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Report: Newark May Consolidate Schools

NEWARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) -- Newark school officials were reportedly considering a massive reorganization of the city's schools that would make more space for charter schools.


WCBS 880's Levon Putney reports

The Star-Ledger of Newark cited a document it obtained that several schools could be consolidated or phased out.

State Deputy Education Commissioner Rochelle Hendricks said the 39-page document is a planning document and wasn't meant for public consumption yet.

"We are going to make sure that every one of our kids has quality schools to go to and to attend. I mean, that's what's critical," Mayor Cory Booker told 1010 WINS' Steve Sandberg.

Mayor Cory Booker tells 1010 WINS' Steve Sandberg that the plan has not been thought out fully


The plan called for some long-struggling schools to be closed and their students sent elsewhere. Other schools with low enrollment could be consolidated.

"We've got to start consolidating schools with this lots of open and extra space -- we've got to make sure we maximize that,"  Booker said. "We've got to start finding ways to create more public school options for our kids."

The buildings freed up by the moves would be used to house new and existing charter schools. It's unclear whether they would pay rent.

Booker cautions this is just a plan but the message is clear.

"These institutions that have failed for so long, we can't allow that to continue, we're going to have to find better ways," Booker added.

The mayor says consolidation and leasing space to charter schools will also save the cash-strapped district money and protect teaching jobs.

Newark's schools were getting an overhaul with the help of a $100 million grant from Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, who back in September '10 pledged $100 million to improve Newark's schools which have been plagued by low test scores, high dropout rates and crumbling buildings.

The district already spends nearly $24,000 a year -- more than twice the national average -- on each of its 40,000 students.

(TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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