The New Jersey Department of Education on Friday awarded a total of $2.3 million in emergency aid to five South Jersey school districts, but did not decide on a $43.9 million request by Camden to close a budget gap.
The state notified 13 districts that they would receive a total of $15 million in additional aid. It made some partial awards and rejected requests from 20 districts, including Lenape Regional, which had sought $961,300.
State education officials reviewed 34 requests from districts across New Jersey seeking $362 million in emergency aid. The state budget appropriated $20 million for such requests.
Michael Yaple, an Education Department spokesperson, declined to comment on specific requests. Districts can appeal to the state for emergency aid to assist with a fiscal problem such as a budget shortfall.
“We are confident that these awards will allow those districts to provide quality educational services to their students,” Yaple said in a statement.
Camden officials said the money is needed to close a projected budget gap for the 2019-20 school year. The state gave no indication on when it would decide.
Superintendent Katrina McCombs said the struggling district, under state takeover since 2013, has curtailed spending while awaiting the outcome of the appeal. The district has a $365.5 million budget.
The district has lost revenue as more students left the traditional public schools this year for Renaissance schools, publicly funded neighborhood schools managed by nonprofits. Federal and state funding has declined, while operating expenses increased by $10 million, according to the superintendent.
Earlier this year, McCombs said the district faces serious fiscal problems and needed a state bailout. She rescinded plans to close Veterans Memorial Family School this year after state Education Commissioner Lamont Repollet agreed to provide $6 million to keep the school open.
The Burlington, Camden, and Gloucester Counties districts awarded emergency aid were: Bass River Township, $29,467; Pemberton Township, $410,000; Woodland Township, $254,201; Audubon, $122,709; and Glassboro, $1,511,644.
In addition to Lenape Regional, the state denied requests from Berlin Borough, Haddon Township, and Wenonah.