After three years of stalled negotiations, Camden Public Schools and the Camden Education Association have agreed on a five-year contract (the longest allowed under New Jersey regulations) that will boost the salaries of 1,100 teachers, instructional assistants, and other staff an average of 15.2%, retroactive to 2018 and continuing through 2023.
Camden Superintendent Katrina McCombs called the contract “fair and equitable” and said the deal “recognizes the hard work and tireless dedication of our classroom teachers, especially over the last school year.”
Camden Education Association Keith Benson acknowledged the contract gives staff “hard-earned raises.” Earlier this year he led a petition drive demanding McCombs’ resignation (“as such, Ms. Katrina McCombs must go”) because she is “trying to sabotage her own goddamn district!” The “sabotage” was ascribed to McCombs’ support of the district’s universal enrollment plan that gives parents the power to choose among a variety of public schools in the city–traditional, charter, and renaissance. He also was angered that she closed four half-empty schools because currently 55% of Camden students are enrolled in the city’s public charter and renaissance schools.
Benson isn’t giving up. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, he said, regarding the 15% raise, “[o]ur long-term survival is still under constant threat. This contract is the bare minimum, and you don’t get kudos for the bare minimum.”