By JOHN T. WARD
The Red Bank school district can expect additional funding from Trenton under the latest Christie Administration budget, state Senator Jen Beck said Tuesday afternoon.
How much? It’s unclear, but it won’t be enough to offset the “devastating” impact that a proposed doubling of enrollment by the
Red Bank Charter School would have on the district, Beck told redbankgreen.
Morevover, Red Bank won’t be sharing in a new pot of money created by the administration to help districts that host charter schools shoulder costs, Beck said.
Beck at Governor Christie’s budget address with Red Bank Superintendent Jared Rumage, right, and Freehold Superintendent Rocco Tomazic. (Photo by SenateNJ.com. Click to enlarge)
Beck, who was joined at Christie’s budget address by the district superintendents from Red Bank and Freehold, said both districts were expected to share in $36 million in “formula aid” to offset their “underadequacy” status relative to the amount they’ve been shortchanged by Trenton over the past six years.
Red Bank, Beck said, has been shorted $10 million, or 37 percent less than it’s owed.
How much of the new aid will wind up in Red Bank won’t be known until the administration releases details on Thursday, said Beck. But she said she doesn’t expect it to match the projected $3 million in costs that the charter school’s controversial expansion plan would saddle the district with, she said.
“I don’t think we’re looking at the those kinds of numbers” in new aid, said Beck, a former Red Bank council member.
In light of that, Beck, a Republican, said she stands by her previously voiced opposition to the charter school’s proposal, which would double enrollment over three years, to 400 students. Education Commissioner David Hespe, who has sole decisionmaking authority on the plan, “should not approve” it, she said “until the districts that are behind are brought up to the adequacy standard.”
The administration, however, has been pushing ahead with charter schools, encouraging them to expand and replicate themselves, with the goal of boosting enrollment statewide by 50,000 students.
With up to six new charter schools and 1,100 seats expected to be created this year, “we’re going to continue working to expand charter school opportunities for families in failing school districts,” Christie said, according to a transcript of his speech posted on NJ.com.
Beck called the added formula funding “a good first step” toward addressing adequacy funding. But she was “disappointed,” she said, to learn that Red Bank would not be getting any funds from a new pool to help districts that host charter schools.
“I can’t give you the logic, the reason or the formula for why we’re not part of this,” she said. “But we’re not.”
Red Bank Superintendent Jared Rumage could not be reached for immediate comment. redbankgreen will update this story once we’ve heard from him.
Here’s the charter school’s application to the DOE: RBCS Amendment Request Dec 2015