CAMDEN, NJ– In last Tuesday's board meeting, Camden Superintendent Katrina McCombs assured the public that the new Camden high school, which is under building and set to open in September 2021, will remain a district school.
“I wish to highlight once again that the new Camden high school is a conventional district school, and we will remain as a conventional district school,” stated McCombs during the monthly Camden City School District (CCSD) conference broadcast online.
“I understand that the question was postured to board members, so I'm not responding on behalf of the advisory board, however I am responding to say that all strategies with the SDA [School's Development Authority], all conversations that have been had, are still on track for this to be the replacement school for my alma mater, which I graduated from in 1987, Camden High School, duration,” McCombs stated.
Keith Benson, president of the Camden Education Association (CEA), in his written comment – checked out during the meeting – had reminded attendees that the previous superintendent signed a nine-month non-binding resolution to ensure that the high schools continue to serve standard public school students.
Careful that the KIPP Cooper Norcross school system could restrain on said strategies and transform the organization into a renaissance school, Benson asked, “Do board members promise to vote to keep the new Camden High School a traditional public school?”
Some board members nodded along, and Vice President N'Namdee Nelson later in the meeting clearly stated the significance of the school remaining district-run.
“I did not bring this up to be confrontational, [I] simply felt it was very important to go out there,” Benson told TAPinto Camden after conference, noting that he hoped more board members would speak on the subject at length.
High School timeline, returning into buildings
While detailing her regular monthly report previously in the meeting, McCombs stated the pandemic has actually not interfered with the building of the school. The “advanced structure” will reach “considerable completion” at the end of June 2021, she stated.
But it will not be till September 2021 that the school will formally consolidate Brimm Medical Arts, Creative Arts Morgan Village, Big Picture Learning and Camden High School.
McCombs said Tuesday that the 4 structures will be taken offline and put to other usage, although she did not explain. The only exception to said consolidation is Woodrow Wilson High School, which the CCSD will ultimately relabel.
School board member Nyemah Gillespie inquired as to the procedure of returning into classrooms while representing the impact of COVID-19.
“I know it's important for us to remain on track with that … just to ensure our trainees safety, while we do return,” Gillespie stated.
The district formerly announced that remote knowing would continue at least until Feb 1, 2021 – with strategies to reassess next actions in early January. McCombs indicated proper filtration systems, enough staff going to get in structures and other factors that will have to be marked off in order to comply with New Jersey Department of Health (DOH) guidelines.
“We are absolutely working to get our trainees and staff back in school as soon as we possibly can. Today, obviously, we know that the rates of COVID-19 are going up,” McCombs said. “Camden city has the highest numbers of COVID-19 cases [in the county]”
McCombs noted that her personnel is also cognizant of other Camden structures, particularly charter schools, that opened in the fall and have actually since closed due to coronavirus cases.
“We wish to make sure that we're refraining from doing anything to adversely contribute to community spread,” she stated. “We have to also browse the lens of the numbers that are in our location … and also how tough we are hit as neighborhoods of color.”
See Tuesday's complete meeting here: