Sunday, January 31, 2016


The Board of Education has announced plans for two Strategic Plan forums on February 9, 1 p.m. to 2 p.m., and Feb. 10, from 7:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

See more background on the process that has raised some concerns for its secretiveness and superintendent conflicts of interest HERE.

Below is a note about the forums from Superintendent John Ramos. But it does not say where they will be held.

Dear SOMSD Community,
I am very proud to share with you the Strategic Direction document created as part of our ongoing strategic planning process.  This document is the product of the ideas, hopes, and suggestions shared by more than 1,500 people who participated in our Education Summit last November, and by hundreds more in town hall and other meetings, in letters and emails, and via Lets’ Talk!   Your input served as the foundation for a 3-day intensive meeting to distill these ideas into enduring values, mission, strategic boundaries, student performance objectives, and strategies.
Working together, the SOMSD community is creating a powerful vision for how we can transform the way we educate our children, and provide each student with the tools and skills they need to succeed in a world that is still being built.
I invite you to join me and members of the Strategic Direction committee at a community forum to learn more about both the Direction itself, and the process which we engaged in to create it:

  • AFTERNOON FORUM: Tuesday, February 9, 2016, from 1:00-2:00pm
  • EVENING FORUM:  Wednesday, February 10, 2016, from 7:30-8:30pm
The Strategic Direction document is on our website, along with other information about the strategic planning process. The Board of Education is scheduled to vote on the adoption of the Strategic Direction at a special Board meeting on Tuesday, February 16, 2016.
The Strategic Direction is the first part of what will ultimately be a much longer, comprehensive plan.  Working teams will develop concrete action plans for each of the strategies set forth in this document.  The full plan will then be submitted to the Strategic Direction Committee, to ensure fidelity to the intentions of the original Direction, and to the Board of Education for approval.  The action plans will then be prioritized, incorporated into the budget, and implemented, with regular updates to the community and to the Board of Education on our progress.
I hope to see you in February, and look forward to continuing our ongoing efforts to empower today’s learners for a future that hasn’t been imagined yet, and to transform the district from something it is not now but will be for the benefit of all our students.

John J. Ramos, Sr., Ed.D.


The Township Committee earlier this month voted to move ahead with the purchase of the former Maplewood Baptist Church next to De Hart Park for $405,000, with a $20,000 down payment expected to come from the Open Space Trust Fund.

We told you about the plans weeks ago. The TC took the first step at its last meeting on Jan. 9, voting, 5-0, to approve an ordinance on first reading that would bond the funding.

See it HERE.

A final vote and public hearing will be at this coming Tuesday's TC meeting. 


Now that the snow thaw is underway, a lot of homes available for you to see.

And since it is the off week before the Super Bowl, plenty of time to head out and find your next home or just see what the market is offering.

Full list HERE.

Saturday, January 30, 2016


JMF Properties, which is overseeing the new housing/retail project at the former Maplewood Village Post Office site, began removing windows several days ago, leaving the building open for possible trespassing, vandalism and danger.

On both sides of the building, large openings remained where the windows had been, which could be a danger to youngsters if they chose to enter as an attractive nuisance. Only yellow tape was put up to keep people out, no fencing or other larger barricades

It is unclear if permits were issued for the work as none were in sight at the scene. We asked Code Enforcement Officer Robert Mittermaier earlier this week if permits had been issued and he said they had not.

He could not be reached Friday to see if that situation had changed.

Workers were on the site today finishing the windows removal and said they would be boarded up by tomorrow.


The school district issued this update in response to some concerns about a water contamination issue in South Orange. We do not usually cover news from our neighbors over there, but when it affects their schools -- which include some Maplewood students -- it is of interest.

See the notice issued below:

South Orange Maplewood School District has been made aware of the recent information regarding the South Orange water system. The District is following the guidance of the Township of South Orange Village which indicated that “the water actually delivered to consumers likely has PFOA levels below the guidance limits.” 
The news release from South Orange can be found at  Following the suggestion in the news release, any parent or staff member who remains concerned should consider using bottled water which may be sent from home.
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We will continue to monitor the situation and will respond based on the guidance from the Township.  If there are any changes, we will send a follow-up.


A day after we told you about the upset parents at Maplewood Middle School who objected to a popular math teacher being transferred to Columbia High School in the middle of the year, MMS Principal Jerrill Adams revealed her replacement.

See his letter to parents below:

Dear MMS Families,

I am excited to announce that we have found a replacement teacher for Ms. Skrivanic’s math classes. Please join me in welcoming Ms. Erin Mitchell to the Maplewood Middle School community.

Ms. Mitchell has a Bachelor’s degree in Education from Rowan University and holds highly qualified certification in middle school mathematics. She completed her student teaching experiences in the Princeton Regional and Bordentown School Districts, where she worked hard to form positive connections with her students and their families. She is passionate about teaching math and enjoys incorporating technology, manipulatives (such as algebra tiles) and math games into the curriculum. Ms. Mitchell shared that she became a teacher because she enjoys helping students build confidence in themselves and their ability to approach math in a positive and successful manner.

Ms. Mitchell spent today shadowing Ms. Skrivanic and introduced herself to your students. On Monday morning, she will assume her duties as the new teacher for all of Ms. Skirvanic’s math classes. Here is the instructional plan for Monday:

Course Title - Topic of Study
Advanced Honors: Proportional Graphs
Honors: Inequalities
College Prep: One Step Equations/Inequalities

Next week, Ms. Mitchell will provide your family with details about the next steps in curriculum, instruction, and assessment. She will also send home an update with her district email address as soon as it becomes available. Thank you for your patience and cooperation during this process.

Together We Can,
Jerrill M. Adams, MS.Ed, M.A.


From Maplewood Baseball:

Registration for the 2016 spring baseball season begins today. In person registration will be taken at The Baird in South Orange and Maplewood Town Hall in Maplewood as follows:

Saturday and Sunday, January 30 and 31, 1:00-4:00 pm
Saturday and Sunday, February 6 and 7, 1:00-4:00 pm
NEW PLAYERS must register in person. Any child who did not play in the Cal Ripken/Babe Ruth program in 2015 must register at one of the registration sessions and bring a copy of their birth certificate.

RETURNING PLAYERS have the option of online or in person registration. Online registration will be available from January 1st through February 7th for all players who participated in South Orange Maplewood Baseball in Spring 2015. To register online, click here and find the appropriate baseball program for your child. (Please Note: If this is the first time you are registering for a program on this website OR if you create a new account, you may need to wait up to 24 hours for your online account to be activated. Convenience fees apply to all online registrations. These fees are paid directly to the Internet Service Provider.)

The fee for spring baseball is $95 per child.

Members of the South Orange Maplewood Baseball Committee will be on hand at all registration sessions to answer any questions. Complete baseball program details and registration information are available at The Baird in South Orange and online at

You may download the registration form at to fill out before you arrive at registration to make the process faster.

Volunteer Coaches Needed
Last year SOM Baseball fielded 78 teams from T-Ball through Babe Ruth. Volunteers are needed to serve as head coaches, assistant coaches and team managers for all of these teams. If you are interested, please complete and return a volunteer form to the Baird ASAP. Members of our Coaching Committee will be available at all registration sessions to answer any questions you may have about volunteering. Forms are available at

Friday, January 29, 2016


In a move that will dramatically impact the composition of the Maplewood Township Committee, TC Member Marlon Brownlee has announced he will not run for re-election this year.

Brownlee, who is ending his second term at the end of 2016, could not be reached for comment Friday. But Maplewood Democratic Committee Chair Ian Grodman dropped the bombshell in a statement issued today seeking potential candidates. See it below:

           1/29/16 The Maplewood Democratic Committee requests submissions from all those interested in running with the party’s endorsement for the positions of Township Committee Member and Democratic Party District Lender.
               The seat on the Township Committee currently held by Marlon Brownlee will be up for election in November. The new three-year term will begin on January 1, 2017. Mr. Brownlee has decided NOT to seek re-election.
               The Maplewood Democratic Committee will endorse a candidate for the Township Committee seat in the June 7 Democratic Primary. Anyone interested in seeking the Democratic Committee’s endorsement should submit a resume and letter of interest to Ian Grodman, Chair, by February 29.  Interviews will be conducted in March. All submissions and inquiries should be sent to
               In addition, the Maplewood Democratic Committee seeks submissions from those interested in serving as Democratic Party District Leaders. These positions are voted for by registered Democrats in each of Maplewood’s 21 election districts in the June Primary in even numbered years. District Leaders are responsible to work on behalf of the Party promoting Democratic ideals and Democratic candidates. That involves canvassing on behalf of candidates in their districts before both the Primary and General Election each year, attending four Maplewood Democratic Committee meetings, as well as events held by the Essex County Democratic Committee. District Leaders, who serve for two-year terms, also participate in interviewing and endorsing candidates for Township Committee each year.
               Those interested should submit a resume and letter of interest to Ian Grodman, Chair, at, by February 29.


The Columbia High School girls swim team ended their season on Thursday with a perfect 13-0 record, beating Millburn 87-83 at Newark Academy.

The Lady Cougars head to the post-season tournament on Tuesday against Phillipsburg at home. Come out and root them on.

If you missed our interviews with the team co-captains and coach Maggie Keenan last week see them HERE.


Several Maplewood Middle School parents and students are upset that one of their most popular math teachers is being transferred to Columbia High School in the middle of the year, a move many say is disruptive to a very important accelerated math class.

The teacher, Julie Skrivanic, teaches three 6th grade math classes and an accelerated math class and has drawn support from many students and parents for her work. MMS principal Jerrill Adams informed parents last week that she would be transferred to Columbia to take a new position on Feb. 1.

He also indicated that a replacement had yet to be found.

See that notice below:

Sent: Thu, Jan 21, 2016 3:34 pm
January 21, 2016
Dear Parents and Guardians:

I am writing to inform you that your child’s math teacher, Ms. Skrivanic, 
has accepted a new position at Columbia High School to teach Algebra 1 and Pre-Calculus. 
She will begin her new role on February 1st.

We have begun our search for a new teacher and will commence interviews immediately. 
Our plan is to have the position filled with a highly qualified teacher by February 5th at the latest.

The entire MMS administrative team is confident that cooperative planning with our veteran 
6th grade math teacher, Mr. Wackerman, will provide a smooth transition for the new teacher. 
The new teacher will also receive support from the K-8 Math Supervisor, Ms. Kim Beane, 
who facilitates faculty department meetings and professional development.

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions.
Together We Can,
Jerrill M. Adams, MS.Ed, M.A.

Several parents reacted with concern, including one who penned a letter to the district that stated, among other things:

“There are concerns, to be sure, as many of these students (and parents-including me) have worked very hard to meet the very specific demands made of these students and we would like to be assured that they will receive the same level of instruction that will prepare them to successfully continue on the Accelerated track (providing they chose to do so). While it is understandable that teachers can "shift" for numerous reasons it is notable that there will no doubt be an adjustment period for the students and parents and we should all be working together to ensure that this transition will be as smooth and successful as possible.”

We reached out to Adams to ask why this disruptive move was made. He responded via email: “That is a great question for CHS Principal, Ms. Elizabeth Aaron. In every career, people choose to pursue different opportunities.”

Asked why, Aaron responded via email: “We are thrilled that Ms. Krivanic’s career decisions are bringing her to CHS, and know that Mr. Adams is excited about his chance to bring on an equally talented teacher to his team at MMS. In SOMSD, our admin team works closely to be sure we make decisions that serve students K-12 and are confident all of our students are being served by any personnel changes at our schools.” 

Superintendent John Ramos and the district did not respond to requests for comment.

Stay tuned!