Rising Enrollment Nets Red Bank More Aid
Red Bank School District to get an additional $373,912 in State aid.
Red Bank School District will see a much needed bump in school aid thanks to recent State legislation that dedicates more funding to districts with rapidly rising student enrollment numbers.
At its regular meeting Tuesday night, the board accepted an additional $373,912 in State aid. The total will be added to the $2.256 million the district received in aid for its current 2012-13 school year budget.
Red Bank Board of Education member Sue Viscomi said she’s glad that the state finally recognized the need to help cover the costs associated with the district’s rise in enrollment. In 2008, Red Bank had just over 1,000 students. In 2011, the borough’s student population – children in grades kindergarten through eighth – ballooned to 1,266, according to Superintendent Laura Morana.
Though the district pleaded its case to the State and even got an assist from State Sen. Jennifer Beck, R-12, who said Red Bank’s schools are underfunded by as much as 20-percent based on New Jersey’s own calculations, funding increases proved to be nominal and forced the district to make some tough decisions during its last budget period.
Red Bank has not had to let go of any teachers to help balance its budget, but it has made significant program cutbacks and even delayed, indefinitely, some necessary building maintenance, among other fiscal considerations. How the district plans on spending its newfound loot remains to be seen.
“Dr. Morana and her team will come up with a plan. First they’ll look at the hard decisions that were made last year, look at the things that needed to be cut, and go from there,” Viscomi said. “I’m glad (the State) was listening. We needed it.”
In all, the district’s budget is $20.834 million, a majority of which is raised through the local tax levy. Red Bank also provides free preschool to every eligible three and four year old in the district, though the funding for that program is not part of the regular school budget.
The new line of funding comes from a bill signed into law by Gov. Chris Christie in August. The bill, S-1792, provides supplemental funding for districts with significant enrollment growth. In all $4.141 million from the Property Tax Relief Fund was set aside to cover the cost. Avon was the only other district in Monmouth County to receive additional funding.