Updated November 2020
Now that there are standalone middle schools, what will middle school sports look like? How will it be different than what is currently happening?
Middle school sports programming will have a significant change. We will be aligning the programs with the two comprehensive high schools. The standalone middle schools will now offer two or three seasonal team sports which are also offered at the high schools. Standalone middle schools will compete against each other and compete in leagues throughout South Jersey.
How will high school sports change? How will it be the same?
The high school sports will potentially have some changes, based upon data from student surveys we may add or remove certain sports teams.
How will decisions be communicated to the community at large?
All decisions will be formally announced no later than the February 23, 2021 Camden City School District Board of Education Advisory Board meeting. In addition to the formal announcement at the board meeting, families will receive notification via letters mailed home. There may be opportunities for family meetings if and as the need arises.
What does equity mean?
As opposed to treating every individual equally (i.e., identically), equity:
- Presumes diversity (unearned differences in status, privilege/ disadvantage, access to resources and opportunities) within a community, and
- Equalizes the ability of all groups to thrive, by
- Ensuring that everyone has what they need, and
- Redressing unfair biases and discrimination in the community's culture and systems for the benefit of the whole community.
Credit: Allison Park/Blink Consulting with thanks to Leverage to Lead
What is the difference between neighborhood vs. community schools?
Neighborhood and community schools are both defined by their proximity to students. They are public schools that the District either provides transportation to, or are near enough for students to walk to.
Community schools differ with regards to the additional services that are provided. Community schools partner with other services within the community including health/social services, community development/engagement, etc., and tend to be open to everyone, all day, and even on the weekends (community schools).
What are boundary zones and how do they relate to Camden schools?
In accordance with Board Policy 5117, the district establishes an attendance area for each school and directs the assignment of students to a school based upon which attendance area they reside in.
Pursuant to DOE regulations, boundary zone or “attendance area” for renaissance schools means the geographic area delineated for each renaissance school facility property by the renaissance school project or as identified in the application approved by the Commissioner in the case of land not owned by the New Jersey Schools Development Authority or the renaissance school project.
What is a public school?
In accordance with State statute, a public school “means a school, under college grade, which derives its support entirely or in part from public funds.” N.J.S.A. 18A:1-1. There are several different types of public schools in New Jersey, including traditional district, charter, and renaissance schools.
How are traditional, charter and renaissance schools different? How are they the same?
In accordance with DOE regulations, please see the below definitions of the different school types:
A traditional school is one operated by “any local or regional school district established under the provisions of Title 18A of the New Jersey Statutes,” not including a charter or renaissance school established pursuant to State law.
A renaissance school “is a newly constructed school, or group of schools in an urban campus area, that provides an educational program for students enrolled in preschool through grade 12, or in a grade range less than preschool through grade 12, that is agreed to by the school district, and is operated and managed by a nonprofit entity in a renaissance school district.” N.J.A.C. 6A:31-1.2.
A charter school is “a public school operated under a charter granted by the Commissioner [of Education] that is independent of the district board of education and managed by a board of trustees.” N.J.A.C. 6A:11-1.2.
All three school types are considered public schools and receive public funding based on student enrollment; however, each school type has a different organizational structure and is governed by distinct authorizing legislation.
How is building capacity defined?
Capacity is the number of students who can be accommodated in the school in a manner which allows for appropriate academic instruction. The number of learning spaces is calculated for various grade levels at district-run schools using the following maximum class size as defined by the State and adopted by the District:
- 15 students for pre-kindergarten (PK)
- 21 students for grades K-3
- 23 students for grades 4-5
- 24 students for grades 6-12
What do we mean by “right sizing?”
“Right sizing” means to reduce the size of the district to an optimum size that ensures fiscal stability and equitable resources to its schools and students.
Can a new school be built in place of closing buildings that are old?
The Camden City School District is a state-operated district as well as an “SDA district.” This means that all capital improvements, such as building a new school, must be performed and funded by the SDA.
The SDA publishes a strategic plan where they indicate planned capital projects for school districts across the state of New Jersey. The current strategic plan indicates that the Camden City School District is anticipated to need two new PreK-8 schools. However, the SDA has been agreeable to providing the district with a product that is more appropriately aligned with the outcome of its LTSP process.
For example, if the LTSP outcome indicates a need for a new middle school, then that could become how the SDA provides a meaningful investment in Camden City. That said, there are two conditions that govern this possibility: (1) the district must still balance its school capacities with its number of enrolled students, whether the buildings are new or they old, and (2) the District has no authority or control over how and when the SDA may deliver a new school(s) to Camden City.
Can we consider a middle school focused on STEM learning skills?
The district will be considering several different options for stand alone middle schools. We will ensure that our middle schools are competitive and provide 21st century options like STEM programming to our students.
Will PK-5 schools continue to have Encore classes like world language, music, physical education and art?
Yes, special area subjects will be offered in our K-5 schools.
How will PK-5 schools be different from PK-8 schools?
The School Support Team is actively working to define and memorialize what a PK-5 school will look like. All final details will be shared ASAP.
How will the standalone middle schools be different now than what they were in the past?
Standalone middle schools will be designed to support students academically to transition into a program in one of the District’s high schools. Students will be exposed to CTE and STEM curriculums in addition to the core content areas. Staffing in the buildings will support the unique and specific needs of middle school students.
What procedure will we have to take to enroll in our school of choice?
The procedure for enrollment in a student’s school of choice will be identified and shared after the long term plan has been identified. Since the plan has not been determined yet, it is too early to know what this procedure will be.
Explain the relationship of district, renaissance, and charter schools to this work.
The Camden City School District is leading this work as it directly concerns the structure of the district schools for the foreseeable future. However, as we undertake this long-term planning, we must keep in mind both the number of seats that are needed among all school types, including charter and renaissance schools, as well as future enrollment projections for the City of Camden, to ensure that the district is planning accordingly.
The City of Camden has a unique ecosystem of schools and, as such, we cannot develop a long-term plan for the traditional public schools without an understanding of the enrollment trends for the other school options available in the City.
What are the possible implications for charters? Is there a threat to charter autonomy?
Charter schools are authorized by the New Jersey Department of Education and operate under a charter granted to it by the Commissioner of Education, as such, they are independent of the local school district. In addition, charter schools are open to all students in the school district of residence on a space available basis, admission is not dependent upon the region or neighborhood a student resides in. As such, there are little implications the district’s LTSP will have on the operation of charter schools in the City.
What schools in the district will remain as magnet schools?
The Camden City School District has three (3) magnet high schools: Creative Arts Academy, Brimm Medical, and Big Picture Learning Academy.
Does academic performance play any role in determining what schools come offline?
No, academic performance does not play a role when determining what schools are to come offline. The district did initially consider including academic performance as a metric, but because there are multiple factors that influence a student’s academic performance (not solely the building itself), we opted to exclude this metric.
Why do the Renaissance Schools get so much of the budget?
Consistent with State law governing renaissance schools, “the renaissance school district in which the renaissance school project is located shall pay to the nonprofit entity … an amount per pupil equal to 95% of the district’s per pupil expenditure.” N.J.S.A. 18A:36C-7e.
What is the purpose of this long term plan?
The purpose of the district’s long term plan is to create a plan that provides high-quality academic opportunities for Camden families, while increasing fiscal sustainability for district schools.
Will class sizes stay small if schools are consolidated and/or taken offline?
N.J.A.C. 6A:13 subsection 3.1(b) states that if class sizes remain low in grades K-3, class sizes in grades 4 and 5 can go up to, but cannot exceed 25 students. The Districts goal is to maintain class sizes that facilitate and promote an effective learning environment and to ensure that classes remain at or below the states specified classroom capacity as outlined under the building capacity definition.
How would the classroom/ teacher ratio be affected by the school closing?
The goal is to keep classrooms at or under the state recommended maximum class size (see building capacity definition) while ensuring enough space at each school for students in specialized programs (ELL/special ed populations).
How is this process keeping the most vulnerable students in mind?
The Camden City School District will continue to provide support and services for any student who requires services.
What are the projected staff layoffs / reduction of force with this plan?
The projected staff impact depends on the specific school actions that are implemented.
If a school is taken offline will students receive transportation to their new school?
The Camden City School District will continue to provide transportation for any student who meets the state requirements based on mileage and disability eligibility and/or hazardous routes as deemed by the county and/or city.