As the CNMI Board of Education’s new chair, Gregory P. Borja hopes to see policies and procedures established that ensure student success and allow the CNMI Public School System to move forward.
Becoming board chairman was unexpected, though. Borja said he was surprised to be nominated for and voted in as BOE chair but he is gratified to his colleagues for seeing him as fit for the role.
Borja was elected the BOE’s new chair during the board’s first meeting of the year on Jan. 11. Borja’s term as chair will end on the second Tuesday of January 2023.
“I was a little bit in awe and shock that I was nominated to be the chair. …I’m very thankful to my fellow board members, for giving their confidence [in] me to lead us moving forward this year. I know that this is a challenging time,” he said in an interview last week.
Borja also thanked outgoing chair Andrew L. Orsini for “his dedication and guidance” to the BOE for the past year. As a relatively new BOE member, Borja also thanked Orsini for giving him some guidance on how the BOE conducts itself. Borja was sworn in as a BOE member in January 2021.
“I do want to thank Andrew Orsini, our former chairperson, for his dedication and guidance [in] leading us this past year. …He’s been very helpful [in] allowing me to gain knowledge through him in terms of how the system works, so I do thank him for that. And, again, I thank all the other members…because we can’t do it by ourselves. We have to work together. …There are challenges, but I think we’re going to move forward,” said Borja.
Orsini remains a member of the BOE.
Points of focus for the BOE going into 2022, Borja said, includes “keeping kids in school,” ensuring that those who are unable to attend in-person classes will have adequate remote learning resources, and working with CNMI Public School System leadership to establish policies and procedures to “allow students to reach their educational goals to be successful in life.”
Borja added that he has “deep concern” for PSS students in Special Education programs and wants to ensure that they are receiving adequate services, but said that, currently, “the school system in my opinion has been doing very well at [that].”
Borja also said that he would like to see his BOE establish policies that allow PSS to move forward and let Education Commissioner Dr. Alfred B. Ada, his key management team, and PSS school principals lead the way in terms of operations, with the BOE providing support in decision-making.
With the COVID-19 pandemic going on for nearly two years now, Borja also hopes to see semblances of a return to normalcy during his time as chairperson, including but not limited to holding in-person graduations for PSS’ outgoing seniors.
However, students’ safety and success are priorities for Borja and the BOE, and as such will work with the appropriate health officials and PSS leadership “in terms of how to best serve our students.”
“If they decide that for the safety of the students that we have to do drive-through [graduations] again, my biggest concern, again, is the students and the students’ success. …Keeping that in mind, we will work with our health care [partners and] our Commissioner of Education in terms of how to best serve our students,” said Borja.