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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RED BANK: CHARTER BAILS FROM HEARING

pennotti menna 111115Charter school Principal Meredith Pennotti with Mayor Pasquale Menna on Veteran’s Day. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03Hours after a public hearing on the proposed doubling of enrollment at the Red Bank Charter School was announced Tuesday evening, charter school officials have reversed course and said they will not participate.

Instead, the school will hold its own forum on the controversial issue, open to the public, next week, Principal Meredtih Pennotti told redbankgreen Wednesday morning.

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RED BANK: CHARTER PANEL TO HOLD HEARING

barbara boas 011316Retired teacher Barbara Boas, center, was one of seven borough residents named to a study commission last week. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03Mayor 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.

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RED BANK: BECK WEIGHS IN ON CHARTER PLAN

rbcs 121515 2The charter school campus on Oakland Street, above, abuts a commercial building on Oakland Street in which the school recently leased space for current and possible future use. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03State Senator Jennifer Beck has asked the New Jersey education department to either fully fund Red Bank’s public schools or reject a proposed doubling of enrollment at the Red Bank Charter School.

In a letter sent to Commissioner David Hespe Governor Chris Christie on Friday, Beck says that allowing the charter school expansion to go ahead without a commensurate increase in funding for the district would “require Red Bank taxpayers to absorb an enormous tax increase and potentially leave public school students with less educational opportunities.”

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RED BANK: MARCHERS REJECT CHARTER PLAN

rb march 011316 1Protesters marched from the middle school to borough hall in freezing weather. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03Red Bank residents hoping to slow or halt a proposed doubling of enrollment at the Red Bank Charter School got help from the borough council Wednesday night.

After an estimated 200 parents, children, district employees and others marched in frigid weather from the middle school to borough hall, the council adopted a resolution asking the state Department to delay a decision on the charter school endeavor.

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RED BANK: COUNCIL TO SEEK CHARTER DELAY

rbms 121715 5Parents and kids packed the Red Bank Middle School auditorium last month to protest a planned expansion of the Red Bank Charter School. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03For the second time in a month, members of the Red Bank school community plan to rally again Wednesday night to oppose a proposed doubling of enrollment at the Red Bank Charter School.

This time, they’re planning to march from the middle school to borough hall for a semimonthly council session, where a resolution will be introduced asking the state Department to tap the brakes on the charter school endeavor.

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RED BANK: CHARTER PLAN SPARKS PUSHBACK

rbms 121715 3Superintendent Jared Rumage addressed a packed auditorium at the middle school Thursday night. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03A standing-room crowd of more than 400 filled the Red Bank Middle School auditorium to oppose a proposed doubling of enrollment at the Red Bank Charter School Thursday night.

The turnout, on a rainy and foggy night, surprised organizers, which they said reflected wildfire concern that the expansion, if approved by the state Department of Education, would occur at steep financial cost to the two-school borough district and taxpayers.

“I have two kids in the primary school, and I don’t want them to be hurt,” said Marion Street resident Genilda Shinners. “And I don’t want  my taxes going up, either.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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