Fair Schools Red Bank
Social Justice & Fair Funding for Our Schools

The Issues

The Issues

Why are we demanding change?


Discrimination

Charter Schools are supposed to reflect the demographics of their parent district. In Red Bank, this is not the case. We have the distinction of being the most segregated district in all of New Jersey.

The Red Bank Charter School is 50% white, 39% Hispanic, 4% LEP, and 41% free-and-reduced lunch.

The Red Bank Borough Public Schools are 7% white, 81% Hispanic, 38% limited English proficient and 89% free-and-reduced lunch. [Source: NJ DOE enrollment data]

When one counts all of the children of Red Bank of age who attend either the public schools, the charter school, or private schools, that population is 21% white and 70% Hispanic. The Red Bank Charter School is far whiter, more affluent than the school-aged population of the town itself. [Source: Red Bank Borough Public Schools]


Educational demographics

After RBCS denied the segregative effects its practices had on district schools, they requested and were approved a weighted admissions lottery which aimed to address economic disparity, not racial or ethnic representation concerns. It failed.

RBCS Principal Meredith Pennotti acknowledged in an interview with the Asbury Park Press that changing the school's demographics will be a slow process. "How long is that going to take? Forever."

Ms. Pennotti -- The children and taxpayers of Red Bank don't have forever.


RBCS SPENds TAX $ TO Repair tarnished IMAGE

Red Bank Charter School spends $3300 each month on a private public relations firm to save it's tarnished reputation. Combined with an annual contract for a local parent-owned company to handle additional public relations, the Charter School spends almost $45,000 annually in Red Bank tax dollars.


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Fiscal Bias

The discrimination plays out with fiscal cruelty: while charter schools are supposed to be cost-effective, the per-pupil cost of the Red Bank Charter School has soared to $18,726, or $2,119 more than the $16,607 per-pupil cost of the Red Bank Borough Public Schools [Source: the NJ Department of Education’s Taxpayer’s Guide to Education Spending].

Red Bank Charter costs more than any other sending districts to Red Bank Regional High School (Shrewsbury was $18,454/student and Little Silver was $17,767/student). The RBCS per-pupil cost is so high it exceeds that of the much more affluent Rumson school district, which is $18,320/student.


duplicative costs

Red Bank taxpayers spend nearly $2 million a year in duplicative costs (principal, guidance counselor, specials teachers, etc.) to support the Red Bank Charter School. [Source: state audits of both schools].

Meredith Pennotti, who as Red Bank Charter School principal oversees 200 students, now makes more than Red Bank Borough School Superintendent Jared Rumage, who is in charge of more than 1,400 students. On April 26, 2016, the Red Bank Charter School granted Ms. Pennotti the first of two raises – a retroactive raise to July 1, 2015 for a total salary of $146,120.  [Source: RBCS Trustee Minutes for the April 26, 2016 meeting] At the Board of Trustees meeting of June 28, 2016, Meredith Pennotti's salary was once again raised, now totaling $151,964.80 [Source: RBCS Board of Trustees Minutes.]

Dr. Rumage makes $145,000.


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WHITE FLIGHT

At its roots: RBCS was formed to prevent white flight

While charter schools were created to provide an alternative publicly funded education, the RBCS had another goal in mind when it was founded nearly two decades ago. In the words of RBCS Board of Trustees Vice President Roger Foss, the RBCS was formed in 1998 to “mitigate the effect of white flight.”[1]

Throughout its 18-year history, the Board of Education for the Red Bank Borough District Schools (“the Board”) has raised its concerns about the segregation to the Commissioner, and it even took legal action in an attempt to reverse it—all to no avail. Prior to the granting of the RBCS’s initial charter, the Board requested that the Commissioner conduct a hearing to consider the adverse racial impact the RBCS would have on the District Schools. The Commissioner rejected the Board’s request.

[1] Roger Foss, Vice President of the RBCS Board of Trustees, February 10, 2016.  Audio of quote: https://vimeo.com/155288308 Full recording of press conference can be found here http://www.redbankgreen.com/2016/02/red-bank-charter-officials-defend-plan/#more-102350


downward slide

The Red Bank Charter School promotes itself based on academic performance. Contrary to those assertions, their test scores declined each year for the final four years of the NJ ASK:

Despite the demographic and funding disparity, Red Bank Borough Public School students are overcoming significant hurdles as they progress through grades. According to the most recent NJ PARCC/state standardized test scores:

Red Bank Middle School eighth graders achieved 2% higher average PARCC math scores (RBMS 727 vs RBCS 712) and 1% higher average PARCC English Language Arts scores (RBMS 751 vs RBCS 744) than the students at Red Bank Charter School.


Are the kids in the blue shirts worth more than the ones in red shirts?
— a Red Bank parent