Archive for the 'Education' Category

West Orange Pre-School Fair

PreschoolWest Orange Pre-School Fair on 1/21 at 6:30-8 pm at the West Orange Public Library, 46 Mt. Pleasant Avenue. Come learn about preschool and day-care options in our town! Free and open to the public! We will have multiple preschools and day-cares there to speak with you about different options. For more information call Playhouse Preschool @ 973-736-9451

PILOTs – Board of Ed wants (deserves) a share

somsd-logo-b-rAs part of the 2015/16 school district budget process, South Orange-Maplewood Board of Education members discussed requesting that the local municipal governments of South Orange and Maplewood make contributions from housing development PILOTs.

Towns negotiate PILOTs (payments in lieu of taxes) with developers to encourage development. Often after 5, 10 or 20 years, the PILOTs ramp to a full property tax rate.  Municipalities receive annual payments in such arrangements, but school districts don’t.

Members of the Board of Ed say that increasing enrollment from the developments puts pressure on expenses, particularly staffing, and makes it difficult to budget under the state-mandated 2% cap.

Board member, Beth Daugherty said that she wanted the district administration to prepare a report that shows the number of students per residential development in South Orange and Maplewood and whether those properties are paying a PILOT vs. being on the tax rolls. Many Board members have stated that they really have to look at all potential revenue sources and not just keep cutting expenses to balance their budgets.

NED show in West Orange


The NED show has hit West Orange. There’s a program/show stressing character in education that made its way into the Pleasantdale school in West Orange.

It’s a strange coincidence for me as a grammar school buddy or two of mine and I had a NED club which celebrated doing things differently.

Newark schools – The Zuckerberg donation




Money Can’t buy Reform

Five years after Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg’s pledge of $100m went to the Newark School system, reforms are sluggish.  Zuckerberg’s incentive donation has already been dispersed and has the Newark School District seen any sustainable positive change?

“Now Newark has fifty new principals, four new public high schools, a new teachers’ contract that ties pay to performance, and an agreement by most charter schools to serve their share of the neediest students. But residents only recently learned that the overhaul would require thousands of students to move to other schools, and a thousand teachers and more than eight hundred support staff to be laid off within three years. In mid-April, seventy-seven members of the clergy signed a letter to Christie requesting a moratorium on the plan, citing “venomous” public anger and “the moral imperative” that people have power over their own destiny”.  Booker, now a U.S. senator still publicly thinks the situation could have a positive outcome.

In my opinion, the media should keep flood lights on the subject of the Newark School systems.  Cory Booker and Chris Christie, who seemed to be on the same page on this issue obviously failed to appoint the right people to push this thru and coordinate with the public properly.  Without extreme tenacity on the part of the next mayor, Ras Baraka, I tend to believe that the vested interests will keep the Newark School systems in disrepair for their own financial gain.

Please read the link for a details.

School Rankings


Many area High Schools rated in top tenth of NJ’s high schools – from a US News  & World Report survey out of 395 public high schools

Columbia moves up again from 48 to 36.

Chatham 13,

Millburn 15,

Summit 18,

Westfield 22,

Madison 27,

Livingston 29,

New Providence 34,

Columbia (S. Orange & Maplewood) 36

Governor Livingston (Berkeley Hts) 37

The SOMSD Music Program gets national recognition for excellence


The South Orange – Maplewood School District (SOMSD) has been honored for having a superb music education program with a BCME by the NAMM Foundation.  A BCME is a Best Communities for Music Education designation.   This is our district’s second time receiving the honor.

Kudos to Anthony Mazzocchi, the district’s Director of Fine and Performing Arts.


Columbia High School rising





Columbia High School, the home of Maplewood’s and South Orange’s students continues to rise up the ranks of New Jersey’s High Schools.  It is up to #47 from #75 in 2010 and #89 in 2008 out of a total of 328 schools.

This gain comes despite the fact that  under Governor Chris Christie, the South Orange-Maplewood school district has seen its share of school aid drop 37.7 percent.

See the link for full list.