By JOHN T. WARD
Mayor Pasquale Menna’s so-called blue-ribbon commission to review a proposed doubling of enrollment at the Red Bank Charter School will hold a public hearing Friday, weather permitting.
The meeting, booked for the Red Bank Middle School auditorium at 7 p.m., was announced in an alert from borough hall Tuesday evening, a day before charter school parents were expected to hold their own meeting on the expansion plan.
Barbara Boas, a member of the mayoral panel, said the group agreed at its first and only meeting so far, held Monday night, to schedule a public hearing in the interest of information-gathering and transparency.
It was driven, she said, by “the need for transparency and the desire of the community to know what’s going on.”
Both charter school Principal Meredith Pennotti and public school Superintendent Jared Rumage will attend and make presentations, and take questions from the commission members, Boas said.
A representative of the business community will also make a presentation, she said.
The public will not be permitted to ask questions of the presenters, but will be afforded an opportunity to comment afterward, she said.
Boas said she expects the panel to weight its interest toward fiscal, rather than educational, issues, given that the body must produce a report or recommendation on a tight deadline. Comments on the expansion proposal must be submitted before February 1 to New Jersey Education Commissioner David Hespe, who has sole authority to approve or reject the plan, which would increase the school’s enrollment to 400 over three years, beginning in September.
A state Department of Education spokesman confirmed to redbankgreen earlier in the day that Hespe expects to have a decision next month.
Boas said that given the deadline, the commission will likely have to submit its comments directly to the DOE, bypassing the borough council, which is scheduled to meet next on January 27.
“The timeframes on this are very short,” she said.
When the panel met, the threat of a major winter storm now forecast by the National Weather Service was not as pronounced, so no alternate date set in the event a storm hits Friday, as now expected, Boas said.
• Boas, a retired school teacher and alternate member of the planning board.
• Jan Wouters, an attorney at the Toms River firm of Bathgate, Wegener & Wolfe, who represents school boards, including charter schools, Menna said.
• Judy DeHaven, a former journalist who’s now a vice president of corporate communications at CBS Corporation. She has two children in the district school and, with her husband, Wayne Woolley, has been a prominent opponent of the charter school expansion.
• Jesse Garrison, a retired public works supervisor and community activist who has served more than 25 years on the borough zoning board.
• Michael Stasi, who Menna said was “on the original panel that created the charter school.”
• Richard Angoski, an attorney who Menna said represents both charter and public schools.
• Jennifer Garcia, a parent who Menna said is “active in the business community.”
Meanwhile, parents of charter school students have been invited to a meeting to be held at 7 p.m. Wednesday in the school’s new STEM lab at 135 Monmouth Street, a building the school recently rented.
Here’s the charter school’s application to the DOE: RBCS Amendment Request Dec 2015