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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: 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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RED BANK: BUONA SERA, JIMMY JOHN’S OK’D

21 w front 082614The former Wayne’s Market on West Front Street is slated to open as a Jimmy John’s franchise owned by Gaslight Anthem bassist Alex Levine, at left below, and Matt Schaffert, right. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

levine schaffert 020116The owners of two Red Bank restaurants left Monday night’s planning board meeting with unanimous approvals, one to expand and the other to open.

Buona Sera, at Maple Avenue and Monmouth Street, won an OK for a plan for a 1,200-square foot addition that might accommodate up to 50 standing customers. And Jimmy John’s Deli, a sandwich franchise co-owned by a member of the rock band Gaslight Anthem, got a thumbs-up to open in the former Wayne’s Market space on West Front Street.

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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: COUNCIL OKS STEP ON PARKING

rb white st 070915 3The planning board was directed to evaluate the borough-owned White Street lot for its “suitability” for a parking garage. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

LicPlate1

After months of silence on the issue, a possible parking garage in downtown Red Bank finally got its wheels on what could be a long up-ramp to reality Wednesday night.

Despite misgivings voiced by Councilwoman Cindy Burnham that doing so might attract “an overload of engineers,” the borough council unanimously agreed to have the the planning board determine whether the municipal lot on White Street “satisfies the criteria for designation as a noncondemnation redevelopment area.”

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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: COPS HONORED AS LIFESAVERS

shea doremus albert 012716donegoodlogoThe Red Bank borough council honored three police officers — from left, Tanner Shea, TD Doremus and Cevin Albert — as lifesavers Wednesday night for their roles in the rescue of a senior citizen from smoke-filled apartment at the Wesleyan Arms apartments on January 1.

Seventy-nine-year-old Michael Malloy was asleep when a lighted cigarette set his mattress on fire, authorities said. The officers, responding to a medical call, heard his cries for help and then crawled through the smoke-filled unit to rescue him and ensure no other victims were present, said Councilman and Police Commissioner Mike Whelan. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.) 

RED BANK: TWO WATER BONDS ON AGENDA

rb water meter 120815 2A wireless water meter installed on a newly constructed home on Oakland Street. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

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With two clocks ticking down to the same deadline, Red Bank officials expect to introduce a pair of bond ordinances Wednesday night in hopes of avoiding restrictions on water usage and new connections to the water system.

One would authorize $1.9 million in new debt to replace nearly every water meter in town. The other would bond $1.83 million pay for a new water well to supply the borough-owned water utility.

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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: EISNERS PLEDGE $50K TO LIBRARY

rbpl 1 032714Through his foundation, former Disney CEO Michael Eisner below, has pledged $50,000 to the library that bears his family’s name. (Photo above by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

(Press release from the Red Bank Public Library)

michael eisnerThe Eisner Memorial Red Bank Public Library started 2016 with a nice surprise: a letter notifying Director Elizabeth McDermott of a five-year, $50,000 donation to the Foundation for the Red Bank Public Library from the Eisner Foundation.

This is the largest donation yet received by the library foundation, with $10,000 being donated annually for five years.

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FAIR HAVEN: POND DEAL ON COUNCIL AGENDA

schwenker's 012315Schwenker’s Pond, on River Road. The long-vacant Doremus house, below, which overlooked the pond, was demolished in late 2013. Two new homes are planned for the site. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

doremus-houseAfter years of limbo, a deal that would transfer ownership of Schwenker’s Pond in Fair Haven to the borough is expected to be sealed Monday night.

On the council’s agenda is a proposed developer’s agreement that Mayor Ben Lucarelli said will add to the town’s waterfront and open-space holdings.

“I’m of the belief that you only get one chance to make a piece of property public,” Lucarelli told redbankgreen last week.

Well, in this case, two.

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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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CHRISTIE: BECK-BACKED GUN BILL ‘DOPEY’

sb christie 3 102913Governor Chris Christie in Sea Bright in October, 2013, above, and state Senator Jen Beck in Red Bank last May. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

jen beck 050115Three days after he vetoed a bill that would have prevented convicted carjackers, gang members and other felons from legally obtaining guns, Governor Chris Christie has said why: it’s “dopey,” he claimed, according to a report by the Record, of Bergen County.

The bill, co-sponsored by Red Bank resident and state Senator Jen Beck, is evidence of “stupid stuff” elected officials do to impress their constituents, Christie said at a campaign event Thursday in New Hampshire, where he’s competing in the Republican presidential primary.

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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 »

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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