SOMSD BOARD OF EDUCATION NEWSLETTER

November 15, 2021 Public Meeting Recap | Vol.1 Issue 7

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Highlights from the November 15, 2021 Regular Session Board of Education Meeting

The District will share a monthly newsletter with the SOMSD community to keep you informed and to provide a recap of key action items discussed and approved by the Board of Education during their monthly regular Public Session meetings. The BOE meeting recap newsletter will be shared monthly after each regular session public BOE meeting (and will only be provided for regular-session Board meetings).

Board President's Monthly Statement

The school board meeting is a business meeting in public and not a meeting with the public. Oftentimes it may appear to members of our audience that the Board of Education takes action with very little comment and in many cases a unanimous vote. Before a matter is placed on the agenda at a public meeting, the Administration has thoroughly reviewed the matter with the Superintendent of Schools/Chief School Administrator (CSA). If the Superintendent of Schools/Chief School Administrator is satisfied that the matter is ready to be presented to the Board of Education, it is then referred to the appropriate Board Committee. The Members of the Board Committee work with Administration and the Superintendent to assure that the members fully understand the matter. After the committee discusses the matter, it is presented to the full Board for discussion before any action is taken. Only then, is it placed on the agenda for action at a public meeting.

Superintendent's Monthly Report

  • Superintendent Taylor shared, "as we reach the Thanksgiving milestone where many in our community pause to reflect and give ‘thanks’, I would like to acknowledge and thank all who have assisted our District in overcoming many obstacles to successfully launch and sustain our school year, including school leaders, teachers and support staff (central office, counselors, CST members, school nurses, facilities department, etc.) as well as our students, families and community members";
  • Addressed the social-emotional toll that Covid-19 has had on students and staff members. Shared that over the last few years the District's annual budget has added mental health support to our schools. He urged SOMSD families to let their schools know if they sense that their child is having challenges and equally encouraged District instructional professionals, school leaders, etc., to do the same for themselves and let their supervisor or our HR Department know if they need support;
  • Encouraged SOMSD community to remain vigilant against the threat of COVID-19; as such additional testing dates have been added through our partner MediMobile, in addition to Saturday testing, testing will also now be available every Wednesday, 4 pm - 6 pm at the BOE Office, 525 Academy Street, DMR (note due to Thanksgiving break no testing will be available on Wed., 11/24 or Sat., 11/27);

  • Thanksgiving Break Travel Survey: Reminder to families of students who are not fully vaccinated, to submit the Thanksgiving Travel Survey that will assist the District in continuing to stop the spread of the pandemic in our schools. Submissions due by Mon., 11/22 - bit.ly/2YRG0rO;

  • Happy to announce that the District is moving towards the end of the work connected to the security upgrades for Under Hill Field and are hopeful to have a full reopening to the public by the first of the year. More information to the community will be forthcoming

BOE President's Report

  • Offered congratulations to Qawi Telesford, Arun Vadlamani and Kaitlin Wittleder on their election to the Board of Education. They will be sworn in on January 5th in person at 525 Academy Street in Maplewood.


  • Encourages District families to take advantage of Covid testing via our partnership with MediMobile, testing is readily available every Saturday from 9 am – 3 pm, at the CHS Gymnasium and now every Wednesday from 4-6 pm here at the Central Office, 525 Academy Street (open to all Essex County residents);


  • Provided an ethics update regarding Board Member Malespina's clarification request sent directly to School Ethics Commission on the advisory opinion about leaving the dais during the presentation at the September 20th meeting;


  • Overview of Essex County School Board Association (SBA) Meeting: Attended the November County SBA meeting at the Glen Ridge Country Club. Special guests included the Acting Commissioner of Education, Dr. Allen-McMillian and Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver. It was good to attend in person and hear inspiring speeches from both Lt. Gov Oliver, Dr. Allen-McMillan and the 2021-22 Teacher of the Year, Ms. Theresa Maughan.


View/Search SOMSD Board of Education Policies

The District has partnered with Strauss Esmay to provide a more user-friendly and easier way for community members to view/search for District-approved BOE policies/regulations. Polices can be found by # or by inputting a search request by subject.

Board of Education Meeting - Public Session, November 15, 2021

Upcoming Meetings

Current BOE Members

Note: to email all board members, please email boemembers@somsd.k12.nj.us.


Thair Joshua
Board President
Term: 2020 - 2022
email: tjoshua@somsd.k12.nj.us


Shannon Cuttle
1st Vice President

Term: 2019 - 2021
email: scuttle@somsd.k12.nj.us


Erin Siders
2nd Vice President

Term: 2020 - 2022
email:esiders@somsd.k12.nj.us


Susan Bergin
Term: 2021 - 2023
email: sbergin@somsd.k12.nj.us


Annemarie Maini
Term: 2019 - 2021
email: amaini@somsd.k12.nj.us


Elissa Malespina
Term: 2021 - 2023
email: emalesp1@somsd.k12.nj.us


Chris Sabin
Term: 2021 - 2021
email: csabin@somsd.k12.nj.us


Courtney Winkfield
Term: 2021 - 2023
email: cwinkfie@somsd.k12.nj.us


Johanna Wright
Term: 2020 - 2022
email: johannawright@somsd.k12.nj.us


Student Representatives to the Board of Education

Noah Morros
Term: 2021 - 2022
email: boestudentrep1@somsd.k12.nj.us


Vanessa Previlon
Term: 2021 - 2022
email: boestudentrep2@somsd.k12.nj.us

South Orange & Maplewood School District

The mission of the South Orange Maplewood School District is to empower and inspire each student to explore and imagine, to pursue personal passions, and to collectively create a better future by creating a learner-centered environment through multiple pathways; reimagined structures, systems and supports; innovative teaching; partnering with families; and maximizing community expertise and resources.