RED BANK: PLAN TESTED DISTRICT’S METTLE

rbms 121715 3Red Bank Superintendent Jared Rumage addressing a packed middle school rally opposing the charter school plan on December 17. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_02In nearly every public utterance throughout the three-month battle over a proposed Red Bank Charter School expansion, borough schools Superintendent Jared Rumage said he welcomed the chance to talk about the district as it exists today, not as it was a generation ago.

His goal wasn’t simply to rebut what he called “fiction” in the charter school’s projections about the financial impact on the host district. Just as much, Rumage said, was the need to answer what he consider a baseless slap at the district. Read More »

RED BANK: STATE DENIES CHARTER EXPANSION

rbcs 020416 1A proposal to double the size of the charter school called for using the building on Monmouth Street for new classroom space. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD
just_in

The Red Bank Charter School expansion will have to wait.

New Jersey Education Commissioner David Hespe has rejected the charter school’s request to double its enrollment, according to a letter sent to the school Monday.

Read More »

RED BANK: RUMAGE REFUTES CHARTER DATA

rbcs rumage slides 012216 1Superintendent Jared Rumage speaking at the middle school in January. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_02Red Bank borough schools Superintendent Jared Rumage calls data in a recent mailing to borough residents by the Red Bank Charter School “fiction.”

The flyer, which purports to show that the charter school’s impact on local taxes is light and getting lighter, also includes figures that “are different from those previously shared by the Charter School when making the same argument,” Rumage wrote in a letter posted on the borough schools website Monday.

Read More »

RED BANK: CHARTER PRESIDENT RESIGNS

janice havay 022316Janice Havay at the charter school following acceptance of her resignation Tuesday night. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD
HOT-TOPIC_03

In the midst of a highly contentious expansion proposal, the president of the Red Bank Charter School board of trustees has resigned.

Janice Havay, who served as board president since mid-2014, cited “expanding work responsibilities” and family obligations in a resignation letter that was dated February 4 and accepted by the board at its regular monthly meeting Tuesday night.

Havay declined to comment on whether she had misgivings about either the expansion plan, which would double enrollment over three years to 400 students, or its rollout, which has been widely criticized.

Read More »

RED BANK: O’SCANLON OPPOSES CHARTER PLAN

rbcs 021016O’Scanlon says underfunding of the local school district should be “preemptively disqualifying” of the proposed charter school expansion. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_02New Jersey Assemblyman and self-described school-choice supporter Declan O’Scanlon calls the proposed expansion of the Red Bank Charter School “ill-informed” and says it should be rejected.

In what he calls a “data-driven” analysis of the plan, O’Scanlon calls on state Education Commissioner David Hespe to deny the request, and adds that he would “question” the merits of the proposal even if, as other critics have demanded, the state fully funds the local school district from which the charter school sprang 17 years ago.

Read More »

RED BANK: MORE FUNDS COMING, SAYS BECK

jen beck 012216 5Senator Jen Beck addressing a hearing on the charter school proposal at the Red Bank Middle School last month. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03The 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.
Read More »

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
HOT-TOPIC_03

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.

Read More »

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.

Read More »

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.

Read More »

RED BANK: CHARTER SCHOOL SLATES FORUM

135 MONMOUTH 121515 1
HOT-TOPIC_03
The 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.

Read More »

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.

Read More »

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.”

Read More »

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.

Read More »

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: BOARD VOWS CHARTER PLAN FIGHT

135 MONMOUTH 121515 1The charter school recently leased space at 135 Monmouth Street, the former home of Prown’s Home Improvements, and hopes to acquire the building for its planned expansion. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03A proposal to double enrollment at the Red Bank Charter School proved fighting words to the borough district Tuesday night.

If allowed, the expansion of the 200-student charter school “will almost certainly lead to a significant tax increase, as well as a multitude of cuts” in services at the borough schools, a visibly riled Superintendent Jared Rumage told a small audience at a board of education meeting held at the middle school.

“I cannot and will not allow our children to be left behind,” he said.

Read More »

RED BANK: CHARTER SCHOOL SEEKS TO DOUBLE

rbcs 3 090313Principal Meredith Pennotti with a Red Bank Charter School student in 2013. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03In an audacious bid to educate more borough children, the Red Bank Charter School has asked the New Jersey Department of Education for permission to double its enrollment over the next three years.

The move is likely to provoke “public discord” and impose “financial hardship” on the district from which the charter school sprang in 1998, charter school Principal Meredith Pennotti acknowledged in a letter to the DOE dated December 1. But it’s needed to address disparities in achievement between students in the two systems, she wrote.

Red Bank schools Superintendent Jared Rumage blasted the proposal as reflecting nearly 20-year-old attitudes about the district, and said its implementation would be “devastating.”

“That perception of who we were 20 years ago is irrelevant,” he told redbankgreen Tuesday morning.

Read More »

RED BANK: DISTRICT SHORTED, REPORT SAYS

HOT-TOPIC_03Red Bank’s public schools aren’t getting the same share of financial help from Trenton as the Red Bank Charter School, according to a new study from Rutgers.

The 47-page report, by Julia Sass Rubin, an associate professor at the university’s Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning & Policy, examines the question of whether charter schools statewide are underfunded relative to their district counterparts.

Read More »

RUMSON: CLOSING OUT A HISTORIC CAREER

IMG_1497Monmouth County Historical Association president Linda Bricker greets C. Glenn May, during a recent ceremony honoring his 30 years of service with the MCHA.

Press release from Monmouth County Historical Association

Close to 100 employees, board members, volunteers and friends were in attendance on May 12, during a ceremony honoring C. Glenn May upon his retirement after 30 years with The Monmouth County Historical Association, most recently as Senior Education Coordinator.

The event was held at the Rumson home of trustee Mark and Andrea Aikens. The couple welcomed everyone to their home; introducing MCHA president Linda Bricker (who served as mistress of ceremonies), Association director Dr. Evelyn C. Murphy, Monmouth County Freeholder Lillian Burry, as well as many other representatives of the board, staff and volunteers.

Read More »

SEA BRIGHT: CHRISTIE PLEDGES SEAWALL FIX

sb seawall 051114Sea Bright will get $8.5 million from the state to repair and fill gaps in its seawall, adding protection from future storms for the downtown, Governor Chris Christie said in a visit to the borough Thursday, according to NJ.com. Financed by the state Department of Environmental Protection’s Shore Protection Fund, the project is scheduled to go out to bid later this year, with construction slated to begin next spring or early next summer, Christie said. Above, a portion of the barrier as it appeared in May. (Click to enlarge)

SEA BRIGHT: LONG MUM ON CHRISTIE

sb christie long 082813 3Mayor Dina Long with Governor Chris Christie in Sea Bright last August 28. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

In the midst of the Bridgegate scandal surrounding Governor Chris Christie over alleged paybacks to Democratic New Jersey mayors who refused to endorse his re-election last year, inquiring minds want to know:

What about Dina Long?

The mayor of Sea Bright endorsed Christie’s re-election early in the cycle last February, calling him a “hero,” and shocked fellow Democratic officials.

Given that the mayors of Fort Lee, Jersey City and Hoboken now say they were pressed for endorsements by the Republican incumbent, and endured some retaliation for not doing so, some natural questions come to mind:

Who first brought up the idea of Long endorsing Christie? Did she feel there was quid pro quo situation being foisted on her? Does she stand by her endorsement?

Read More »

SEA BRIGHT CELEBRATES COMMUNITY

Dozens of Sea Bright residents gathered for a potluck supper at the firehouse to mark the first anniversary of Hurricane Sandy Tuesday night. After sunset, with an onshore breeze whipping the flames like like a flag, they gathered around a beach bonfire next to the ocean that had risen to swamp their town. When Governor Chris Christie arrived, they encircled him, posing with him and getting his autograph. And all night long, they took turns writing messages on a ‘Canvas of Hope.’  (Photos by John T. Ward.)

RED BANK: HUNGER ON THE TABLE

christie colicchio 093013Governor Chris Christie joined restaurateur Tom Colicchio, right, and an interviewer on stage at the Count Basie Theatre Monday afternoon for a discussion of the politics of combatting hunger. The four-hour afternoon program, called ‘Soul of Hunger,’ also brought together panelists from food pantries and supermarkets and featured a screening of the documentary, ‘A Place at the Table.’ (Click to enlarge)

SLEDGER: FAKE-FARMER LAW NEEDS TEETH

A recently enacted state law aimed at culling ‘fake farmer‘ landowners “will eventually give local tax officials the power to force out fakers,” but doesn’t go far enough, the Star-Ledger says in an editorial published Friday.

Championed by state Senator and Red Bank resident Jen Beck – who won her seat in 2007 after a battling an opponent she tagged as a fake farmer – the reform bill signed by Governor Chris Christie this month goes too easy on wealthy individuals, developers and owners of office parks who took advantage of the old law to duck some $95 million a year in local taxes, the Sledger says.

Read More »