Sept. 20, 2021 Public Meeting Recap | Vol.1 Issue 5

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Highlights from the September 20, 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 thanked Task Force Members, Nurse Porter, our Departments of Health, Principals, Teachers, Support Staff, Parent Volunteers, and our students for your commitment to a successful start to our school year.
  • In his statement, Superintendent Taylor also shared, "As has been stated many times, the last 18 months have been arduous for us all, we are continuing our commitment to do all we can to return to, as much normalcy as possible. This statement of course is not a decree that our start has been perfect. No school year starts perfectly there will always be challenges...however, our commitment is to do all we can to keep our students and staff safe, while keeping their daily engagement consistent.
  • Superintendent Taylor also provided thank you's to our State Commissioner of Education, Township Leaders, our Board President, the Presidents of ASCA and SOMEA, and others who contributed their time to the staff's Virtual Staff Convocation which took place on September 9.
  • Shared that BOE approved his Superintendent's employee agreement. In his public statement, Dr. Taylor said, "I would not change my decision to join the South Orange and Maplewood School District Family. We have done so much together in a short period of time. Including..."

    • the realization of an Intentional Integration plan that was still being researched and considered when I arrived. We have now placed the first ‘class’ (well over 500 students) via the Board-approved Intentional Integration Algorithm, in partnership with a renowned expert in the field.

    • We have broken ground on four multi-million dollar construction projects. A part of the Long Range Facilities Plan that was locally approved but not yet fully adopted in July of 2019.

    • We have created a public-facing platform that provides our parents with access to our curriculum while also supporting our teachers and administrators.

    • We have distributed thousands of Chromebooks to our students and launched learning management systems that allow us to not only teach virtually (if/when necessary) but also helps our students to develop their executive functioning skills, during a time when staying on task is an ever-growing challenge for us all.

    • The high-level positions in our District that were held by “Interim” leaders are now served by full-time District Administrators, including the Principal of our flagship Columbia High School.

    • Our reimagined Central Office Design now reflects our commitment to Access and Equity as well as Curricular Development, Academic Rigor and Social-Emotional Learning.

    • Our Board of Education’s governance committee structure was reimagined and realigned to ensure our policies are at the forefront of our work.

    • Lastly, our communications are now pushed out to our community and families regularly via many platforms including, relaunched social media accounts, digital newsletters, text-blasts and robocalls (including messages that now go to our CHS students directly in communication distributions via the recommendation of a former Board Student Rep).

BOE President's Report

In the Board President's absence the report was delivered by Board Member Cuttle:

  • Board President wished a happy birthday to Board Members Cuttle, Maini, Sabin, Winkfield and Wright, all of whom have or will celebrate a birthday in September.

  • Thanked the District for partnering with MediMobile to provide testing to all SOMA residents; to date, they are averaging 250 tests every Saturday. On behalf of the Board, he also encouraged District families to take advantage of the testing program, irrespective of one’s vaccination status. Update: MediMobile will now be providing testing services at CHS indefinitely and have extended their testing time to 9 am - 3 pm, every Saturday.
Board of Education Meeting - Public Session, September 20, 2021

Key Action Items

  • A full list of action items and associated resolutions is available here.
  • In a 7-2 BOE vote, Superintendent, Dr. Ronald G. Taylor's employment contract has been extended by one year and was approved for July 1, 2021 - June 30, 2023;
  • Susie Budine was approved as the new Assistant Superintendent, Special Services for the South Orange & Maplewood School District (replacing Dr. Melody Alegria). Budine will begin the role in November 2021.

Approved Resolutions:

There were second readings of two policies:

There were first readings of eight policies:

  1. 1648 Restart and Recovery Plan
  2. 1648.02 Remote Learning Option for Families
  3. 1648.11 The Road Forward Covid-19 Health and Safety
  4. 1648.13 School Employee Vaccination Requirements
  5. 2417 Student Intervention and Referral Services
  6. 3160.01 Quarantine for Teaching Staff
  7. 5751 Sexual Harassment
  8. 5770 Student Right of Privacy
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.

Upcoming Meetings

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.