Many Red Bank Preschoolers Educated Outside of Town
Rising enrollment numbers force Red Bank to send students out of district for preschool.
(Clarification: Though students will be attending the classrooms outside of Red Bank listed in this article, Red Bank is only leasing space in Little Silver and Lincroft. The classroom space in Tinton Falls and Middletown is part of the YMCAs preschool program, which Red Bank students attend.)
When Red Bank’s 3- and 4-year-olds hop onto yellow busses for preschool this school year there’s a good chance they won’t find themselves being introduced to education in borough classrooms.
As the Red Bank School District has expanded its preschool program to include every single one of the borough’s preschool-age children, it’s found that the classroom space to accommodate them all just doesn’t exist here.
The Red Bank Board of Education has responded by agreeing to lease classroom space in multiple outside towns, including Little Silver, Middletown, Tinton Falls, and Lincroft.
In all, Red Bank has allocated 23 classrooms to educate 345 preschool students, that’s up from the 248 that entered the 2011-12 school year with the district, some of whom were also educated outside of Red Bank.
With Red Bank having eliminated several classrooms in Red Bank – two at St. Anthony’s and more at Red Bank Primary School, where two classrooms have been converted into kindergarten, first- and third-grade classrooms – the only option, board members said, was to look outside of the borough.
“I’m not really happy that it’s outside of town, but I’d be so much more unhappy if we weren’t able to provide education to our kids,” Board Vice President Ben Forrest said at Tuesday’s board meeting. “I think it’s a really remarkable thing we’re offering here. It’s just too bad (all of the classes) aren’t in town. It just didn’t make sense, financially.”
Board Member Sue Viscomi, a member of the finance committee, said the district looked into all of its options before deciding to place children in classrooms outside of Red Bank. This was just the best decision, she said.
This is new territory for Red Bank, which has endeavored to reach all of its preschool age children but was restricted not just by the limited classrooms, but by lacking the necessary funding. The result was a lottery, which excluded children who weren’t lucky enough to have their names drawn.
A serious bump in state preschool funding from approximately $2.676 million to $4.079 for the new school year eliminated the problem of having to restrict the number of participating students but created a new one in the process: finding a place to put them all. District Superintendent Laura Morana said it’s a welcome problem, a positive change from having to turn families away from an education she feels every preschool-age child in the borough deserves.
As far as dividing classrooms throughout several nearby towns – and organizations, including Community YMCA, and Monmouth County Day Care, among others – that shouldn’t present much of a problem, she said.
“We will continue to oversee the program as well as our private providers,” she said. “It’s another site, but we know the quality is going to be the same wherever the students go.”