South Orange - Maplewood Superintendent Delivers State of School District

Brian Osborne Credits: David Lackey
Elizabeth Daugherty Credits: David Lackey

MAPLEWOD, NJ - District Schools Superintendent Brian Osborne delivered a State of the School District address on Wednesday evening at Columbia High School.

"We are striving toward ambitious and achievable goals and being transparent about our progress," Osborne said.  "We should be transparent, forthcoming and outright about the good, bad and ugly that is going on in our system."

Osborne outlined many successes the district has experienced over the past year, and noted that while progress is being made, there are still improvements to be made.

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“With the support of an extremely competent and dedicated staff and the commitment of engaged parents and guardians, many of our students are really excelling in the classroom as scholars, on the field as athletes, on the stage as actors and in the studios as artists and musicians.  Our track record shows that we can rise to the challenges that are before us, that we are doing better and better, that improvement is real and evidence-based.  We can channel the changes and mandates into even better learning opportunities and learning for our students and we can really truly prepare each one of our students in this wonderful and diverse community to be successful in college,” Osborne said.

Here is a portion of the report, which is available in its entirety online here: "State of the District, January 2014":

Vision: The South Orange-Maplewood School District will be the top-performing diverse suburban school district in the nation.

Our Mission: To prepare each and every student, regardless of demographic or socioeconomic background, for postsecondary educational success, and to educate all students to be responsible and productive members of the global society at large, and especially:
• caring, collaborative and ethical people
• critical thinkers and problem solvers
• effective writers and speakers
• thoughtful consumers and producers of media
• lifelong learners

Core Values: We measure success by student growth and achievement.

Every student is worthy of intellectual, social, and emotional respect Effective teaching is essential.
Quality education demands genuine appreciation of differences.
We can all learn from each other.
Parents and guardians are our partners.
Demography should not be destiny, academically or otherwise.
All students deserve the opportunity to achieve their fullest potential.

These district goals establish the ends by which the district‘s success in fulfilling its mission of educating students shall be measured from 2011-14. Each of these goals, and the underlying objectives, is important and relates to the others.

No objective shall be considered met if its achievement comes through the erosion of another objective‘s baselines.
These goals—specifically their achievement or lack thereof—shall form the primary basis for evaluation of the superintendent by the board. The board presents this document as the primary statement of priorities that shall govern the initiatives, and budget allocations in 2011-12. Each year the board will review and amend these goals by resolution, including resetting and adding milestones.

Lastly, the board wishes to emphasize that the schools of South Orange-Maplewood seek to educate the complete student, utilizing a broad and diverse curriculum that includes art, music, languages, technology, physical education and other subjects that may not be mentioned as priorities in the goals that follow. Although continuing improvement in the quality of language-arts and math instruction is an essential priority (as indicated in Goal One), it is not the board‘s intent that such improvement should occur through a de-emphasis of the arts, humanities and sciences.

The board has a responsibility to ensure that the district goals reflect community values, to establish the necessary policies to achieve the goals, and to communicate with the community about the goals and progress toward them.

The superintendent is responsible for progress toward the goals, through the management of all staff to achieve clearly stated milestones. The board shall evaluate his performance by assessing success against the milestones on an annual basis.

Each of the four district goals has four or five components:
Goal statement. Articulation of the fundamental, long-term aspirations for the schools of South Orange- Maplewood.

Objectives. Major components of the goals.
Indicators. Criteria used to evaluate progress toward the objectives. They consist of types of information, both
quantitative and qualitative, that can reasonably be used to evaluate progress. Baselines. Articulation of the current status for each indicator.

Milestones. One-year targets that serve as the primary basis for measuring the district‘s progress and the chief means among several for evaluating the superintendent‘s annual performance.

Other terms:
Rigorous. Defined by Common Core Curriculum principles as ―robust and relevant to the real world, reflecting
the knowledge and skills that our young people will need for success in college and careers.‖
Differentiated Instruction. Provision of appropriate instructional materials and approaches to facilitate student learning of same curriculum.

Goals: Articulation of the fundamental, long-term aspirations for the schools of South Orange-Maplewood.

1. Student Learning: Promote the intellectual growth of all students.

2. Professional Staff: Consistently and collaboratively lead students of diverse backgrounds and learning styles to learn at or above the appropriate grade-level standards.

3. Engagement and Outreach: Engage parents and students to be partners with staff in facilitating learning both in and out of school.

4. Resource Management: Pursue and achieve Goals 1-3 while slowing the rate of increase in operating expenditures.

Objectives: These 11 objectives are the road map that explains how the district will reach its goals. Each of the objectives has a set of specific indicators that provide a more detailed explanation of exactly what needs to be done to implement that particular objective.

1. Students will demonstrate proficiency on key benchmarks to postsecondary readiness equal to or better than peer districts (District Factor Group ―”I”).

2. Rigorous curricula, differentiated instruction and expanded learning opportunities will enable all students to thrive and fulfill their academic potential.

3. Professional development programs and activities will strengthen district faculty’s ability to contribute to measurable improvements in student achievement.

4. Recruitment and hiring will increase the quality and diversity of the professional staff.

5. A performance evaluation and compensation system will be driven by objective measures that are tied to student learning and school/district goals.

6. A staff recognition program will identify and celebrate excellent teaching.

7. Parents will receive timely information about their children, their schools and the District and be engaged in the education of their children and their schools.

8. The South Orange-Maplewood Public Schools will communicate with the School District community to foster transparency, accountability and community engagement with respect to the development and implementation of District policies.

9. A variety of communications tools will be used to regularly share with parents, students and the South Orange-Maplewood community positive information about our District, schools, staff and students, celebrating in particular the achievements of our students and staff.

10. A transparent, efficient budget that aligns with and supports the attainment of district goals and that reins in spending on budget categories that are rising at a faster rate than the cost of living.

11. Well-maintained and safe facilities that enable focused and effective teaching and learning, and that are repaired and updated in an architecturally sensitive and fiscally responsible manner.

The video of the report will be available on demand by Friday, January 17 at

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