On December 28, 1978, Dr. Donald E. Beineman, Camden County Superintendent of Schools, requested the New Jersey Commissioner of Education to establish the Camden County Educational Services Commission pursuant to Chapter 243, Laws of 1968. This request was made on behalf of eight Boards of Education in the county: Audubon, Barrington, Bellmawr, Collingswood, Lower Camden County Regional High School District #1, Mt. Ephraim, Pine Hill and Winslow Township. The premise for the request was that cooperative undertakings through the Commission could provide high quality results, eliminate duplication and realize savings in both time and money.
At its January 10, 1979 meeting, the State Board of Education approved the establishment of the Camden County Educational Services Commission to operate services in six areas: Transportation, Adult Education, Non-Public School Services, Summer School, Cooperative Purchasing and Specialized Programs.
On July 1, 1979, the Commission began operations in a vacant area of the County Office of Education in Camden City. In 1981, the Commission moved to Stratford renting the second floor of the Princeton Ave. School. After a few years, the Commission needed larger quarters and moved to Gibbsboro leasing space at the Paintworks.
Confronted with increasing rents and needing space for additional staff, the Board of Directors began a search for available property. The Commission purchased the old Clementon School located on White Horse Avenue in 1997, demolished the building and constructed a new facility which opened November 5, 1998.
Initially, coordinated transportation services and non-public school programs dominated the Commission’s activities. Later services included cooperative purchasing of HBV vaccine, printing of mandated special education booklets and providing independent Child Study Team evaluations.
From 1995 to 1998, the Commission operated regionalized Emotionally Disturbed and Communication Impaired classes hosted by the Audubon School District. On September 8, 1999, White Horse Prep opened its doors as an alternative program for middle school students. In September 2001, the Commission assumed responsibility for administering the educational program at the Camden County Juvenile Detention Center at the Lakeland Complex in Blackwood, NJ. On September 7, 2004, in conjunction with the Collingswood School District and the Gloucester County Special Services School District, the Commission opened a full day regionalized Preschool Disabled class for children in the autism spectrum.
During the 2005-2006 school year, the Commission added two regionalized special education classes in Gibbsboro and Stratford to serve autistic children. Distance learning opportunities for home instruction and professional development were provided through a partnership with the Monmouth Ocean Education Services Commission. In addition, the Commission contracted with several Camden County school districts to use their IDEIA funds to hire, train and supervise instructional aides and teachers in nonpublic schools.
During the summer of 2006, the Commission refinanced its outstanding 1997 bonds and secured financing to expand and renovate its existing facilities. In spring 2007, construction of additional spaces was completed which included an enlarged meeting room and curriculum lab, classrooms, office spaces and storage facilities. The new facilities enable the Commission to expand its programs and services to serve the increasing needs of the educational communities of Camden County.
Also in spring 2007, the Commission was awarded $300,000 from the Governor’s Initiative on Autism to expand its Regional Special Education Program. This grant funded a new K-2 class for autistic children and was hosted by the Clementon School District. In addition to this new class, new initiatives for 2007-2008 included White Horse Academy, an alternative program for middle school students, and transitioning services such as job and travel training.
During summers 2008 and 2009, the Commission conducted several professional learning community (PLC) meetings on the New Jersey Quality Single Accountability Continuum (NJQSAC). Administrators from districts who had gone through a QSAC review shared their experiences and answered various questions on the District Performance Reviews (DPRs). Similar PLC meetings on emergent topics will be conducted as recommended by member districts.
The Commission continues to grow and will be contracting with the Camden Public Schools to offer nursing services to the non-public schools. We will also be expanding services in the area of special education throughout the county.