MAPLEWOOD, NJ — Superintendent Dr. Ronald Taylor sent an email this afternoon to the South Orange Maplewood School District Community outlining the next steps of the District’s Intentional Integration Initiative (III).

“The District’s Intentional Integration plan was Board approved in June 2020 and addressed the usage of an algorithm to be applied to the Kindergarteners who will be joining our District in September of 2021, with a plan to monitor this pilot and adjust if necessary (as future classes enter our District),” said Taylor's email.

The decision was made last year to untie the start of the III from the completeness of the construction which is currently ongoing with the goal of each elementary school to be K-5. “An important update that was also previously discussed and recently emphasized was that Marshall and Jefferson cannot become independent K-5 spaces until the construction of those buildings is completed... Therefore, the schools will continue to function as a K-2 and a 3-5 school respectively.  In addition, the classrooms in our District that currently house our kindergartners will remain the same for next year (unless there is a significant change in the enrollment expected).”

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To achieve the intentional integration, SOMSD will be using the methodology of "a modified Berkeley Approach" the update stated, “which includes the development of an algorithm that creates micro-neighborhoods and utilizes key variables:

  • Parental education level;
  • Parental income;
  • Race;
  • Sibling Preference; and,
  • Proximity

The District is working with Alves Group to develop the algorithm and an update will be shared during the April 19th Board meeting. Families of incoming Kindergarteners will receive their child(ren)’s school placement letters by the end of June.”

Taylor acknowledged the many years the initiative has been in the planning stages. “We thank the many stakeholders who have been a part of this process and thank our community for their patience and support as the District seeks to create a more equitable, diverse, and balanced educational environment for our students that will impact generations to come.”

The district has developed an updated SOMSD III microsite to provide updates, information, and answers to frequent questions. A further update is on the agenda of the April 19 Board of Education meeting.



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