The announcement from the district stated there has been a six month, long-term school planning process to shift students into higher-quality and newer facilities. Ultimately, district officials said this will put them on a path to long-term financial success.

Currently, the district announced it has a projected $40 million deficit in fiscal year 2022, and every year going forward.

Over a decade the school district is looking at a budget deficit that exceeds $400 million.

The district said three of the four buildings are more than 100 years old, and all four buildings are in need of structural repair. On average, the schools are 30% empty, enrollment in the district has declined by nearly 50% since 2013.

Superintendent Katrina McCombs said around 1,200 students will be impacted.

"It would not be responsible fiscally, for taxpayers as well as responsible direction from the Department of Education, to tell us to keep operating at a deficit when we've been doing that for two years, and we're stuck," said McCombs.

Parents Action News spoke with said they are frustrated because family traditions like walking to school will be gone, now that their neighborhood schools will no longer be an option.

McCombs said she is guaranteeing transportation for all the students affected.

The district said an estimated 150 positions will be eliminated or consolidated, however they don't have specifics at this time of how many teachers or support staff will be impacted.

Here is how the district said the students would be moved:

District guaranteed seats are as follows:

Sharp School:
*Students entering grades K to 5 will to Veterans Memorial School
*Students entering grades 6 to 8 will go to Davis School

Cramer School:
*All students will go to Davis school

*Wiggins School:
*Students entering grades K to 5 will go to Forest Hill School
*Students entering grades 6 to 8 will go to Creative Arts Morgan Village Academy

Yorkship School:
*Students entering grades K to 2 will go to Cream School
*Students entering grades 3 to 5 will go to HB Wilson School
*Students entering grades 6 to 8 will go to Creative Arts Morgan Village Academy
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