CAMDEN, NJ — The Camden City School District’s $44 million emergency aid request — submitted at the start of 2019 to the state for the 2019-20 school budget — remains unfulfilled.
Superintendent Katrina McCombs said Friday that the district was able to counteract its $27 million budget shortfall not through monetary intervention on the part of the state — but a strategic shift of its spending and savings during the pandemic.
McCombs said money meant to preserve Veterans Memorial School — which was at risk of closing last June — has also not been provided.
“[As for] whether we received $6 million for the closure of Vets which were verbally promised to us, we have not," McCombs said during Friday’s budget hearing. “We did not receive any extra emergency aid.”
McCombs said as of last November the district was counting on at least $22 million in aid while the state reviewed the district’s books to assure all matters were in proper working order.
The $22 million was frozen once the state began to feel the brunt of COVID-19’s impact — forcing the district to once again reassess.
“We didn’t receive the money, but we did receive a lot of technical support and collaboration,” McCombs told TAPinto Camden following the special meeting. “I do understand we’re a state-operated district, and we still have to earn all of our QSAC (Quality Single Accountability Continuum) points in fiscal management. With support from the Department of Education (DOE) we’re working to lay a solid foundation for moving forward and toward a solid path for sustainable local control.”
A state spokesman did not immediately provide comment on the part of the DOE or NJ Commissioner of Education, Dr. Lamont Repollet.
The Facebook-streamed hearing began at 1 p.m., and was attended to by a little over 90 viewers.
Sean Brown, a Camden parent, was the only person to submit for the public comment’s portion.
“The commissioner has verbally said that the district would get emergency aid, and I believe him, but it is the treasurer that releases the funds with the governor’s order. Therefore, the governor, the treasurer and the commissioner in the next few weeks need to publicly state that the district does not need emergency aid, or fulfill its funding promise,” Brown said over the phone after the hearing.
As far as funds the CCSD was able to acquire, McCombs said $12.5 million will be provided from the federal government as part of the CARES Act to offset COVID-19 costs, and $5.9 million are guaranteed from state equalization aid.