Camden schools announce more layoffs and other staff cuts

File photo: Camden School Superintendent Paymon Rouhanifard looks over the Camden school district’s results on the new standardized test in September, 2016.

The Camden School District plans another round of layoffs and other job cuts, affecting 121 teachers, custodians, security officers, and support staff, a spokesman said Thursday.

The moves were outlined in a report posted on the district’s website for Thursday night’s advisory school board meeting. The district is required by law to notify staff of any personnel changes by May 15.

The state-run district said it was laying off for budgetary reasons 10 teachers; 25 school staff; and 20 members of the central office staff.  The district enrolls about 7,000 students in K-12 and has a proposed $352 million budget for the coming school year.

A spokesman for Superintendent Paymon Rouhanifard said the cuts were needed due to declining enrollment projections for the 2017-18 school year. Enrollment is expected to drop from about 7,000 students to 6,000. More than half of Camden's public school students are expected to enroll in charter schools or hybrid charter-public "Renaissance" schools.

The district began notifying those affected on Wednesday by distributing letters, spokesman Brendan Lowe said. Lowe, who is resigning at the end of the school year, said his position is among 18 that will not be filled.

"The vast majority of our staff who received a notice this week are for performance reasons, while a smaller number are being impacted due to our budget,” Rouhanifard said in a statement. “These are very difficult decisions, and we will closely support these individuals through this transition.”

Among those losing their jobs are  28 teachers and 38 student services staff who will be fired for performance-related reasons, Lowe said.

Robert Farmer, president of the Camden Education Association, which represents teachers and support staff, said the job losses would disproportionately impact city residents. Rather than dismiss security officers because of school closings, for example, the district should reassign them to other schools, he said.

"They're hurting residents in the city," Farmer said Friday. "They could use that staff to beef up our schools."

Last year, the district laid off 154 employees. Many of those were eventually recalled.

The state took over the district in 2013 because of the city's chronically failing schools, among the worst in New Jersey. Rouhanifard, appointed by Gov. Christie, has overseen a shifting enrollment from traditional public schools to charter and Renaissance schools.

Currently, there are seven Renaissance schools with an enrollment of 2,708. Nine charter schools enroll 5,072 students.