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RED BANK: CHARTER OFFICIALS DEFEND PLAN

foss pennotti block 021016Charter school Principal Meredith Pennotti, flanked by trustee Roger Foss, left, and business administrator David Block, at Wednesday’s press conference. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

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An enrollment lottery weighted to give economically disadvantaged kids a better shot at getting into the Red Bank Charter School should help address racial and ethnic disparities with the borough school district, charter school officials said Wednesday.

In a wide-ranging press conference held at the Oakland Street school, they also rebutted much of the criticism directed at their controversial expansion plan, which would double enrollment over three years, to 400 students. And they maintained that allegations of “segregation” resulting from charter school policies, and negative impacts on the local district’s finances, were aired and put to rest, more than a decade ago.

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MIDDLETOWN LIONS, LIBRARY BOOST LITERACY

MTPL LIonsPress release from the Friends of the Middletown Township Public Library

On Wednesday, March 2, the Friends of the Middletown Township Public Library will team up with the Middletown Lions Club to host Read Across America Day: A Celebration of the Wonderful World of Dr. Seuss at Middletown Public Library. Going on between 4 to 7 pm, the free event is open to kids of all ages.

Children and their parents are encouraged to attend this fun, lively and interactive local event in Read Across America Day, an annual nationwide initiative that encourages the love of reading, and that pays tribute to the beloved children’s author Dr. Seuss. The event will feature musical entertainment by Disc Jockey Steve Munger of No Limit Entertainment; balloon designing by Rick Jones of White Knight Balloons; face-painting by Christine Conrad of Middletown High School South; button-making; snacks, beverages and dessert cake; free souvenirs; and facilitated group reading circles.

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RED BANK: GEM OF A GALA FOR K.HOV KIDS

Daniel_Blumenkrantz_(Ranney_School),_Joseph_Romanowski_(Owner,_Goldtinker®),_and_Christopher_Weiland_(Ranney_School)Since its inception in 1970, Goldtinker Jewelers has made it a policy to be involved in community-based charities — and on February 4, owner Joe Romanowski (pictured at center, between Ranney School students Daniel Blumenkrantz and Christopher Weilan) hosted the first Diamond Heart Gala event in the 47 year history of the business. Romanowski and co-owner son Peter welcomed numerous customers, clients, fellow merchants and professionals from the Red Bank business community to the Valentine’s-themed event, a successful fundraiser for K. Hovnanian Children’s Hospital of Neptune City.  Attendees who purchased and/or donated to the cause entered to win an exclusive Goldtinker Diamond Heart necklace, while enjoying specialty cocktails and Greek and Mediterranean hors d’oeuvres catered by Anemos Greek Cuisine of Manalapan. “We are so fortunate to have high quality care so close to home,” said Romanowski of the beneficiary for the first in what will be planned as an annual event. “I am so proud and honored that our Gala can leave a tangible impression on such a trusted organization that really treats each child as their own.” 

RED BANK: A CARD OF THANKS

rbcs girls 020516After the conclusion of their school-record 10-4 regular season last week, the girls’ basketball team of the Red Bank Charter School presented an oversized thank-you card to their final opponent, Calvary Christian of Old Bridge. The note congratulated the Lions on their team play and sportsmanship.

“Several of their girls gave our girls notes last time we played them, so we thought it would be nice to do something for them,” said charter school coach Vern Ford. 

RED BANK: DISTRICT KEEPS PRESSURE ON PLAN

jared rumage 082814Red Bank Superintendent Jared Rumage, above, said PARCC test results show that students gain skills as they progress through the middle school. Below, charter school Principal Meredith Pennotti at the forum her school hosted Tuesday. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

meredith pennotti 020216Twists in the proposed Red Bank Charter School expansion saga in recent days have prompted the borough school district to dial up its attack on the plan.

District Superintendent Jared Rumage said a change in the timeline of the plan’s proposed rollout “amplifies [the] disconnect” between the charter school and the community.

In addition, academic test data released this week shows that district eighth-graders are not only competitive with those at the charter school, but outscored them, he said.

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RED BANK: A LITTLE BOOK-LABELING PARTY

leighton lib 110915 2leighton lib 110915 1Kate Triggiano, who had a custom-built “little library” built and installed outside her Red Bank home for neighborhood kids last October, plans a book labeling party Thursday from 7 to 9 p.m.

The aim of the event, to be held at Kitch Organic restaurant at 75 Leighton Avenue, is to apply labels to dozens of books donated to the library’s wish list on Amazon, Triggiano said. Participants are asked to bring scissors; kids are welcome if  they’re old enough to help.

Why label? “Because we respect the kids and trust them,” said Triggiano. “Because they cost nice people money. And because we don’t want someone taking them and selling them.”

Dubbed the Little Library on Leighton, the mahogany receptacle, built by custom woodworker David Halbout of Middletown, is in front of Triggiano’s home at 22 Leighton, and features children’s and young-adult literature.  (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

RED BANK: CHARTER TRIES SILENCE WITH PR

rbcs 020216 6Charter school Principal Meredith Pennotti with a school cofounder, Michael Stasi, center, and trustee Roger Foss, in blue tie. Below, charter school parent and middle school employee Diana Archila addresses the crowd as charter school spokesman Kevin King looks on. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

archila king rbcs 020216After what’s been called “a PR disaster” involving its proposed plan to double enrollment, the Red Bank Charter School shifted into corporate communications mode Tuesday night.

Over the course of a two-hour forum that drew a fired-up, overflow crowd in its new STEM lab on Monmouth Street, school officials, with one exception, refused to answer questions, rebut criticisms or even state positions on their own proposal plan, instead sitting silently and letting critics have their say.

And for reporters, school officials deferred all questions to a polished corporate spokesman who stayed rigorously on-message.

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RUMSON: BATCHLER CUT AS FOOTBALL COACH

Bryan Batchler 120715 1Former Rumson-Fair Haven Regional head football coach Bryan Batchler led the team to its third straight state sectional football championship in December. (Image courtesy of Shore Sports Zone)

By JOHN T. WARD

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Six weeks after he was put on leave for undisclosed reasons, Bryan Batchler is expected to be replaced as head football coach at Rumson-Fair Haven Regional, redbankgreen has learned.

Batchler, who led the Bulldogs to their third consecutive state sectional title with a win over Red Bank Regional on December 5, was placed on leave by Superintendent Pete Righi just nine days later. Righi has repeatedly declined to say what prompted the suspension or provide any details about the situation, citing the confidentiality of a personnel matter.

Now, however, the school needs to find a coach for the upcoming season, Righi said in a prepared statement Tuesday.

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RED BANK: CHARTER SCHOOL SLATES FORUM

135 MONMOUTH 121515 1

HOT-TOPIC_03The Red Bank Charter School plans to hold an open forum and press conference on its controversial expansion plan Tuesday at 7 p.m., the school announced Sunday.

“The press conference will provide clarity on a recent application amendment, after which the forum will be opened for community comment,” according to a press release.

The event will be held at 135 Monmouth Street, above, a building in which the school recently leased space for a STEM lab and to accommodate the expansion, if approved by the New Jersey Department of Education. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

RED BANK: PANEL BLASTS ‘SEGREGATION’

rbcs 121515 3The 17-year-old charter school has said a weighted lottery that takes racial and economic factors into account would be used in the expansion. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03The panel charged with a hurry-up examination of the proposed Red Bank Charter School expansion teed up the institution for segregation in its report, unveiled at a borough council meeting Wednesday night.

“According to New Jersey Department of Education enrollment data, Red Bank Borough is home to the most segregated school district in the state of New Jersey, with deep disparity” in racial makeup, primary language skills and economic backgrounds, the report said.

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RED BANK: PANEL TO AIR CHARTER ‘CONCERNS’

rbcs panel 012216 2A standing-room crowd filled the middle school auditorium for Friday night’s hearing on the charter school expansion. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03A panel commissioned to review the proposed expansion by the Red Bank Charter School is expected to express “concern” about the plan’s impact on borough taxpayers, Mayor Pasquale Menna told redbankgreen.

Menna, who appointed the so-called blue-ribbon commission and participated in its closed-door meeting Monday night, said the body’s report will also air misgivings about what he termed the “strong and overwhelming” disparity between the charter school and the local school district in terms of demographic makeup.

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RED BANK: PANEL GETS DISTRICT’S SIDE ONLY

rbcs panel 012216 1Members of the charter school review panel watched a video touting the district schools Friday night. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

[CORRECTION: The original version of this article misreported data displayed in a chart during Rumage’s presentation. The chart indicated that 40 percent of Red Bank Charter School students are economically disadvantaged, compared to 88 percent of district students, whereas redbankgreen mistakenly reported the charter school figure as 4 percent. Also, the corrected figure reflects only economically disadvantaged children, not include new English learners.]

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03With the first flakes of an anticipated blizzard falling outside, a hearing on a proposed enrollment expansion by the Red Bank Charter School was predictably one-sided Friday night.

As expected, charter school Principal Meredith Pennotti was a no-show, as were the school’s trustees, but not because of the weather. They issued a statement earlier in the day saying they were staying way because the panel that called the hurry-up session should take more time in order to conduct “an in-depth analysis without outside pressure.”

Less expected was district Superintendent Jared Rumage’s strongly worded attack of charter school data, which he said obscured its role in making Red Bank “the most segregated school system in New Jersey.”

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RED BANK: CHARTER PANEL HEARING STILL ON

meredith pennotti 012016 1Charter school Principal Meredith Pennotti said she won’t attend Friday’s hearing in part because of hostility directed at her at a recent event. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03A planned hearing on a proposed enrollment expansion by the Red Bank Charter School is still scheduled for Friday night, despite the withdrawal of a key participant and the expected start of a blizzard.

Councilwoman Kathy Horgan, who chairs Mayor Pasquale Menna’s so-called blue-ribbon commission on the proposal, said the event will go ahead because the committee is on a tight deadline, and the storm will be in its earliest hours. Read More »

LITTLE SILVER: A GOOD TURN FOR GREAT CAUSE

TurningPoint_lobster_BenedictThe Turning Point’s lobster benedict is merely one Great Food way in which to support the Great Cause of the Kortney Rose Foundation — as the restaurants’ eleven locations team up to fundraise for the locally based nonprofit on the weekend of February 27 and 28.

Press release from Culinary Communications

From its very first location in downtown Little Silver, to an expanding network of daytime restaurants throughout New Jersey, Turning Point has made itself at home wherever it’s put down roots — and for the seventh consecutive year, Turning Point’s founders are partnering with a grass-roots nonprofit in their home community, for a fundraising initiative entitled “Great Food for a Great Cause.”

Between the hours of 8 am to 3 pm on Saturday, February 27 and Sunday, February 28, all 11 Turning Point locations will invite their dining guests to make a donation to Kortney Rose Foundation, the organization (founded, in memory of their late daughter, by Kristen and Rich Gillette of Oceanport) dedicated to raising funds for pediatric brain tumor research at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP). Guests who donate a minimum of $25 to KRF on either of those two days will receive in return a Turning Point gift card, good for two entrées to be used any time in the future.

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RED BANK: CHARTER SCHOOL PLANS OFFENSIVE

rbcs 012016 2Charter school parents at Wednesday night’s meeting in the school’s new STEM lab on Monmouth Street. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03At their first gathering since a controversial doubling of enrollment was proposed last month, Red Bank Charter School officials sought to enlist the school’s parents in a campaign to push back against opponents of the plan Wednesday night.

About 75 parents crowded into newly rented classroom space for a meeting billed as a “family facts” session that members of the general public were not permitted to attend. But many of those present complained they’d been blindsided by the expansion proposal and poorly informed about how to defend it against sometimes hostile criticism by other borough residents.

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