MAPLEWOOD, NJ — The South Orange Maplewood Board of Education passed its 2020-21 budget last night. The unanimous vote happened despite possible changes in state aid as coronavirus continues to affect New Jersey's health and economy.
“The governor is going to give an update on that I believe within the next two weeks and so we were instructed to not make any adjustments to our budget anticipating that,” said Superintendent Dr. Ronald Taylor prior to the vote. “The state and county will be giving us guidance if our state aid is impacted by the report from the comptroller of the state,” he added.
Since the state's fiscal year has been extended, “We may not know the net effect of revenue changes until the summer,” added Paul Roth, the district’s Business Administrator.
Taylor also offered solace in the face of Gov. Phil Murphy’s order that school buildings stay closed for the remainder of the school year. While not a surprise, he said, “it nevertheless is a disappointing conclusion” to the school year.
Continued education from home, he said, requires “thinking outside the box with regards to instruction, support, and grading.” Taylor relayed that in response, new grading protocols would be used for the fourth quarter marking period. The new protocols are posted on the district’s website.
The introduction to the letter, which was sent via email to parents and teachers just hours before the BOE meeting, notes that “We understand that all students and staff members are working under challenging conditions (as are parents!). The adjustment to our grading system takes into consideration the emotional, social, and mental toll that students, staff and community are facing. It also observes the District’s Access and Equity Policy while ensuring that students are meeting learning goals.”
Changes in the protocols include only assigning a letter grade for high school students if the grade increases their overall course grade. “Otherwise, the student will receive either a “Pass” (P) or a “Course in Progress” (CIP). If the student’s letter grade is a passing grade (D- or higher) but does not improve the overall grade, then the student will receive a “Pass.” If the student does not meet the criteria for a passing grade, then the student will receive a “Course in Progress” (CIP), and they will have the opportunity to make up the work for a new grade before December 1 of this year.”
Taylor also acknowledged the loss of life the SOMSD community has faced. “Please know as a school district family, we support our community as we face our new normal.”
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