Over 200 teachers in Camden will be without a job next fall. During a school board meeting Monday night, officials with the Camden City School District announced that 206 teachers in the district will be laid off by the end of the school year in order to meet a $75 million budget deficit.
The Philadelphia Inquirer also reports that an additional 66 employees in the district will also be laid off.
One of the Camden teachers who heard the news is Karen Pazienza, who has taught 1st grade for 11 years.
“The way they thank me is by giving me a letter Friday morning and eliminating my position by Monday afternoon,’ she said. “I had tears coming down my eyes.”
Officials first announced last February that the reductions would be made as part of a plan to meet a $75 million revenue gap heading into the next school year, according to the Inquirer. The Inquirer reports that the district cut $29 million through non-personnel reductions and $28 million through personnel cuts, leading to an estimated 45% reduction of the Central Office and 15% reduction of all school-based vacancies and positions.
Brendan Lowe, of the Camden City School District, says the layoffs were also made to reverse seniority in order to balance the district budget.
“We had a spending freeze,” Lowe said. “We cut non-personnel costs by $29 million. We cut central office positions and vacancies by 45%.”
Superintendent Paymon Rouhanifard told the Inquirer that the district’s 9.1 student to teacher ratio will increase to 11.1 due to the layoffs but classes will still fall within state recommendations.
School district officials insist there won’t be any more additional layoffs. Some of the teachers who were given the pink slip say they won’t report to class on Tuesday.
“You’re their mother, you’re their doctor, you’re their teacher,” said Shirley Saed, one of the laid off teachers. “In a community like Camden, you play even more roles.”