RED BANK: HELP KEEP THE STRINGS SINGING

rb strings 061814 4HOT-TOPIC_03As reported by redbankgreen last month, the strings program in the Red Bank school district is facing extinction because of budget cuts. The school board and parents are looking for ways to keep it alive. Meantime, a handful of students from the program plan to play a selection of folk tunes, including “Go Tell Aunt Rhody,” at 2 p.m. this Saturday in front of Toad Hollow, at 9 Monmouth Street, in an effort to call attention to the effort. The video below, made by parent Wayne Woolley, is another part of that effort.

Wouldn’t it be nice to give them a big, curbside audience to encourage them? You might also bring your checkbook or cash, in case you feel inspired to help in that way. For more info, contact Cathy Costa at ccosta273@yahoo.com. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

RED BANK: SCHOOL PATH MAY BE PAVED

locust trail 073112Locust Place, as seen in 2012, above, links Locust Avenue with the Red Bank Primary School, as seen in the aerial below. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

rb locust pl 070914For years, a narrow dirt path through a stretch of woods has been the best option for many Red Bank children trying to avoid a long walk to the primary school.

The path, snaking alongside the Navesink River from Locust Avenue to the school, has also been eyed by emergency responders as an alternative access route for firetrucks and ambulances, should something go wrong at the school.

“It’s been on the drawing board for 20 years,” said Mayor Pasquale Menna.

Now, the borough hopes to secure funding to make the $207,000 path a reality.

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RED BANK: SCHOOL STRINGS TO GO SILENT

rb strings 061814 2rb strings 061814 1Getting ready to tackle Beethoven, Bartok and Bach, Red Bank primary and middle school students tuned up for their annual concert at the middle school Wednesday night. The strings program, however, was cut from the 2014-’15 budget, shaving $80,000, even as the local tax levy soared by nearly 10 percent. “It was all bad choices,” said school board President Ben Forest, whose daughter was among the kids playing their final concert at the school. “It’s horrible, but sometimes we’re charged with making horrible decisions.” Pressure to save the program is great, he added, and “we are looking at ways of restoring it.” Here’s a letter about the options sent to parents on Wednesday: Strings Letter 06-2014 (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

rb strings 061814 3

LITTLE SILVER: SUIT ALLEGES SEXUAL PURSUIT

carolyn kossack 090612Superintendent Carolyn Kossack, seen here in 2012.  (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

A former Little Silver school staffer claims she was fired after after rebuffing sexual advances by Superintendent Carolyn Kossack, the Asbury Park Press reported Monday night.

Former special services supervisor JoAnn Riley, of Edison, is also suing the school board and a former principal at the Markham Place School, who Riley claims refused to help her as Kossack’s advances became more assertive, the Press reports.

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FAIR HAVEN: TEACHERS SETTLE CONTRACT

nelson ribon 042814 3 Superintendent Nelson Ribon fielded pointed questions from parents about the teachers’ contract and other issues at two packed meetings in April. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

After two years without a contract, Fair Haven school teachers have approved a new collective bargaining agreement, the Asbury Park Press reports.

The unresolved contract was among several flash points when parents grilled Superintendent Nelson Ribon and the school board over the possible elimination of two full-time kindergarten teaching jobs in April.

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FAIR HAVEN: RESIDENTS RALLY FOR TEACHERS

fh boe  043014 1 Students held signs with the names of teachers whose jobs they hoped to save. Board member Katy Frissora, below, fielded a question from a parent. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

katy frissora 043014Some 300 Fair Haven parents and students packed a gymnasium to protest a plan not to renew the contracts of seven non-tenured teachers Wednesday night.

“It breaks my heart to leave my school like this in two months,” eighth-grader Ellie Gibney told the borough school board, just 48 hours after a smaller crowd upbraided school Superintendent Nelson Ribon over the plan.

Board members, however, defended the decision as the outcome of an evaluation process that included elements they could not discuss publicly under laws governing personnel matters.

“We need people to stop with the vitriol and the Facebook nastiness – at me in particular,” said Katy Frissora, who’s been on the board for eight years.

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FAIR HAVEN: SCHOOLS HEAD UNDER FIRE

fh schools 2 042814Superintendent Nelson Ribon, center above, fielded pointed questions from parents, including one, below, who compared him to a CEO who had lost the respect of his employees. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

fh schools 1 042814Fair Haven school Superintendent Nelson Ribon found himself in the crosshairs of about 100 mothers and a handful of students Monday night.

Joined by about a dozen men, the women and kids challenged Ribon and the school board over the possible elimination of two full-time kindergarten teaching jobs, a plan to expand the half-time kindergarten program next September, and pending decisions on the jobs of more than two dozen teachers.

“Teachers are afraid to talk,” a woman who has four children in the district schools told Ribon during a two-hour Q&A at Knollwood School. “They’re fearful for their jobs, and that’s not what Fair Haven is about.”

“We’re asking you to reconsider” a plan to replace the two kindergarten full-timers with four part-timers, said another, echoing a sentiment voiced several times.

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RED BANK: SAYING GOODBYE TO ‘GRANDMA’

mary boynton 0122314Mary Boynton with some of her freshly awakened toddler charges last week. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Over the past 30 years, Mary Boynton has wrapped her arms around hundreds of youngsters at the Monmouth Day Care Center in Red Bank.

But one stands out: Anthony, a special-needs child who arrived at the facility on Drs. James Parker Boulevard as a nine-month-old infant, and stayed until he was 10 years old.

When Anthony left, “I cried and cried,” says Boynton.

Expect some tears to flow this week, when the 84-year-old Boynton wraps up her three decades of service at the center to embark on a life in retirement.

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SEA BRIGHT ISSUES: LIBRARY, REDEVELOPMENT

sb council 011614Engineer Jackie Flor of T&M Associates discusses the impact on a parking lot paving project necessitated by the demolition of the Sea Bright Public Library. The dormant borough school building, below. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

sb school 011614Overlapping concerns about beachfront development, the future of the crumbling former school and the demolition of the public library dominated an issue-heavy meeting of the Sea Bright council Thursday morning.

Mayor Dina Long, who had opposed tearing down the library until a proposed combination library and bathing pavilion could be built, defended Saturday’s hasty demolition, but acknowledged that “perhaps it could have been handled in a different manner.”

“it was certainly no secret that that building was going to be abandoned after the last council meeting,” on December 17, she said at a crowded council workshop session. “But my concern going forward is that members of our own community felt there was a lack of transparency” about the timing of the action, which gave rise to conspiracy theories that are now “driving a wedge between” elected officials and residents, she said.

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RED BANK: SCHOOLS HEAD MORANA TO RETIRE

laura morana 111709Superintendent Laura Morana in her office in 2009. (Click to enlarge)

Red Bank schools Superintendent Laura Morana is leaving the district at the end of the month, according to a measure approved at a school board meeting Wednesday night.

According to a late addition to the meeting agenda, the board accepted her resignation “for the purpose of retirement,” effective September 30.

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RED BANK: A LESSON IN HEALTHY EATING

Chef Zeet Peabody shows Red Bank Primary School students around the Monmouth Street garden of the JBJ Soul Kitchen. (Photo by Sarah Klepner. Click to enlarge)

By SARAH KLEPNER

Brandy Balthazar’s third-grade class of English Language Learners at the Red Bank Primary School went on a health-conscious field trip earlier this week.

Wearing pedometers, they visited the stores Rincon and Juanito’s on Shrewsbury Avenue to learn about wholesome food choices, and then headed over to the JBJ Soul Kitchen on Monmouth Street, where chef Zeet Peabody happily showed them around the garden.

The Tuesday morning outing was part of Shaping Red Bank, a public health initiative started two and half years ago that addresses dietary causes of childhood obesity and diabetes through a coalition of local organizations, said Sandra Van Sant, Monmouth Regional Health Commission health officer.

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SHREWSBURY: ILL FAWN FOUND AT SCHOOL

The male, just a few days old, checks out healthwise, according to the Humane Society. (Click to enlarge)

[See correction below]

An ailing baby deer was found in the playground of the Shrewsbury School Creative Learning Center in Shrewsbury Wednesday morning, borough animal control officer Henry Perez tells redbankgreen.

The fawn, “just a few days old,” was lethargic and undernourished, Perez said.

The deer’s mother was nowhere to be seen, he said.

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MORANA: SCHOOL TAX COULD’VE BEEN WORSE

By WIL FULTON

Red Bank’s school board unanimously approved the borough’s 2013-2014 school budget at the Thursday night before a small group of residents and school officials at the primary school.

The spending plan weighed in at $13.2 million, up $522,503, or 4.1 percent, from last year. The increase might have topped 8 percent, had the district chosen to employ “banked cap,” a method that allows districts to exceed the state-mandated limits on budget growth, said Superintendent Laura Morana.

But “when we thought about the impact [the tax levy] would have on households, and families for community members in Red Bank, we decided it was too high,” Morana said. “We wanted to be responsive to the needs of our children – meeting their educational needs, having the appropriate personnel, supplies and technology – but at the same time, we needed to think about the members of our community, and really think about the impact on the community.”

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RBR BUDGET SAILS TO PASSAGE

By SARAH KLEPNER

Red Bank Regional’s board of education unanimously passed the district’s 2013-2014 budget last week, with no comment from the public.

The 50-minute meeting Thursday night was sparsely attended, with fewer than 10 in attendance, including staff and teachers.

This year’s budget is 1.5-percent smaller than last year’s, which amounts to shrinkage of just over $403,000, for total spending of $26.6 million.

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UP: INSURANCE, ENROLLMENT & SCHOOL TAX

Red Bank property owners could face a 5.6-percent increase on their borough school tax bills, according to a report in Tuesday’s Asbury Park Press.

A proposed $22.8 million budget for the 2013-2014 school year,  introduced Monday night, calls for a 5.64-percent increase that board of education members blamed on soaring insurance costs and a five percent increase in the student population, the newspaper reported.

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RED BANK: SCHOOL AID TO RISE 13 PERCENT

Red Bank Primary School. (Photo by Wil Fulton. Click to enlarge)

Red Bank schools will see a $339,000 increase in budgetary help from Trenton next year, the Christie Administration announced Thursday.

As part of what the state Department of Education called “the largest appropriation of K-12 education dollars in the state’s history,” the two-school Red Bank district will see an increase in state aid of 13 percent, to a total $2.7 million, in the 2013-2014 year, the agency said in a press release.

The entirety of the increase reflects “under-adequacy” funding, a new DOE category of aid designed “to benefit districts that are currently 10 percent or more below” what the state figures it costs to provide students an adequate education.

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CHARTER SCHOOL INTERNS STEP OUT TO WORK

Red Bank Charter School intern Maya Ghosh at work at Paint A Tee on Monmouth Street. Below, Amanda Annaruma in the laundry room at Hair & Company, on White Street. (Photos by Lola Todman. Click to enlarge)

By LOLA TODMAN
Red Bank Charter School Intern

For most middle school students, 2:45 to 3:45 p.m on Thursday afternoon is just another class, or time to head home or to sports practice. You wouldn’t expect to see them downtown at a salon, working, but that hour is exactly when you will find Red Bank Charter School student Amanda Annaruma at Hair & Company.

The charter school has a unique program, running for about 12 years, that places eighth-graders in jobs, which explains why students are in town rather than relaxing.

“I intern at Hair & Company on White street,” says Amanda, one of 19 eighth-graders participating in the program. “I guess for now I’m really an assistant’s assistant. I sweep the floor, wash towels, stuff like that.”

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SCHOOL ARTS TO GET INSTRUCTOR BOOST

Count Basie CEO Adam Philipson and director of education Yvonne Lamb Scudiery meet the press on Tuesday. (Photo by Wil Fulton. Click to enlarge)

By WIL FULTON

Red Bank’s youngest students can expect an extra-dose of performance-art based teaching in their upcoming curriculum, thanks in part to the hometown Count Basie Theatre and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington D.C.

Borough schools Superintendent Laura Morana was joined by new Basie CEO Adam Philipson and director of education Yvonne Lamb Scudiery during her monthly press meeting at middle school Tuesday to help detail the Kennedy Center’s upcoming workshops for teachers, designed to help them understand the importance of performing arts as a part of overall education.

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FAIR HAVEN: A LESSON IN GOVERNMENT

The borough council held its bimonthly meeting at the Knollwood School, where student Peter Maris, below, was a particularly engaged citizen. (Photo by Wil Fulton. Click to enlarge)

By WIL FULTON

Students from Knollwood School in Fair Haven got a glimpse of how their local government operates Monday, when Mayor Ben Lucarelli and the borough council held their bi-monthly meeting in the school’s gymnasium, continuing a tradition that started four years ago.

Students in sixth, seventh and eighth grade attended, with the council members introducing themselves and giving a step-by-step analysis and demonstration of each part of the council meeting, as well as the specific duties and powers of the council itself.

Many students readily participated in the “good of the borough” portion of the session, designed to let attendees speak directly with council members.

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RED BANK: PRIMARY SCHOOL STILL UP IN AIR

A dumpster loaded with discarded carpeting and other material sits outside the Red Bank Primary School, which remained closed Monday. (Photo by Wil Fulton. Click to enlarge)

By WIL FULTON

After two weeks, Red Bank Primary School students were able to finally make their return to school Monday – just not their own school.

Displaced students attended a morning session at the middle school, before the middle school students arrived for an afternoon session.

The primary school, adjoining the Swimming River, was built on marshland, and suffered major flood damage as a result of Superstorm Sandy two weeks ago. According to Superintendent Laura Morana, over two-thirds of the school’s flooring and carpeting were rendered unusable in Sandy’s wake.

“The school has been in existence for over 40 years,” Morana told redbankgreen, “and this by far the worst damage we’ve faced as a result of weather.”

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LITTLE SILVER BRACES FOR DETOUR WALLOPS

A map showing the overlay detours that take effect with the reopening of Little Silver schools on Thursday. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Drivers who ignore a widely flouted construction detour may be in for trouble starting Thursday morning, when Little Silver police plan to impose a second set of part-time detours in conjunction with the reopening of the borough’s two schools, authorities said.

The two-month-old shutdown of Seven Bridges Road, though frequently ignored by motorists, has already exacerbated traffic woes at key bottlenecks around town, as well as in the central business district, police Chief Dan Shaffery tells redbankgreen.

Now, in an effort to ensure the safety of children entering and leaving the Little Silver Point Road School, officials plan to implement an additional set of detours in the morning and afternoon – and those changes are apt to cause frustration among parents over the first few days of the school year, Shaffery acknowledges.

“The hardest part will be relying on people to follow the detour route, especially on Seven Bridges,” Shaffery said. “It should have been followed from the beginning, but it wasn’t.”

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ELECTRICAL WOES WON’T SHORT SCHOOL YEAR

Administrators developed a fire-watch system while awaiting the replacement of alarm equipment components. (Photo by Danielle Tepper. Click to enlarge)

By DANIELLE TEPPER

[Editor’s note below]

A busted fire alarm system won’t interrupt the homestretch into summer at Fair Haven’s Knollwood School.

Faced with having to close the school down for several days after water from a burst pipe knocked out the fire alarm, officials instead have adopted a “fire watch” system involving regular monitoring.

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NEW PRINCIPAL NAMED AT RED BANK PRIMARY

By JOHN T. WARD

Red Bank Primary School will have a new principal in September, and she’s a tweeter.

The district board of ed approved the selection of Erin Mulligan-Pierre, right, Tuesday night to replace Rick Cohen, said Superintendent Laura Morana.

The two-school district will also have a new business administrator, replacing Annie Darrow, who recently took a job with the Howell school district.

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LITTLE SILVER OKS ALL-DAY-KINDERGARTEN

A two-classrooom expansion of Point Road School to accommodate a new all-day kindergarten program won overwhelming approval by Little Silver voters Tuesday, according to figures reported by the Asbury Park Press.

A referendum question on whether to float a $750,000 bond toward the anticipated $1 million cost of the building expansion was approved by a vote of 628 to 420, the Press reports.

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LITTLE SILVER TO VOTE ON ALL-DAY-K FUNDS

Two classrooms would be added to the Point Road School to accommodate the program. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

After almost four years of study and discussion, a proposed full-day kindergarten program goes before Little Silver voters next month in the form of a funding referendum.

On the ballot: a $750,000 bond to pay for a two-classroom addition to the pre-k-to-fourth-grade Point Road School.

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