Wednesday night's Town Hall Meeting was a middle school forum held at South Orange Middle School. The meeting was part orientation meeting and part Q&A. Superintendent Brian Osborne was joined by the principals of South Orange Middle School and Maplewood Middle School, Kirk Smith and Jeffrey Truppo.
Osborne noted that this year, both middle schools have revamped their language arts curriculum. The district is also "completely overhauling how we support and evaluate our teachers using a nationally recognized framework for teaching," he said. Osborne continued, saying that they are taking on "core issues" of teaching and learning to improve the instruction students receive.
"As for the budget," Osborne stated, "we are in tough economic times, and we need to pay attention to what our core mission is in supporting kids in our classrooms and our teachers." He said that these initiatives must stay "well supported through this period," though the district faces a challenging budget process.
After that, the floor was opened to questions. The parent of incoming sixth grade twins inquired about how placement worked for more than one child. Principal Smith of SOMS responded that the school would certainly seek out the counsel of the parents in order to make their decision, and that the placement issue would be revisited every year. "No triplets, please," he joked.
A few parents had questions about how the departmentalization of classes worked in the middle schools. In both middle schools, teams of approximately 125 children rotate classes throughout the day. At MMS, the configurations of the teams will change each year, and the children will be randomly reassigned to teams. This is the way it has always been done at SOMS. This is done, say both principals, for a variety of social and academic reasons.