The 17th CNMI State Board of Education held its inaugural meeting yesterday at the Marianas High School cafeteria in Susupe, with new members Maisie B. Tenorio and Greg Borja and 16th BOE member Herman Atalig being sworn in and Andrew L. Orsini being elected as board chairman.
Associate Justice Perry B. Inos swore in the BOE’s newest members, Maisie B. Tenorio and Greg Borja, as well as Herman Atalig, who is a holdover from the 16th BOE.
In a later interview, Orsini said the BOE has a lot of unfinished business and he would like to move forward to complete the things that have yet to be addressed.
Chief among that is to bring “normalcy” back to schools as they progress to hybrid learning, Orsini said. That means students will be going to school physically for two days and then will have online classes for the remainder of the days. Additionally, Orsini wants to restore 80 hours, instead of 64 hours, for PSS teachers and staff.
He also envisions a more environment-focused PSS, considering its large ecological footprint. PSS has over 10,000 students and 1,200 teachers and staff.
Orsini also said he looks forward to working with Tenorio and Borja and listening to the new ideas they will bring to the board. “The people have spoken to bring them in. Their intention or passion is there for the people, for our children, and I look forward to working with them and welcome their new ideas,” said Orsini.
Besides Orsini, the other BOE officers are Atalig, who was elected vice chairman, and Tenorio, who was elected secretary and treasurer.
It was Atalig who nominated Orsini, who was then unanimously elected chairperson.
Atalig was sworn in again as a BOE member after running unopposed in last November’s elections. Atalig was also unanimously chosen as BOE’s vice chairman, making this his second term. This time around, he said his is going to be two things: “One is the quality of education that I’m going to continue to push and two is equity for all schools. Also, I want to push the meaning of Student First for all three [islands]. Student First in the community, Student First on the islands, and Students First in schools,” said Atalig. He is confident that the 17th BOE will be able to achieve that.
The fifth BOE member is Tinian representative Antonio L. Borja. That makes them the voting members of the board.
The three non-voting members are private schools representative Ron Snyder, student representative Rainalyn Reyes, and teacher representative Phyllis Ain.
In a separate interview, Tenorio said she feels blessed to have this opportunity to serve the students, adding that she has worked with them for so long and listened to all of their dreams and their hopes and their struggles.
“It’s such an incredible honor to be able to serve my community and to serve students in this capacity. I have always loved working with PSS. It is something that I am very committed to working with through the coalition,” she said. Tenorio is executive director of the Northern Marianas Coalition Against Domestic & Sexual Violence.
Borja said his vision for the future of PSS is to make sure that students are succeeding and that schools and the administration and teachers are getting the resources they need in order to make that vision possible. “I’m really looking forward to working with my fellow members and trying to move forward with the system. I know we have a lot of challenges right now, and we just have to overcome those and make sure the school system gets what they need, to get students what they need,” he said, and that he’s ready to work and move forward.
MHS principal Jonathan Aguon presided over yesterday’s ceremonies. Outgoing BOE member Marylou Ada was not present for the ceremony.