SOMSD School Re-districting webinar with Dr. Taylor

Updates from our Webinar with Superintendent, Dr. Taylor for more info on our school district re-zoning which will launch in September 2021 with the incoming Kindergarten class.

SOMSD III Webinar with Dr. Taylor Transcript 

June 29, 2021, 8-9pm

Susie (00:03):

Okay. And I’ll let you share your screen. And if you have questions, everyone who’s participating, as Dr. Taylor presents, feel free to put it in the chat room and we will address them at the end.

Dr. Taylor (00:23):

All right. Just testing my volume. You can hear me? Alright, thank you. Thank you for organizing this and sending me this invite. And thanks to my mother-in-law for being here with me. That is a name close to my heart and I’m going to see my mother-in-law, actually Thursday, down in Pembroke Pines, Florida. So thank you all so much again for this opportunity. And Emily who was on, I think our last presentation, about an hour or so ago, feel free to do all the other household stuff you want to do. I don’t want to bore you too much, but we had a great event. As Susie shared, we have a micro-site on our website, it has everything that we’ve done literally from January of 2020 to where we are now.

Dr. Taylor (01:17):

So feel free to go to that website. And you can find just about any answer to every question that you may have. So we’re going to just do a really brief presentation, but I think it covers some key points around this journey that we’ve been on for intentional integration. We’re going to talk about the actual project and how it is associated with some construction that we just broke ground on this week. We want to talk about the methodology and the framework and how we came to select this particular design. We’re going to talk about the algorithm and the placement criteria and have some time for Q&A after that.

Dr. Taylor (01:55):

So I joined the district in July of 2019 and you know, part of my onboarding, it was of course in my interview process with the board of education and in lots and lots of conversations around really key initiatives, one was the integration of our elementary grades. It was also called desegregation, right, which has kind of a negative connotation, of our elementary grades and also a major construction initiative to improve for $167 million. So on top of all that, just getting to know the district as a new superintendent here in South Orange-Maplewood. So we started off in January with a level setting event. And in January, we had over a thousand folks come out to Columbia High School auditorium, and we didn’t just speak to folks from a district perspective around this topic. We held a symposium. We invited some professors and folks who are really leaders in this area to give the history of integration in our country, to get the legal perspective of integration, and a whole just wealth of information, and also to have a Q&A with  that group of folks who gave of their time.

Dr. Taylor (03:10):

And you can see here that we have had many other follow-up conversations, and we used these conversations to kind of feed the work that we were doing. So you know, this was one of our highest priorities, of course. And construction is a big deal. For those who may not know, in our school district currently about 25% of our students already go to school outside of their neighborhood predetermined zone because of overcrowding. And so our district is, as I said, planned construction to expand our buildings and also to make our buildings more modernized and safer. And one thing that I was really concerned about… in my previous school district as superintendent, I did a  serious renovation project of about $70 million. And I saw how… the word that I keep using is… is spontaneous, right? I don’t want to use a negative word like unreliable because sometimes construction can be unreliable.

Dr. Taylor (04:15):

Anyone who’s ever renovated a house knows that, and I didn’t want to connect our super important integration work with construction work that could be derailed by things outside of our control. So that was one of the first things that we recommended to our board of education, to kind of, the word that I use is untethered, right? To untether construction from integration. And also you may or may not know, that even though the Board of Education and our Board of School Estimate, which is township folks who partnered with the Board, gave that approval, there are still so many layers of approvals for construction of schools. It has to go to the state level for review, then come back to the local level for the architectural, you know, approvals, then back to the state level for what they call a code review. I mean, it just takes months and months and months.

Dr. Taylor (05:11):

And so then we experienced COVID… so you can imagine, what happened to that timeline. So what I’m sharing with you now is a breakdown of both racial and social economic percentages of our elementary school populations. So on the left-hand side of your screen here, we have all of our elementary schools. I’m sure you’re familiar with them. Clinton, Jefferson, Marshall, Seth Boyden, South Mountain and Tuscan. The bottom of your grid here shows the district percentages. And the top of your grid shows the racial demographics per that little acronym there, right? And, and the M stands for multi-racial in case you’re not aware that that is a distinct description, a self-identified description in our student information system. And of course the percentages, they speak for themselves. And so we want to just highlight, we shared this at a presentation in January – February of 2020, and you can hear the gasp in the room, right?

Dr. Taylor (06:19):

Because folks are really concentrated on their own school, their own kids and their own families and their own PTAs and not aware of some of the differences in the demographics across our community. And we had to say, we had to bring words to say, our elementary schools are segregated, right, by socioeconomic status. And by the demographics within, they’re not all different, but there are some very, very distinct differences that you see very obviously, right? And so, you know, free and reduced lunch status was used to identify socioeconomic status for, you know, this chart, right? And so you can see, even if you take out the obvious anomalies, there’s still a huge difference, you know, 7, 8, 9, 10% difference is a big difference when you’re looking at demographics of schools. Same for the breakdown of white students versus black students in our elementary schools, versus what the district average on the bottom.

Dr. Taylor (07:21):

Now remember this is circa 2019-2020 school year. And so we began to do research, right? We were visiting other school districts in other parts of the country. We were researching to make sure that we were making good decisions for our community. And one thing that we wanted to share with our parents and our community at large is that when students go to schools that are integrated and diverse, both racially and socioeconomically, it benefits them. It doesn’t just benefit the poor students. It doesn’t just benefit the wealthy students. It doesn’t just benefit the black students, white students, Asian students, Hispanic students, it benefits students. And so here’s some recent scholarly work that was done by the Century Foundation. And, you know, you see on the left-hand side of the screen, there are some bullets about why and how this approach benefits students, students who attend diverse schools, classrooms that are diverse, they have reduced anxiety, right?

Dr. Taylor (08:32):

They are less likely to have racial biases. They have enhanced student leadership skills. They can connect with people. It helps schools and districts to reduce the achievement gaps between students in different demographics, right? You have higher outcomes on standardized test scores. And again, we know that standardized test scores are not the end all be all, right? There’s some definite implicit biases to test scores, but they are a part of the world that we deal with in education. And so that’s an outcome that we have to also take into consideration. More impact on students… that they are more likely to enroll in college. They’re less likely to drop out. They have improved intellectual self-confidence. I will call this  intellectual stamina, right? They work harder. They believe in themselves. They’re willing to get over the hump before giving up on their academic pursuit.

Dr. Taylor (09:31):

And so we know, and again, this is giving you… just walking you through our journey. We knew that this topic brings anxiety… any type of school change. Any time a parent thinks that their student’s paradigm’s gonna shift, right. They feel the anxiety. So we want to make sure that we acknowledge that. And through digital surveys and conversations and quick Q and A, we were able to document the top concerns of our families. And so families were very concerned about having students in the same grade span, K-5 in different schools, obvious reasons, right? You don’t want to have to leave your house and go to different places. You don’t want to go to different back to school nights. You don’t want to have to learn the culture of two different schools if you don’t have to. You want your kids to feel supported together.

Dr. Taylor (10:31):

Right? So, obvious concern, there are concerns around transportation just the cost to the district and, and having students on buses unnecessarily, right. To reach our goals. There were, of course, concerns around students who had special needs to make sure that we’re remembering their programming and not having them as an afterthought in this work. There were concerns about the aftercare consistency, right? And that all of our elementary schools have the same aftercare design. So there were concerns that, “If I already have… if I need aftercare and that school doesn’t have it, what are you going to do to help my family?” There were also concerns about the pacing of this work, right. Are we going to try and take a fourth grader who’s been in the school for years and move them to a different school in the middle of their elementary school lifetime, or are we trying to upset the applecart for so many kids who have relationships with their principals, relationships with their guidance counselors, relationships with their teaching staff, and last but not least, how do you monitor the success?

Dr. Taylor (11:42):

How do you annually check in and “dipstick” as one of my mentors would say, to make sure that we’re hitting our goals and watching what we’re doing. And so those were the really big, big, big rocks that were concerning our families. And so our framework, right, we approached the board several times, several conversations around building our framework to make sure that we were going in the right direction. Right. And so our framework, it’s starting with a pilot and this pilot is what we’re here to talk about. It starts in September… that it is a pace, it’s a systemic pace of implementation. It’s not an all at once shift for all of the kindergarten, sorry, for all of the elementary students. So it only starts with this group of kindergarteners in September–year one. And this will… we knew that this would address probably the biggest concern of our parent body.

Dr. Taylor (12:45):

And that’s the shifting of students from a school that they were comfortable in to one that they didn’t know. And then after reviewing this first year, we would make maybe tweaks or, you know, add in best practices and things that we learned this year for the following kindergarteners in 2022. And also the rising sixth graders who are exiting elementary schools in 2022, that’s our far reaching goal. And so how are we doing this? Again, we did a lot of research. We visited different places and after you know, a really detailed, deep dive and review, the Berkeley approach, through their algorithm design, was seen as the one that fit our needs best, right. Berkeley has been using this algorithm for decades and the algorithm really utilizes census data. And that’s really important because the census data through the block group, which is one of the smallest categories within the census and using the parental education, parental income and race that is self identify within the census.

Dr. Taylor (13:58):

And we think that that has a really high potential for our success. We’ll talk a little bit more about that. And it also implements well with with IEP needs and 504s and English language learners… specialized groups is a nice fit with the Berkeley approach. And we’ll talk a little bit more about that. So this is right from the Berkeley website, right? It talks about how they compute using their algorithm. It talks about the weighting of those different variables. And again, I really geek out when it gets to this algorithm stuff. But they use it basically to create small micro neighborhoods within the larger community based on those variables.

Dr. Taylor (14:47):

So we took the Berkeley algorithm approach, but we also customized it to the concerns that we spoke about earlier, right? So we’re not just using it as a dry mathematical equation based on the census. We’re also weighing the proximity, right, because our district is designed so that parents many times live within a two mile radius of multiple schools. So while they may have been originally zoned years ago for a particular school, we can look at proximity as a way for us to avoid unnecessary transportation costs. Additionally, adding in sibling preference, we know that’s a big concern of families that we spoke about previously, that really helps to make this apparent from the plan that’s also, could you kind of be transformative? So middle school, we’ll pass this really quickly, but we wanted to just share with you again, that our middle schools demographics are much more similar to each other than our elementary schools and there are still differences, but the differences aren’t as stark and broad.

Dr. Taylor (16:04):

And so when you look at these two charts on the left hand side, you’ll see Maplewood Middle School, South Orange Middle School, you’ll see the demographics here and whether they are… whether they be racial demographics or free and reduced lunch, and also comparing that to the district’s overall numbers. And you’re looking at the district middle schoos,l the two district middle schools and comparing the demographics to the district at large, right? And so in looking at some of this information, you can see here on the bottom where the percentages are between Maplewood Middle and South Orange Middle. There are differences, of course they’re not identical, but there aren’t significant gaps here. And looking at, you know, there’s a 10% difference in the free and reduced lunch category. You know, there’s a 7% difference between the students between the two schools when you’re looking at the enrollment of black students.

Dr. Taylor (17:02):

So again, we’re going to be looking at that, you know, throughout next year to determine an approach to bring more equity to our middle school, rising sixth graders. So this is a very quick summary. I’m sorry if I’m rambling on a little too long, I get really passionate about, about this work and the impact it is going to have on our community. So here’s just some quick highlights. We talked about construction, we talked about separating construction from the intentional integration initiative. We talked about Berkeley. We talked about what makes the Berkeley model, right? And all those different pieces… education and parental income, race, and sibling preference in proximity that we added to the Berkeley piece. And we also talked about pacing and starting with this pilot so that we can make sure that we’re being thoughtful moving forward. And in year two, will hopefully be the next group of kindergarteners and the sixth graders.

Dr. Taylor (17:58):

And I know that some in our community are excited and they want to speed this up even faster, but we’re committed to being thoughtful in this work. So here’s just a diagram, kind of a work plan. And beginning in February, this is pre COVID, right? Pre COVID. We had, you know, strategic community outreach. We had all of our lists of town hall meetings and webinars and all those things. And the board voted in June approving the model that you just saw. We’ve had ongoing staff development, equity, and restorative practices and cultural competencies prior to my arrival. And through last year, this year, a lot of our professional development, as you can imagine, has been geared towards effective connections through virtual learning. And here in January, 2021, our kindergarten registration begins. And we also are still pushing with our facilities plan, that it’s going along, it’s untethered, but it’s still moving forward.

Dr. Taylor (19:00):

And then we go to February of this year, kindergarten registration was continuing. Our kindergarten placement letters went out on Friday. Parents were informed of the school that they were being assigned to. Our facilities upgrades and construction work has now broken ground with, a lot of you know, backed up approvals from our state side because of COVID. Many of our state offices were virtual. And so the process of approving construction really slowed down, but, you know, thankfully four of our schools are breaking ground. We broke ground in the last two days. And here in September of this year, our kindergarteners will be entering and they’ll be the ones who are bringing integration and diversity and equity to our elementary schools. And so here’s the latest, the board and the community had a presentation. We brought in our consultants to present on our algorithm.

Dr. Taylor (20:05):

We’re so fortunate to have the Alves Group. The Alves Group is probably the most experienced in this work in the country, right. They did the work in Cambridge, Mass. It did all the work in Boston probably 40 years ago. Now they did work in Seattle and a lot of their work has been the basis for work done across the country. And so we’re very fortunate. They, and they have been very good to us. We’ve been working strongly with them. And so they came to our board meeting virtually, and they explained to the board the different choices that the board had to make regarding the variance level, right. How, how much plus or minus can we vary from our targeted goal? It’s not going to be perfect, right? So you have to make allowances. If you have a zero variance, we’ll all be pulling our hair out because there’s always going to be a little bit of an exception there based on specificity with IEPs and ESL and all those types of things.

Dr. Taylor (21:08):

And so, they created a simulation of placement using the kindergartners who were with us last year and they took them and they put them into the algorithm and it showed the board how that would look. And the board voted unanimously to move forward with the 5% variance allowance either plus or minus the socioeconomic status target for that school. And I know this kind of gets into kind of the egghead stuff that I love, but it just allows us to make this a workable plan. The board also had to work with our administration to update several policies, transportation policies, transfer policies, things that were antiquated and based on previous models. And of course we had to rebid our transportation routes. So because this, this is going to probably have a significant impact on our transportation, so that, that all of our routes that are bid out to other entities, we have rebid them customizing for this algorithm.

Dr. Taylor (22:17):

Also since the board’s approval, we’ve been given the Alves Group our incoming kindergarten and rising preschool, right? Because not every kindergartener is in our preschool program. Some of them are coming from different places, but we have to, you know, gather all of that student information and give it to the Alves Group after scrubbing it to make determinations around. Are there siblings in the school district? Is a student in need of special services or something like that. Right. And then after all that processing, we had many, many meetings with the Alves Group, looking at their data, looking at the outcomes, looking at the unintended consequences. And then we finally felt comfortable sending out those notifications on Friday. We had our Q and A session with about 98 or so kindergarten parents who want to participate in that, I believe.

Dr. Taylor (23:17):

We sent out 481 placement letters on Friday. And we also just released to all those parents, our principal introductions, right. Because some of our parents, they don’t know the principals they are going to be engaging with. And so we want to make sure that that was done. And next we’ll be planning orientations and teacher introductions, and maybe even school visits with our PTAs leading those visits because we have to remember that we’re having construction. So the buildings aren’t really available for visits for the majority of the summer. 

So this is kind of the raw data. This is just for those who are interested in going down the rabbit hole of how the algorithm works, how it’s designed, is it fair and all those types of things, right? So we started with this live. I won’t re-explain it to you folks.

Dr. Taylor (24:10):

Got it. But I don’t, I don’t like, I don’t expect you to read this chart. So I wanted to show you this full chart before we break it down into chunks, right? This is the outcome of the algorithm. From top to bottom, what you see here is the 5% variance, and you see the schools on the side there and you see percentages and all that stuff. So I’ll break this down for you just quickly. When I say 5% variance, what the algorithm did is it looked to make sure that every schools, kindergarten classes entering has a similar percentage of students who qualify as low income, medium income, or high income based on their census data. And so if you’re breaking that down for our district, here is the percentage that eats in a perfect world. If you had zero variance, and that’s why zeros here, if you had a zero variance and every school’s kindergarten class was exactly the same, reflecting our district, this is how it, but we know that that’s not perfect.

Dr. Taylor (25:21):

So to make this a workable plan, the Board allows for 5% there, 5% under this ideal situation in 5% over this ideal situation, which is why I’m assuming that this is 5% lower, this is 5%, 5% lower than 5% higher, so on and so forth. So that’s the variance, right? So we’re looking at the outcome highlighted, columns are low socioeconomic percentage based on the census data, medium socioeconomic status, and high socioeconomic status. And each of these is showing that the percentage is falling within the 5% when it’s spoken about. Right. And so I’ll leave it there, but I just wanted to make sure that you were aware of the work that we’re doing… how each school is represented. So here’s an example of the map, right? 

Dr. Taylor (26:34):

And this is an example of the Tuscan lot. And so this Key on the bottom, it shows why the student was placed here. If the student had a blue dot, that means that they are English language learners. Most of our English learners, our English language learner programs are Clinton. That’s why for Tuscan, you don’t see any. The green shows students who were placed here because of a sibling preference, their older sibling attends Tuscan and will attend Tuscan while they’re there. That’s an important definition of sibling preference. It doesn’t mean that your sibling went there and was now going to middle school. They have to be in the building at the same time. The red marks special education and the black dot represents students who are placed in, based on the algorithm. We’re not going to show you all these maps, but they’ll all be available.

Dr. Taylor (27:33):

And they’re also all changing, right? Because students are not done being placed in schools. We get kids who try to register and families would come to register through the summer and even sometimes into the fall. So we’ll be updating as we continue. And so here is the micro site. Here’s our integration info email address, where we’re capturing all of the different family requests. You can imagine. There are some families I spoke to about sibling preference. There are some families who weren’t caught in the sibling preference review because they might have a different address now, right? They didn’t update their older child’s address when they moved. So they couldn’t be identified as siblings. They might have a different parent designation now than they did for their older child. So those types of little anomalies. And of course we’re being aggressive and telling the parents to let us know now. And I think out of almost 500 parents who received letters we’ve gotten about, you know, 20 or 30 different requests. Most of them are just asking for exceptions, right? Oh, I live closer to this school, or I bought this house to go to that school. And, you know, we’re going to give thoughtful responses to each of those. So I think that is it. And we can take some questions.

Susie (29:05):

Thank you again, Dr. Taylor for reprising that long presentation. Does anyone have any questions… let’s see here? I don’t think we have any questions in the chat. 

Bonnie (29:32):

That was a very thorough presentation. It’s my second time hearing it and the second time was more thorough than it was, I don’t know, a week or two ago. And I really appreciate your thoughtfulness in being thorough through everything. 

Dr. Taylor (29:48):

Well you know, there’s a lot of folks who contribute to this. So it’s a team effort when I say that we’re scrubbing this stuff where we’re really trying to make it as clean as possible to give everyone a stress free summer, right?

Susie (30:03):

Yes. We do have some questions coming in. One is, will there be aftercare available in September?

Dr. Taylor (30:10):

Yes. And so the reopening task force that we formed probably more than a hundred professionals on there and our health departments and everything, we’re planning for as normal a reopening as possible with everything that we have reported. Could the Delta variant change that? Of course, right. You know, we can’t anticipate nine weeks from now, we all know, but our plan is to have everything that we had and more right. We don’t want to go back to the same instructional model that we had pre-Covid. We learned a lot of great things. So we want to have improvements. We want to still have our aftercare, you know, keep up, keep back to the bell, but that’s not…

Bonnie (30:55):

After the bell?

Dr. Taylor (31:05):

Beyond the bell.

All (31:05):

Beyond the bell!!

Susie (31:05):

Okay. Q: Just to confirm, if you opt out of kindergarten placement for September 2021, you are not guaranteed the same placement if you return in fall of 2022 for first grade?

Dr. Taylor (31:18):

That’s true. It’s just a space issue. I mean, you know, when we move forward, the number of seats may not be available. So we’ll do our best. Right. And we were used to having conversations around the algorithm, being applied to first graders who just joined us in this type of circumstance. It just moves. Right. How do you place them as well? So, yeah, there’ll be some work going towards that, but we can’t guarantee it now.

Susie (31:48):

Okay. And you did mention this quickly, and for those of you who missed it, you will be sharing on the microsite, the different algorithm and charts per elementary school, the different pin dots. And I will just reiterate what you said that children or families register their kindergartners well into the school year. I know that particularly for the Seth Boyden zone, that there’s a large percentage that registers later. So just anticipate that it will be dynamic charts. Right. Okay. Q: We have every intention of full day kindergarten barring anything nutty.

Dr. Taylor (32:28):


Susie (32:32):

We do have full day kindergarten here. So yeah.

Bonnie (32:35):

I have a question. If someone is in district and they’re placed, and then they move within district, will they get to stay at the same elementary school now that we’re shuffling everyone anyway?

Dr. Taylor (32:48):

More than, more than likely, right? Like, I mean, we don’t want to make things more confusing, right. So the placements are the placements, unless there is an appeal and we’re reviewing the appeals and more than likely the majority of the appeals, just being forthright, would be not approved. Right. Because if you’re, unless you’re appeal is a mistake that we made. Right. And so for those folks who may move internally, or buy a house across town, and they put forward a request for transfer because of that, we can consider it. Right. But the timing would be so tight on it. It probably wouldn’t be a this school year decision, depending on when we’re notified.

Bonnie (33:32):

Okay. So if someone’s child is a kindergartener and they get into Tuscan, and then let’s say they move to the Montrose section in South Orange, but they want their child to remain at Tuscan. That might be an option because they were placed there to begin with.

Dr. Taylor (33:48):

Yeah. That would be the default. Right. The only, the only consideration for change would be if they’re requesting that one would be re-considered one.

Bonnie (33:56):


Susie (33:58):

Okay. Q: And start and end times for each school are on the website?

Dr. Taylor (34:01):


Susie (34:01):

Not on the microsite, but on the general SOMSD site. Right?

Dr. Taylor (34:08):

Right. If you click on each school, when you go to each school’s website, I think next break right there is the start.

Susie (34:15):

Right. Okay. Sorry, I’m peering onto my screen here. Q: If we aren’t able to register until August, how does that affect our placement? That’s the first question. So we have several people who are moving here, for example, who are under contract for a house, but aren’t closing until August. They can’t register until then.

Dr. Taylor (34:35):

Yeah. So I’ve seen that and there were some weird things that were happening before my arrival with that. Right. People were putting down like the deposits in the school district. We’re looking at that. We’re reviewing that practice obviously. Right. But no matter when you come in, you will be taken care of. Right. So what we’re establishing now with our consultant is like a five day turnaround, right? So we’re doing buckets of kids. So you might not get your placement that day that you registered, but within a week, we should be able to inform you of that. And you could imagine that for some folks, they might not be happy with what they get and they want to talk more about that. So we’re figuring in that space too.

Susie (35:22):

And I’ll just add Dr. Taylor, you know, given that I’ve been part of this process since, before your arrival. When I was on the Board, one of the big impetuses for the construction, as well as the integration project, was the uncertainty around your assignment because of overcrowding in the schools. So this is meant to actually alleviate some of that stress and make it not more predictable, but not less predictable than it was before. So I don’t know if that helps. We have another question about once a kindergartener is placed. Do they stay at that school through fifth grade? Yes. Correct?

Dr. Taylor (36:05):

Yes. Yes. So the only shift would be, I’m trying to think… it’s probably fits a small possibility, right. But let’s say the student becomes identified in some type of a special ed care category in that program at a different school. It will be such a small, but 99 out of a 100. Probably more than that. Yeah.

Bonnie (36:31):

Q: For the 2021-2022 kindergartner’s sibling, will they be likely to attend the school the current kindergartner is placed at.

Dr. Taylor (36:40):

Very likely yes.

Bonnie (36:42):

Yes. Sibling preference. Okay.

Susie (36:43):

And you had addressed in the previous call, and I’ve seen online people have mentioned, that some people had not been assigned to the school where their sibling is, and you’re asking everyone as soon as possible to email that email address that I put in in order to get that addressed. (

Dr. Taylor (37:01):

Exactly. Yeah. That’s it.

Bonnie (37:05):

One person said “this guy rocks, thank you.” Cheers to you. We have another question: Do all the schools have the same resources and budget?

Dr. Taylor (37:15):

So it’s usually a per pupil allocation. Right. And what you, the schools are not the same size, right? So you might have one school that has 500, on that has 600. And also they don’t have the same Title One kids and things like that. There are different… the budgeting is based on a per pupil allocation and it’s fair across the board, but it might not be identical if you know what I mean. Right. I’ll give you an example of one, one school might have a huge library that had water damage and replace all their books. It might have a higher library budget that year. Right. But, but it’s pretty consistent.

Susie (37:55):

And I will just add, again, a little bit of color commentary to that… in the past what’s happened because of the skewed allocation of students, we have had a disproportionate resource allocation outside of the school budget. So everyone knows that a lot of the extracurricular budgeting comes from parents and because the demographics of the schools have been so disproportionate one school has had, you know, one school would maybe have far fewer resources outside of the district budget than another school. And so for example, some teachers would get iPads from their PTAs and other school’s wouldn’t, some schools would have more books in the library and other schools wouldn’t, and this is in part a plan to address all of those inequities that then feed into student performance.

Susie (38:54):

All right. Let’s see if there are any other questions. I think that’s it. If anyone else has questions, of course, send them onto that integration email address, again, it’s on the website for the school district. If you didn’t catch it in the chat, or if you didn’t catch it in the presentation, we will be posting this presentation. So I just want to say one more thing that just keeps popping into my head for those of you who don’t know some of the history of this. I just want to point out that it is not just our moral imperative to do this. This is not because this is like the right thing to do, although it is absolutely the right thing to do. And there are many studies to show the benefits of integration. It is also a constitutional mandate by the state of New Jersey, that every school is representative of the district as a whole. And we also felt as a Board of Ed, that this is what the district and these towns embrace as our values. And we need to live that out. So this has been a very long time coming. And while change is uncomfortable for everyone, we really appreciate Dr. Taylor stepping in to usher us into this process. And we’re sure there will be many, many bumps in the road. Okay. Q: What is the timeline for the integration plan to be fully integrated? What year?

Susie (40:22):

Oh, you’re muted. Oh, he can’t hear, but so Raman, I would say to check the microsite website, I’m certain that that’s on the FAQ’s and if it is not, I can answer that in part, it is related to the construction timeline. So that is a bit TBD because that we just broke ground as Dr. Taylor said on four schools. And as we all know with construction and renovation and things like that, there are surprises along the way. So the way that we’ll all be integrated is once all the elementary schools have the space that is required for all of the schools to become K through five, and then the integration project will be fully rolled out. Is that right? Dr. Taylor? You can nod since we can’t… Okay. 

Bonnie: And one more last question. How does pre-K fit into this plan if at all, do you know the answer to that?

Susie (41:24):

I will say sort of separate from that because pre-K is not in the elementary schools, it’s in Montrose as well as the other programs that are part of the pre-K full, full the, well, yes, the universal pre-K, which we’re moving toward, if not, already there. I understand from Dr. Taylor… I had texted him this question… at this point, this for 2021-2022, there haven’t been any people turned away for the pre-K program. There has not been anyone put on a waiting list, which is incredible. Thanks to many grants that have been won by the school district. So that’s terrific news. If you want a spot in the district pre-K program, then you should be able to get one, which is great, but that is not part of it. Because it’s not in the K through five buildings. All right. Thank you everyone. Thank you, Dr. Taylor, this has really been very informative. We’re really appreciative of your time. And if any of you have other questions, you can direct them to us or to the district. Thank you. Have a nice day. Cool. Hope everyone gets power back soon.

Bonnie (42:41):

Good night!

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