We sat down with Dr. Jared Rumage, Superintendent of Red Bank’s Pre-K, Primary & Middles Schools.
Q: Tell us a little about yourself and what made you decide to go into the teaching profession
Rumage: I was interested originally coaching, earned a Marketing degree at Villanova, worked in NYC to make sure that’s what I wanted to do. After a while that convinced me to get into education. I was an athletic director, teacher and Principal at different schools for about five years each. I was driving by Red Bank one night and saw on the marquee that they were looking for a Superintendent. I applied, interviewed and a month later they offered me the job.
Q: Dr. Rumage, you’ve been the Superintendent of the Pre-K, Primary, and Middle schools now for over four years and manage over 1,400 students and about two hundred staff members. What was your biggest challenge in transitioning from teaching to administration?
Rumage: At first, I didn't’t know if it was the right thing for me to do because I was really into coaching and as an administrator I had to give it up. The challenge was being able to give honest and constructive feedback and establishing that rapport with people.
Q: When you began as Superintendent in 2014, Red Bank was facing significant challenges such as rapidly rising enrollment in a district where some 90 percent of the students qualify for free or reduced-cost lunches which places a significant burden on the taxpayers. What’s the present situation and how have you managed it?
Rumage: Our present situation is stable. Our demographic is the same as four years ago, but unfortunately our funding is also the same meaning we’re not receiving additional funding. Currently we are the most underfunded school district in Monmouth County, presently at 39% based on the School Funding Reform Act, so that’s a challenge. We’ve been creative in assessing our budgets and making sure that every dollar spent is spent on our major goals and in alignment with our mission and that there is absolutely no waste.
We’ve also connected with the local community and have worked with a number of partners to supplement programs that we could not be able to provide poor children because of our underfunding.
Q: Do you see a need for a future expansion of the classroom buildings?
Rumage: I think we do need additional space and it would be most beneficial to our community and children to possibly have a different alignment, meaning to have our Pre-K and our Kindergarten together, and possibly having our fourth graders moved from Middle School down to the Elementary Primary School environment. It’s difficult to pinpoint where the population’s going to be in five years and it can sneak up on you. We are in the process of partnering with a consulting firm to come up with a five-year plan.
Q: What’s your outlook on the future of Red Bank’s Primary and Middle Schools?
Rumage: Excited. We’ve accomplished so much in the last four years which have been the greatest and most rewarding four years for me as an educator and a human being. Our student achievement results have improved, improvement in meeting the needs of the whole child, and really connecting deeply with our community, business organizations, local theaters as well as our families. We truly are the heart of the community and it’s all about people. We have the right people in the right places, get them the resources they need and then we get the hell out of the way
Q: Young kids are always full of surprises and can say the funniest things. Any stories?
Rumage: One of my favorite things is when kids comment on my ears, asking me if I’m an elf, or if I work with Santa which I’ve probably heard over a hundred times.