Red Bank schools receive boost from additional state aid

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RED BANK – Administrators in the Red Bank Borough Public Schools have determined the allocations for an additional $1.79 million in state aid the district will receive for the 2018-19 school year.

Under Gov. Phil Murphy’s initial proposal in March, Red Bank’s state aid package for 2018-19 was expected to total $3.75 million. Using that number, district administrators crafted a $28 million budget for the 2018-19 school year.

After negotiations with state Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D-Gloucester, Salem, Cumberland), Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin (D-Middlesex) and other legislative leaders, Murphy signed a bill into law that increased Red Bank’s state aid for 2018-19 to $5.54 million, an increase of $1.79 million.

The revised state aid figures were announced on July 13.

Following the state’s announcement, the Board of Education passed a resolution on July 17 to accept the revised state aid amount and additional finances for 2018-19.

According to district administrators, the additional $1.79 million in state aid will be allocated as follows: $738,906 to replace cuts that were made in the original budget, such as a world language teacher, child study team services and other instructional and administrative support staff; $596,220 to provide educational support staff to students; district administrators say the staff members will bolster classroom instruction and provide intervention and enrichment opportunities previously unavailable to students; $300,000 to meet unanticipated needs for special services; and $153,534 to be distributed to the Red Bank Charter School.

The amount of state aid received by Red Bank has been a source of concern for district administrators, who stated that the $3.75 million the district was expected to receive for 2018-19 represented 39 percent of the $9.5 million the district was entitled to under the School Funding Reform Act (SFRA) of 2008.

Following the receipt of the additional state aid, the $5.54 million that Red Bank will receive for 2018-19 represents 58 percent of the $9.5 million the district is entitled to under SFRA, according to district administrators.

In recognition of state legislators’ and executives’ efforts to help Red Bank receive an increase in state aid, board members passed a resolution thanking Murphy, Sweeney, Coughlin, Sen. Vin Gopal (D-Monmouth), Assemblyman Eric Houghtaling (D-Monmouth), Assemblywoman Joann Downey (D-Monmouth) and former Sen. Jennifer Beck.

“The tagline of the Red Bank schools has been heard by the state of New Jersey,” Superintendent of Schools Jared J. Rumage said in a press release. “After many years of being underfunded as per SFRA, the district received notification on July 13 that the state aid allocation for the 2018-19 school year will include a substantial increase with the anticipation of fully funding Red Bank and all other underfunded school districts over the next seven years.

“In spite of many challenges, the students, staff, and community of Red Bank have continued to do more and more with less,” he continued. “Because our district and community continued to Dream Big, we now have received some help to get there.

“As a school community, the Red Bank Borough Public Schools have inspired our students to Dream Big and we have deliberately prepared our budgets to help them achieve their dreams,” Rumage wrote. “Today, our Big Dreams have been partially realized and we are excited about what the future will bring. A once hidden gem of this community will now shine brightly to benefit all students and the entire community of Red Bank.”