As a Matter of Fact!

SOMSD Year-End Newsletter - June 26, 2020, Vol. 1- ISSUE 16

Week's Highlights: BOE Unanimously Approves the SOMSD Intentional Integration Initiative Framework

SOMSD to Move Forward with the Intentional Integration Initiative (III) Framework

On Monday, June 22, the Board of Education unanimously approved the Intentional Integration Initiative (III) Framework presented by Superintendent Taylor. This landmark approval was two-years in the making and paves the way for the SOMSD to begin the work of integration in our schools. Highlights of the integration initiative include:

  • Board voted to develop an algorithm that will equitably distribute students among schools, based on key facts such as parental income and education level, neighborhood proximity, sibling preference and race;
  • The district will partially model its integration approach to the Berkely Model;
  • The work of integration will begin with a pilot of the Kindergarteners entering our District in September of 2021;
  • Year 2 of the III would address the next group of Kindergarteners entering our district in September of 2022, as well as 6th graders entering middle school that year.

Click here to view the full presentation.

Distance Learning Journey Update/Survey Results:

The District presented its Distance Learning survey results (from parents as well as students). The purpose of the brief review is to bring the SOMSD community up to date with our Distance Learning Methodology including a:

  • Brief review of the circumstances and guidelines for distance learning including:
  • Initial Emergent Requirements; - Governor mandated extension of closure;
  • Health-Related Closure Update (which includes: instructional planning process; technology distribution; food distribution; and mental health support)
  • Survey Results − Parents & Students
  • Next steps

Click here to view the full presentation: SOMSD EOY Distance Learning Update Presentation

SOMSD Virtual Retirement Celebration

Each year the School District hosts an annual Retirement Celebration as part of our efforts to honor our Retirees. This year, due to school Covid-related closures, we were unable to honor our retirees in person, but want to honor them via a virtual presentation. Congratulations and many thanks to our retiring staff members! We are so grateful for your dedication and years of service to SOMSD students. You will be missed and we wish you nothing but the best in the next phase of your journey!
SOMSD Virtual Retirement Celebration - 2020

Thank You to Our Teachers/Staff

Hello SOMSD Teachers & Staff,

I hope that this communique finds you well. Congratulations on completing a school year that will indeed go down in the record books as one of the most challenging. As we transition to the summer, please know that District Leadership is already preparing for the fall. While there is still much uncertainty, in that we don't know if we will be in a traditional brick and mortar setting, distance methodology, or some form of a hybrid; we are working together to ensure that we are nimble and able to shift quickly and efficiently.

Please know, your hard work has not gone unnoticed, one thing we have never had to question is the commitment and capability of our District professionals. This is evidenced by the many phenomenal stories that have been shared with me regarding the love, enthusiasm, dedication, and energy families have felt from their child(ren's) teachers. We hope that you are able to take the summer to rejuvenate. We will be reaching out to you periodically with updates on our fall preparation, including professional development opportunities.

Wishing you and your families a fun, relaxing, and restful summer.

Educationally Yours,

Dr. Ronald G. Taylor

Superintendent of Schools

Message from the District

Dear SOMSD Community,

As a District, we would like to take a moment and proudly recognize that June is LGBTQ+ PRIDE Month, which is celebrating 50 years of Pride, and 51 years since the Stonewall Uprising against police brutality galvanized the modern LGBTQ+ civil rights movement.

By proclaiming and recognizing Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer Pride Month, the SOMSD Board of Education welcomes, affirms and stands with our students, staff, caregivers and families and commits to providing a welcoming, respectful, inclusive, and safe learning environment for all of our students.

To our LGBTQ+ students, staff, families and community we see you, we celebrate and support you. We stand committed to the well-being and safety of all of our students and staff with a focus on equity and inclusion. We also recognize the needs of students who live at intersections who are disproportionately impacted by racism and homophobia, transphobia and school-based victimization because they are both Black and LGBTQ+ and we stand committed to ensuring that school policies and practices are inclusive and supportive of all our students, especially with regard to anti-racism and anti-discrimination inclusive of sexual identity, gender, orientation and expression.

We also support the new state curriculum requirements to commemorate and recognize the diverse contributions that Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (+) individuals have made in our culture, history, and society by championing civil rights.

The South Orange Maplewood Board of Education along with the school district is committed to creating a welcoming environment for all our students. By recognizing LGBTQ+ Pride Month, the South Orange Maplewood Board of Education encourages all students, staff and families to listen to each other with the intention to understand, not to reply. Listen with the intention to grow and expand understanding beyond your own experiences. Listen and be present with each other.


The South Orange & Maplewood School District

Welcome New CHS Principal, Frank Sanchez to SOMSD

The South Orange & Maplewood School District is happy to welcome Frank Sanchez as the new principal of Columbia High School.

After a rigorous, multi-step, and multi-round process which included the input of many stakeholders among them, the Assistant Superintendent for Administration, senior leadership members and a cross-section of stakeholders, including the observing Board's Personnel Committee Chair, parents, members of the District’s two collective bargaining units (ASCA and SOMEA), CHS administrators who would be working with the appointee, the District’s Assistant Affirmative Action Officer and the Superintendent, Mr. Sanchez emerged as the most qualified candidate to lead CHS.

Mr. Sanchez was appointed and approved by the BOE as the next Principal of Columbia High School on Monday, June 22. Mr. Sanchez served as Interim Principal of Mountain Lakes High School, one of the highest performing high schools in the State, for two years, following his service as district-wide Director of Curriculum for more than seven years and Supervisor of Social Studies for more than three years. Mr. Sanchez also spent nearly ten years as a teacher then Supervisor in neighboring and diverse, Springfield School District. Mr. Sanchez’s time in these districts brings both academic excellence and cultural competence.

It is our hope that the SOMSD community will welcome Mr. Sanchez as CHS and the District navigate not only the immediate course we face during the COVID-19 pandemic, but also the long-term, as we implement the Intentional Integration Initiative at all levels and the expansive facilities plan. Mr. Sanchez is set to assume his role on July 1.

SOMSD 2020 Virtual Arts Festival

SOMSD Community,

Although we were not able to gather together this year for the many spring concerts, exhibitions and shows, the South Orange Maplewood School District's Fine & Performing Arts Department was dedicated to providing an annual venue for the various forms of visual and performing arts programs that exist in our schools.

It was important for us to share uplifting creative works with the wonderful community we serve! We hope that you enjoy the works provided by some of our young artists under the guidance of our very talented and committed K-12 staff of arts educators.

Please explore the various elementary, middle and high school links on our district website:


James A Manno, Supervisor of the Fine & Performing Arts

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SOMSD is Now a Member of the Library Consortium, MackinVIA

The South Orange & Maplewood School District is now a member of the Connected Library Consortium. This membership allows us access to a collection of e-books and audiobooks for K-5, 6-8 and 9-12 that is housed in MackinVIA. We joined the CLC through a collaborative effort between the SOMSD school libraries and the District.

Our membership will increase our schools' access to e-books and audiobooks; while also supporting summer reading and beyond. Teachers and students across the district will now have access thru our district Google accounts to hundreds of e-books and audiobooks. The books are part of the library collection, but each student can use the collection by logging into Google with their email and password at

As we move into the summer months, we believe this resource will be invaluable in supporting the summer reading lists.nnFor more information on how to access this digital resource visit:

2020 SOMSD Summer Reading Lists are now available!

These lists of summer reading suggestions were compiled by your librarians from the South Orange and Maplewood Schools and the public libraries, and are available online through the SOMSD website and the public library sites. Physical copies of these books will be available soon at the public libraries & your local bookstores. Many titles from the lists are available as eBooks and/or eAudiobooks and can be accessed by clicking on the links below each book with your town’s library card. The online collections will continue to expand over the summer, so please check back often.

Click here to access:

SOMSD USDA Summer Food Support Program to Begin on June 29

Summer Food Support Programs & Information

Programa e Información de Apoyo Alimenticio de Verano

Pwogram Sipò ak Enfòmasyon Pou Manje Pandan Ete

South Orange & Maplewood School District in partnership with the Township of Maplewood, the Parenting Center, and its partners are providing various options for food support over the summer months.

The District's summer breakfast and lunch are provided through the USDA Summer Meals Program in coordination between Township of Irvington and Township of Maplewood. We will provide free, breakfast and lunch Grab 'n' Go meals for kids starting on June 29 through August 21, M - F, 9 am - 11 am at Maplecrest Park, between Essex Road and Boyden Parkway.

SOMSD additional pantry and food support information can be found on the district website:

Additional Information & Resources for the Community

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