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
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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.

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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.

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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.

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RED BANK: CHARTER SCHOOL SLATES FORUM

135 MONMOUTH 121515 1
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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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: MENNA WANTS OUT OF REVAL

menna 010114Mayor Pasquale Menna called the Press findings “disturbing” and “somewhat surreal.” (File photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD
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The Red Bank council took steps to put the borough’s switch to a new property assessment method on hold Wednesday night, two days after an Asbury Park Press investigation found questionable dealings in the Monmouth County program.

Mayor Pasquale Menna told a small audience at borough hall that the Press article raised “troubling” questions about “unholy alliances” at the county level in the creation of the Assessment Demonstration Program.

At the same time, the program “removes a lot of protections” for taxpayers who want to challenge their assessments, Menna said.

“It’s very disturbing,” Menna said at a council hearing, adding later in an interview with redbankgreen that the tangle of relationships uncovered by the Press was “somewhat surreal.”

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RED BANK COUNCIL Q&A: MICHAEL BALLARD

michael ballard 090915 1Michael Ballard, Democrat. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

Election 2015 graphic

The balance of political power is at play in the November 3 election in Red Bank, which features four candidates for two three-year seats on the borough council. All four have indicated they’ll participate in the West Side Community Group’s annual candidates’ forum at the River Street Commons at 7 p.m. on Thursday, October 1. For more information about the event, take it here.

To help voters compare the contenders in terms of personal background and positions on key issues, redbankgreen emailed them identical sets of questions late last week. Here’s what Michael Ballard had to say in response.

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RED BANK COUNCIL Q&A: MARK TAYLOR

mark taylor 033015Mark Taylor, Republican. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

Election 2015 graphic

The balance of political power is at stake in the November 3 election in Red Bank, which features four candidates for two three-year seats on the borough council. All four have indicated they’ll participate in the West Side Community Group’s annual candidates’ forum at the River Street Commons at 7 p.m. on Thursday, October 1. For more information about the event, take it here.

To help voters compare the contenders in terms of personal background and positions on key issues, redbankgreen emailed them identical sets of questions late last week. Here’s what Mark Taylor had to say in response.

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RED BANK COUNCIL Q&A: MICHAEL DUPONT

dupontMichael DuPont, Democrat. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

Election 2015 graphic

The balance of political power is at stake in the November 3 election in Red Bank, which features four candidates for two three-year seats on the borough council. All four have indicated they’ll participate in the West Side Community Group’s annual candidates’ forum at the River Street Commons at 7 p.m. on Thursday, October 1. For more information about the event, take it here.

To help voters compare the contenders in terms of personal background and positions on key issues, redbankgreen emailed them identical sets of questions late last week. Here’s what Michael DuPont, the sole incumbent in the race, had to say in response.

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RED BANK COUNCIL Q&A: MICHAEL WHELAN

mike whelan 033015Michael Whelan, Republican. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

Election 2015 graphic

The balance of political power is at stake in the November 3 election in Red Bank, which features four candidates for two three-year seats on the borough council. All four have indicated they’ll participate in the West Side Community Group’s annual candidates’ forum at the River Street Commons at 7 p.m. on Thursday, October 1. For more information about the event, take it here.

To help voters compare the contenders in terms of personal background and positions on key issues, redbankgreen emailed them identical sets of questions late last week. Here’s what Michael Whelan had to say in response.

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RED BANK: DEADLINE ON TAXES EXTENDED

taxesRed Bank property owners will have until August 25 to pay their third-quarter tax bills without incurring a penalty, under a resolution past by the borough council Wednesday night.

The grace period usually ends on the 10th day of the month quarterly taxes are due. But because the tax rate for the new budget year was not certified by Monmouth County until July 17, bills won’t be mailed until July 31 – and the law requires a 25-day payment period, according to tax collector Ashlesha Deshplande. Still, for those who pay later than August 25, the interest applies to the full 25-day interim, she cautioned. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

RED BANK: HOSPITAL EYES MORE REAL ESTATE

rb 91 & 95 e front 041515Riverciew has deals to buy 91 East Front Street, at left above, and 95 East Front, center. It already owns 103 East Front, seen at far right. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

taxesRiverview Medical Center is planning to increase its holdings of Red Bank real estate, redbankgreen has learned.

The expected acquisition by the hospital of two East Front street buildings could lead to growth in the roster of untaxed property in a borough where officials have complained the burden is unfairly falling on homeowners and other property owners.

Because of that possibility, Mayor Pasquale Menna said the deal means borough and hospital officials need to talk.

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RED BANK: NO TAX INCREASE

dupontCouncilman Mike DuPont credited borough employees for financial sacrifices that helped keep taxes level with last year. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

taxesRed Bank property owners won’t be getting a 3.1-percent local property tax for 2015, as previously expected.

In fact, there will be no increase at all under a municipal budget adopted by the borough council Wednesday night.

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RED BANK: BUDGET, BONDS & A NEW HIRE

By JOHN T. WARD

taxesA first look at this year’s budget, and public confusion over the impact of a series of proposed bonds, dominated Wednesday night’s bimonthly meeting of the Red Bank council.

The governing body also moved toward the creation of a new $90,000-a-year job at borough hall: information technology director.

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RED BANK: WEST SIDERS MARCH IN PROTEST

rb march 102514 4rb march 102514 2About three dozen protesters marched through Red Bank Saturday morning to object to rising property taxes, a proposed spray park at Bellhaven Nature Area, borough hiring practices and what they termed police “aggressiveness.”

Organizer Freddie Boynton said the event, spotlighting concerns of West Siders, was not meant to be partisan, though it called for “new leadership” at borough hall.  “There’s a lot of frustration on this side of town,” said Boynton, a retired DPW employee. “We’re not being treated like the rest of the town is.”  (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

SEA BRIGHT: EX-MAYOR MAY GET FIRE STATION

sb fire house 040114 2Two fire trucks have been relocated out of town and another sits beneath a tent since the firehouse, in the background, was condemned. Former Mayor Jo-Ann Kalaka-Adams, below. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

jo-ann-kalaka-adamsLast we heard from former Sea Bright Mayor Jo-Ann Kalaka Adams, she had just failed to relcaim her old job after an election race that turned in part on property taxes she owed the town.

Fast-forward to now. Kalaka-Adams may start collecting $4,500 a month in rent from the borough for a vacant lot, even though she owes the town $40,000 in overdue property taxes, according to the Asbury Park Press.

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RED BANK CANDIDATE: CINDY BURNHAM

Election_2013_QA

CBURNHAMOne of four Q&As with the candidates for two, three-year terms on the Red Bank Borough Council in next weeks election. Kathy Horgan and Sharon Lee, both Democrats, are the incumbents; Cindy Burnham and Sean Di Somma, Republicans, are the challengers. Their answers to redbankgreen‘s questions are unedited.

Name: Cynthia (cindy) Burnham, age 58, grew up in Colts Neck

Age/DOB:

Where did you grow up?

How long have you been a resident of Red Bank?

I lived in RB from 1979 to 1993.  In 1993, I moved to Harrison Ave, which is half RB & half Fair Haven. While I resided in Fair Haven,  I continued to own investment property in RB and persisted in my civic involvement in RB.  Last year, I moved into my investment property that I have owned for 27yrs on Wallace St. and next month will be moving my daughters in who are now in college.

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RED BANK CANDIDATE: SEAN DI SOMMA

Election_2013_QA

SDSOMMAOne of four Q&As with the candidates for two, three-year terms on the Red Bank Borough Council in next week’s election. Kathy Horgan and Sharon Lee, both Democrats, are the incumbents; Cindy Burnham and Sean Di Somma, Republicans, are the challengers. Their answers to redbankgreen‘s questions are unedited; the links below were provided by Di Somma.

Name: Sean Patrick Di Somma

Age/DOB: 3/3/1982

Where did you grow up? Bergen County, NJ

How long have you been a resident of Red Bank?

Roughly a year and a half. When I moved here, I was appalled at the misinformation and ineptitude of the council. I began speaking out and was recruited to run for this office when there was vacancy.

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RED BANK CANDIDATE: KATHY HORGAN

Election_2013_QA

KHORGANOne of four Q&As with the candidates for two, three-year terms on the Red Bank Borough Council in next weeks election. Kathy Horgan and Sharon Lee, both Democrats, are the incumbents; Cindy Burnham and Sean Di Somma, Republicans, are the challengers. Their answers to redbankgreen‘s questions are unedited.

Name: Kathleen Horgan

Age: 68

Where did you grow up: Oyster Bay, Long Island, New York

How long have you been a resident of Red Bank: 14  years

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RED BANK CANDIDATE: SHARON LEE

Election_2013_QA

SLEEOne of four Q&As with the candidates for two, three-year terms on the Red Bank Borough Council in next week’s election. Kathy Horgan and Sharon Lee, both Democrats, are the incumbents; Cindy Burnham and Sean Di Somma, Republicans, are the challengers. Their answers to redbankgreen‘s questions are unedited.

Name: Sharon Lee

Age/DOB: 58

Where did you grow up? Germany, Red Bank

How long have you been a resident of Red Bank?

Life long! With brief absences, being a military dependent (army), college and a beach hideaway 58 years. Red bank has been my address.

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SEA BRIGHT: GROUP TO PAY ANCHORAGE TAB

The Anchorage Apartments, overlooking the Shrewsbury River, would be razed for a park under a DEP plan. (Click to enlarge)

By SARAH KLEPNER

Sea Bright’s borough council voted Thursday night to work with the state Department of Environmental Protection on turning the Anchorage Apartments into open space – after a group volunteered to make up for the town’s lost tax revenue.

The council made clear, though, that it would not support any parking on the property, which is located across Ocean Avenue from an ocean beach owned by the state and maintained by the borough. The governing body also insisted local control in its resolution of support, which is non-binding on the state.

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