BOE finally meets quorum; Antonio Borja elected chair


The 18th CNMI State Board of Education hold a regular meeting yesterday morning, during which members unanimously elected then-BOE vice chair Antonio L. Borja, fourth from left, as its new chairman. Vice chair is SGM (ret.) Herman Atalig, back, second from right, and the secretary/treasurer is Gregory P. Borja, third from right. Also present is member Andrew L. Orsini, far right, Maisee B. Tenorio, center, private school representative Dr. Ron Snyder, next to Tenorio, and teacher representative, Dr. Dora B. Miura, far left. (LEIGH GASES)

After three tries, the 18th CNMI State Board of Education was finally able to muster a quorum yesterday morning for a regular meeting at their office on Capitol Hill, setting the stage for the unanimous election of then-BOE vice chair Antonio L. Borja as the new chairman.

Before the start of the meeting, then-chair Gregory P. Borja offered apologies to the people present in the packed conference room and to those watching the meeting online. “I’d like to offer some apologies to everyone for the actions I’ve taken and the conduct of the whole board as of recent times.”

Besides Antonio L. Borja, the new BOE officers are SGM (ret.) Herman Atalig, who was elected vice chairman, and Gregory P. Borja, who was elected secretary/treasurer. The other BOE members present yesterday morning were Andrew L. Orsini and Maisie B. Tenorio

The BOE is the rule-making body that oversees and implements policies that govern the Public School System. It failed to meet the quorum requirement during meetings last Feb. 1, 14, and 24 so the meetings did not push through.

During a break in yesterday’s meeting, Antonio L. Borja told Saipan Tribune, “I’m glad that we were able to come together and have a quorum. We’ve really needed this since January. …My hope is to get the board to be more proactive than reactive with issues. Of course, we’re going to have issues coming up that we’re not probably going to see, but we’re going to try to foresee them—so I’m glad we’re back together.”

As for the meeting itself, he said they’re trying to work things out. “So far, so good,” he said. “We want to be proactive and I want to make sure, as chair, that our students and teachers are not forgotten in this whole process. It’s our fiduciary duty to make sure we uphold our oath to PSS.”

With no functioning BOE in January, February, and the beginning of March, Education Commissioner Dr. Alfred Ada had to use his authority to make decisions on behalf of the board for the benefit of PSS.

When asked what issues the BOE was supposed to discuss during the first board meeting that triggered the quorum issue, he said Orsini made a motion to go into an executive or closed-door session for personal matters, but Gregory, Antonio, and Tenorio voted against it, while Orsini and Atalig voted yes.

“The reason why I voted no on the executive session is because that should be a public forum. Other than that, I’m not sure what we’re going to tackle until we get into executive session today. I know that everyone has been reading the papers and having their own assumptions and watching the news, so those are not concrete until after the executive session, which I cannot talk about at all,” said Borja.

As for his next steps as chairman and when asked about the corruption allegations against some BOE members, Borja replied: “Communication is key. I would like to…[have] open communication with everybody. Things will probably happen down the line…but in regards to the Professional Development funds, it is true that we did not know we were not allowed to donate outside of the [Public School System].”

He said that former chair Gregory Borja donated his PD funds last August 2022 before it was made known that they were not allowed to do it. “Same as member Tenorio—I signed it as I was acting chair at the time, but I myself did not know.”

“There’s cases where people are saying we need to pay it back, but if we go back into the list of donations outside of PSS, you will see that our past members have donated outside of PSS as well—to the Saipan Chamber of Commerce, municipal councils, and whatnot. So, I don’t think that there should be an issue. After we found out that we were not allowed to do it, we basically stopped.”

Leigh Gases
Leigh Gases is the youngest reporter of Saipan Tribune and primarily covers community related news, but she also handles the utilities, education, municipal, and veterans beats. Contact Leigh at

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