State audit of Katzenbach School cites large, ‘inefficient’ campus use for dwindling student body

TRENTON – A state audit of a 130-year-old school for the deaf found a campus “too large and inefficient’’ in light of declining enrollment.

An audit of the Marie Katzenbach School for the Deaf, which is on 110 acres in Ewing, said that its enrollment has dwindled from 203 in 2008-09 to 168 in 2011-12. The report was released today by the state Auditor.

“The school’s facilities and grounds are vastly underutilized,’’ the audit stated.

The school, which has eight dormitory buildings that could hold 369 students, had a residential student enrollment of 74 during 2011-12, 20 percent of capacity, according to the audit.

While enrollment has dropped 17 percent over the last three years, the school’s expenditures have risen  9.2 percent in the same period, the audit stated.

At one point in its past, the school accommodated nearly 600 students, according to the report.

The state Education Department is in the midst of conducting a study to “determine a more cost-effective manner’’ to meet student needs, the audit reported.

“A change in location should be considered,’’ the audit recommended.

In a response, Education Commissioner Christopher Cerf agreed that “all alternatives’’ must be examined.

The audit also touched on financial issues, including that terminated employees were not always removed from the payroll in a timely manner. The Education Department responded that it was addressing this and other issues.

 

 

 

State audit of Katzenbach School cites large, ‘inefficient’ campus use for dwindling student body