BOE Reorganizes & Offers New Citizens Advisory Academy

By Cheryl Conway 

The Mt. Olive school administration’s heart is in the right place when it comes to community engagement and is offering a new initiative to those who want to better understand their school district. 

The MOTSD Citizens Advisory Academy is being launched in February and is open to anyone who would like to sign up.  The comprehensive in-person 10-week educational program is “designed for individuals keen on understanding the intricate dynamics of our school district,” explains MOTSD Superintendent of Schools Dr. Sumit Bangia. 

“This unique initiative aims to bridge the gap between the community and the Mt. Olive Township School District, offering participants a firsthand experience into its operations and the challenges it faces,” she says. It is “your gateway to understanding our school district.”

The Advisory Academy was an initiative that James Carifi, director of security at MOTSD, had implemented in another town that he had worked in, shared Bangia.

 “When he shared the idea with me, I thought it would be a great community relationship building opportunity,” she says. Bangia is thrilled by this effort “to foster community engagement and empower citizens with valuable insights into the workings of the Mt. Olive School District.”

Key features of this program include: 

Multifaceted Learning: The academy is crafted as a multifaceted learning experience, providing participants with a holistic understanding of the school district’s functions.

Weekly Sessions: The program spans 10 weeks, with weekly sessions scheduled to take place at Mt. Olive High School in Flanders. These sessions will run for 90 minutes each, offering an in-depth exploration of various aspects of the MOTSD.

Community-Driven Topics: To ensure relevance and address the interests of the public, each night will focus on a specific topic selected by the community as their top subjects. This community-driven approach ensures that participants gain insights into the areas that matter to them the most.

Sessions will be led by school district administration and topics include: Student mental health, budget, transportation, technology, facility projects, college preparation/financial aid, curriculum offerings, grading policy, student support programs, equity and inclusion and security and school safety.

How to Participate:

“If you are an interested citizen eager to delve into the heart of our school district, participation in The MOTSD Citizens Advisory Academy is open to all,” shares Bangia. “Whether you are a parent, community member or simply passionate about education, this program welcomes you.”

To enroll, please register at this online link. Spots are limited to 25 people. 

For additional information or to address any questions, contact Carifi at 973-691-4008 ext. 8805 or james.carifi@motsd.org.

Classes are scheduled to begin in February with the exact date yet to be announced. All classes will be held in-person at MOHS.

Mt Olive Board of Education Reorganizes

The Mt. Olive School Board of Education reorganized at its last meeting held Monday, January 8. 

Those who attend the meetings and are familiar with the BOE would agree that its makeup has changed to mostly new members for this term.

School was closed that day due to the weather and power outages but the BOE still met at its board office to swear in three newly elected BOE members and select its new president and vice president. 

BethAnn Figueira, Jeannie O’Neill and Marc Orzillo were sworn in as new members to the board replacing longtime members Dr. Anthony Giordano and Dr. Antoine Gayles and newer member Christopher Zeier. 

Lisa Narcisse was nominated as BOE president and Lisa Fenton was nominated at BOE vice president.

The meeting concluded with training on various aspects such as posting on social media, how to uphold confidentiality and appropriate practices as BOE members. 

The role of the BOE is “not to run the district but to make sure it well run,” the BOE attorney reminds the BOE members.   

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