The New Jersey Education Association is expected to decide today if they will still hold their annual conference at the Atlantic City Convention Center next week.
NJEA spokesman Steve Baker said they still want to come, but they want to be sure the city has recovered enough from Sandy to handle the thousands of educators expected to attend the 158th annual event, a tradition in the resort.
Baker said they are talking to hotels and watching news reports. He said they want to make the decision early enough to notify their members, speakers and exhibitors.
He said they are also aware that many schools have already been closed this week, and would then close again Nov. 8 and 9 so teachers could attend the convention.
“There are a lot of issues to look at,” Baker said. “Is holding it the right thing to do when schools have already been closed for so many days? But the conference is also an economic infusion for the city and we want to show our support.”
State law does not require that schools close for the conference, but teachers must be allowed to attend. Traditionally, almost all public schools in New Jersey have closed those two days rather than trying to find enough substitutes to cover for teachers attending the conference.
Some schools will also be closed Nov. 6 for Election Day and Nov. 12 for Veterans Day.
Baker said NJEA officials are also aware that many of its members were affected by the storm and might opt to skip the conference this year. Typically, about 40,000 educators attend at least one day of the two-day event.
Atlantic City Convention Center officials could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
Jeff Guaracino, director of communications for the Atlantic City Alliance said the casino hotels are working with state government officials to get open as quickly as possible. He said the casinos also have events scheduled.
“We certainly would welcome them,” Guaracino said of the NJEA. “And we want people to be able to get back to work. But there are public safety issues that must be addressed.”
A college fair sponsored by the National Association for College Admissions Counselors, scheduled for today at the Convention Center, had already been postponed in anticipation of the storm.
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