CAMDEN, NJ— The Camden City School District is looking to unload a $500,000 burden from its annual budget.
The school district currently has 12 vacant buildings “without a clear plan for long-term occupancy,” and will be going out to bid to sell the properties, Acting CCSD Superintendent Katrina McCombs said Tuesday night at the CCSD Advisory Board meeting.
“Each year, our vacant properties cost the district nearly $500,000 in insurance and related costs that could go to the classroom,” McCombs said. “That’s money we could repurpose and reutilize for after school programs or books — for many different things.”
The district is currently reviewing bids for the sale of the former Broadway School at SE Broadway and Clinton Street; the former Challenge Square Academy at Kaighn Avenue and Rose Street; the former Parkside Elementary School at 1227 Kenwood Ave.; the former Riggs Adult Education Center at 1656 Kaighn Ave.; and the former South Camden Alternative School at 555 Mt. Vernon St.
Other properties the district hopes to sell are: Lanning Square Fetters Building, its old Environmental Center, former Thomas H. Dudley School building, former Octavius V. Catto School building, and vacant lots at 5th and York streets and Princess Avenue and Walnut Street,
The school district will be transfer the community garden, which is located on a lot at the corner of Cramer and 29th streets, to Resilient Roots, a community group that has been maintaining the garden for over six years. Resilient Roots uses the garden as an educational safe space that employs high school students and provides fresh produce to the community.
According to McCombs, the property will be sold only if the bidder meets certain criteria, such as: ensuring the buildings will provide community benefits, evidence that buyers will have the capability and the capital to make significant investment in structural and environmental improvements.
“We are looking to sell all of them to relieve the district of this growing cost burden,” McCombs said.
The condition of the buildings are described by school district from good to moderate, to poor, very poor, extremely poor and dangerous.
McCombs also announced at the school board meeting that after a visit Monday from the New Jersey Schools Development Authority [SDA], the SDA committed to begin temporary repairs to the Forest Hills Elementary School roof immediately, before the roof is completely replaced this summer.
“We’re pleased that the SDA is working with us to begin the work,” McCombs said.
This article was updated on Nov. 5 to clarify that the property ar Cramer and 29th streets was in use as a community garden and the CSSD plans to transfer the property to Resilient Roots.