Friday, January 11, 2013


Superintendent Brian Osborne offered his State of the District address this week, stating the district is heading in the "right direction," but also has more work to do.

Read it below and HERE.


The South Orange Maplewood School District is on a journey, becoming a school 
system that truly prepares all students for the future they will inherit.  We have been strategic 
about continuous improvement, enhancing student learning, strengthening teaching, 
engaging parents as partners, operating more efficiently, and doing more with less.  SOMSD 
schools are filled with committed, competent, and caring leaders, educators, and support 
staff who have been making a profound and measurable difference for our students.  

Thanks to a talented staff and strategic Board of Education leadership, the evidence 
shows that our students and schools have made major strides in the past several years and 
that we are moving in the right direction.  As you will read in the following pages, we have 
narrowed the gap between performance results of our students and that of the District Factor 
Group (DFG), which consists of other districts with a similar socioeconomic status.  At the 
same time, we have narrowed the black/white achievement gap within our system, and the 
percentage of students scoring advanced proficient on standardized tests has improved as 
well.  In short, we have been raising the bar and narrowing the gap.  

We are capitalizing on the momentum that comes from this improvement and moving 
aggressively to align our curricula to the new, more rigorous and college preparatory 
Common Core State Standards, to transition to the International Baccalaureate Middle Years 
Programme in our middle schools, to enhance after-school learning and enrichment 
opportunities, and to increase rigor and access to college preparatory coursework in 
Columbia High School.

Fiscally, we have made hard choices to operate more efficiently in light of the 
economic recession and the tax stress of the two towns.  We have restructured the district 
budget to streamline operations and better resource schools, classrooms, and instruction, 
and we have pruned expenses carefully, to keep our operating budget within the 2% cap, 
even when we qualified for cap adjustments.  Because of our Board of Education’s strategic 
approach to system improvement and our fiscal judiciousness, we have reduced the year over-year tax impact while making very real progress in student learning, minimizing cuts to 
existing programs, holding the line on class size, and honoring our long-standing commitment 
to a rich array of AP classes, honors classes, arts programs, clubs, activities, and athletics. 

There is still a great deal of work in front of us and many challenges to overcome if we 
are to truly prepare each and every student for the challenges they will face after high school.   
While there is evidence of narrowing gaps among groups within our district, double digit gaps 
still exist, signaling that we still have far to go in setting high expectations for each of our 
students, and providing the support needed for each of them to meet those expectations.
In addition, we continue to face fiscal challenges.  Elementary school enrollment has 
increased more than 20% over the past 6 years.  Larger grade cohorts will move up to the 
 Larger grade cohorts will move up to the middle school next year and high school in the next few years, creating some pressing capital needs, and pushing our operating expenses beyond what is provided by the 2% cap.

Overall, our students need greater levels of preparation than the generations before 
them.  Our graduates will inherit a new reality, with automation and outsourcing causing 
significant shifts in the job market and global economy.  In fact, most of the jobs our students 
will have in the future haven’t even been created yet.  Whether they choose to attend college 
or not, all our students need high-level 21st century skills when they graduate to be able to 
succeed in any field.  Working together, we have the capacity and talent needed to prepare 
each and every one of them for this new reality.

I am truly honored to serve as your superintendent, grateful for the support the 
community gives to its public schools, and humbled by the exciting growth taking place 
across the district.  I look forward to working together to build on our successes and create a 
system that truly prepares every single student to be fully ready for college and career.  

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