Red Bank Charter School received more than 100 applications for just 13 openings at the school next year.
RED BANK, NJ – April 4, 2017 – After an extensive outreach that included advertising in local media, mailers, social media and flyers and banners throughout the borough, Red Bank Charter School received more than 100 applications for just 13 openings at the school next year.
With just 13 seats available, the preK-8 charter school held its lottery on Thursday evening. The 80 percent of the students who applied and did not win a seat in the lottery will be placed on Red Bank Charter School’s waiting list, which has more than 100 children hoping for a spot to open.
For the second year, Red Bank Charter School weighted its lottery to increase the chances that children from low-income families would be picked in the lottery. Of the 104 applications the school received, 27 qualified as low-income, meaning their chances of being selected were increased by 3:2.
“It’s unfortunate that we had so few openings at our school for the many families in Red Bank who want to exercise their choice,” said Meredith Pennotti, the principal of Red Bank Charter School. “There is clearly significant demand among Red Bank families for a school that offers children the opportunity to learn and grow in a racially and ethnically integrated school immersed in one another’s culture.”
Red Bank Charter School recently had its charter renewed by acting state Education Commissioner Kimberly Harrington. In its review of the school, the DOE noted the school “promotes a culture of high expectations and is safe, respectful and supportive.”
Red Bank is among the most racially diverse schools in the state. For the 2016-17 school year, Red Bank Charter School is 43 percent white, 43 percent Hispanic and 12 percent African-American, closely reflecting the school-age population of Red Bank, which is 36 percent white, 39 percent Hispanic and 25 percent African American, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Communities Survey 2010-14 five-year estimates.
“Red Bank Charter School prepares students not only for the community in which they live, but for the world they will inherit as adults,” Pennotti said.
The school made extensive efforts to reach out to the entire Red Bank community, including targeted advertising on Facebook to Spanish-only speaking residents of Red Bank. The post reached 4,219 Spanish-speaking residents in Red Bank.
Red Bank Charter School also advertised in the Spanish-only Latinos Unidos de NJ and placed Spanish-language posters throughout the community. A bi-lingual mailer was sent to every home in Red Bank.
The school also advertised in The Red Bank Green, Two River Times and The Hub as well as placed a large banner announcing the lottery across Shrewsbury Avenue.
“We made an extensive effort to reach everyone in the community, both English and Spanish speaking,” Pennotti said. “I sincerely doubt there are many people in Red Bank who didn’t know we were holding a lottery.”
Pennotti said she hoped more low-income and minority students could attend, but the school’s enrollment is capped at 200 by its charter, leaving very few openings at the pre-school and kindergarten level for new students. State charter school law allows siblings of existing students to automatically enroll.
Last year, Red Bank Charter School sought to increase opportunities for Red Bank families by doubling in size, but residents in the community, encouraged by the New Jersey Education Association, rallied against the expansion and the state DOE rejected it.
“It’s unfortunate that group of people in the community denied all these families in Red Bank the opportunity to chose a school that’s right for their children,” Pennotti said.