The Camden Board of Education approved Tuesday evening an operation, management and funding agreement with a nonprofit slated to build the state’s first privately run and publicly financed Renaissance school project.
In a 5-1-1 vote (board vice president Sara Davis votes against the agreement and board member Ray Lamboy abstained from voting) the board approved an agreement for Cooper Lanning Square Renaissance School Inc. (doing business as KIPP Cooper Norcross Academy) to operate a renaissance school per the Urban Hope Act.
The agreement makes it clear the school will go on the site where the Lanning Square Elementary School was supposed to have been built.
The state Department of Education approved the two-part application submitted by KIPP Cooper Norcross Academy to build and operate what is on track to be the state’s first privately run and publicly financed Renaissance school project.
In a brief letter dated Friday, March 15, Evo Popoff, assistant education commissioner, said that after review of application by the Cooper Lanning Square Renaissance School Inc. (doing business as KIPP Cooper Norcross Academy) and a supporting resolution from the Camden Board of Education, the KIPP Cooper Norcross Academy at Lanning Square’s Renaissance project was approved.
A contract between the Camden Board of Education and KIPP must be finalized and sent to the state Department of Education for approval by next Monday, March 25.
Unprovoked, the new Pope has been tied to the Save the Camden Children’s Garden fight.
When I went to the Camden Diocese headquarters this afternoon to interview Camden Bishop Dennis Sullivan on what a Latin American pope will mean to Camden parishioners, Sullivan discussed the meaning of Francis as a pope name.
Pope Francis, the former Cardinal Bergoglio, is the first ever from the Americas, a man described as an austere Jesuit intellectual who modernized Argentina's conservative church.
On Monday, I reported on LEAP Academy University Charter School's $151,000 fine it paid to Aramark for breach of contract in transferring school executive chef Michele Pastorello. Here is the breakdown of how the story has developed.
On Feb. 18, I broke the story of LEAP Academy University Charter School forcing a $24,000 raise for executive chef Michele Pastorello when it switched food service management companies. Not only is his $95,000 salary way more than what such a position usually pays but also Pastorello's relationship to school board chair Gloria Bonilla-Santiago raised some eyebrows.
"If the board put in place a bidding requirement in which the only way a bid is accepted is for you to hire someone who could be considered part of immediate family, [this] raises some very serious concerns under the state ethics code," said David Sciarra, executive director of the New Jersey Education Law Center, which advocates for students in poor districts, such as Camden. He said that a "committed relationship" or live-in boyfriend could be considered immediate family under the ethics code. (Read more HERE.)
After much insistence from a Mickleton resident who was sick and tired of seeing prostitutes parading in front of his daughter’s Camden day care, state Assemblyman Angel Fuentes (D., Camden) has introduced a bill that would increase penalties for prostitution near and around schools and day care facilities.
The bill, if passed, would also set up a “Prostitution Offender Education Program,” geared at teaching the risks of prostitution and its correlation to human trafficking. The program would be paid for from the fines paid by those convicted of prostitution while on or near school or day care properties.
Since my story ran in October on an increase in the number of prostitutes roaming Broadway in Camden, Wilfredo Rojas has been nagging legislators to pass a law to help curb the number of women working the streets in front of and around Mi Casita Day Care, where his 4-year-old daughter is enrolled.
After more than two weeks of testimony from business owners and crime experts, the Camden business curfew trial concluded Wednesday.
A decision, though, could take another month.
Final briefs from each side are due to presiding Camden County Superior Court Judge Faustino J. Fernandez-Vina on March 6. Fernandez-Vina will make a decision sometime after that, his secretary said.
Following my story Monday on LEAP Academy University Charter School’s executive chef receiving a $24,000 raise, the school put out a statement. However, I never received the statement until I was contacted today by the school’s food service company, Metz Culinary Management, which forwarded it to me.
In a statement of its own, the food company also seeks to clarify its involvement (or non-involvement) with LEAP Executive Chef Michele Pastorello’s $95,000 salary.
A board meeting is to be held tonight in which school officials have asked parents to attend to show support, according to a person who has received the e-mail.
As my Sunday story on Camden’s poverty showed, many people and groups trying to make a difference in the city.
Father Jud Weiksnar, pastor of St. Anthony of Padua Church, is one of a number of clergy members I interviewed for the story whose efforts are focused on helping and empowering Camden’s children. He has taken on the city and county in his fight to clean up Von Neida Park in Cramer Hill.
After what seemed like a fruitless fight in 2011, Weiksnar got the youth from St. Anthony’s parochial school to start a Von Neida Park Student Task Force. The students have since done several park cleanups, met with local officials and continue to plan park improvements.