Branding Committee Presents at Montville Board of Ed; District Budget Priorities Revealed

Board Member Michael Johnson Credits: Melissa Benno
Jack Motherway Credits: Melissa Benno
Susan Marinello and Michael Johnson Credits: Melissa Benno

MONTVILLE, NJ – The results of the district branding committee were presented at the Montville Board of Education meeting on Feb. 7, which included a revised mission statement and the goal to have a new brand for the district by Sept. 2017.

The district branding committee held a series of meetings to arrive at the mission statement and values statement over the past few months and District Communications Officer Susan Marinello and Board Member Michael Johnson presented the committee’s findings. The problem, Marinello said, was to incorporate the district’s seven different school identities into one district-wide brand.

Committee members included teachers, parents, and students. The group utilized feedback from what it called the “branding brain trust” to provide ideas from stakeholders, and revisited the district mission statement to “ensure it aligns with current values and projected priorities,” according to the presentation.

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After the input of about 30 to 40 brain trust members, the committee came up with a proposed revised mission statement of:

Montville Township Public Schools strive to develop well rounded, invested and inspired students by engaging them in an experience of collaboration with educators, parents and community that fosters a culture of innovation, character and inclusivity, in a shared spirit of pride.

Johnson said the committee asked the brain trust what terms were most important to them to be associated with the district five years in the future. He said the words were reassembled to become the mission statement and value statement.

“The brain trust made it very clear that they didn’t just want a statement of where we hope to go,” Johnson said. “They want to see some semblance of a plan of how we’re going to get there.”

Johnson said the committee decided to create a vision statement “to explain what tools the district possessed to carry the district through to that end point.”

The concepts that came up over and over again in discussions, Johnson said, were actually values: innovation, character and community.

Johnson said the “character” component was more than just ethical behavior, but also helping each student to grow as individuals and “discover what they want to get out of life and their future careers” through wide experiences offered to students in the district.

Johnson said letterhead, policy guidelines, and official images for the district were ultimate goals of the committee. The committee wants to have a logo or shield that “allows for a component of individuality at each of our schools,” he said.

The group wishes to have a brand by the start of the ’17-’18 school year, a goal Marinello called aggressive. They are in the process of sending out requests for proposals to branding and marketing firms to come up with a brand proposal, she said.

Marinello said the high school is in some cases using a mustang/bronco mascot image which they would like to refine, and Lazar Middle School students identify with the mustang mascot of the high school.

District Goals and Budget Priorities

Superintendent of Schools René Rovtar quickly reviewed the goals that she and board set for the ’16-’17 school year. They included putting a referendum for a public vote, which will happen on Sept. 26.

The second goal was a special education cost review, which Rovtar said she hopes to receive the report from the audit that was performed on the department in the next several months.

The demographic study results were presented in September, and the resulting decision to renovate the Hilldale media center was presented here.

In the area of world language, Rovtar said administration had conducted site visits to see other district elementary programs, and made high school program changes to allow students to continue past the minimum two years of study.

“We are currently engaged in designing a five-year strategic plan to accomplish goals that were identified through three public input sessions,” Rovtar said.

The goal areas that were identified were:

  • Student achievement and district achievement
  • Technology/STEM  [science, technology, engineering and math] and STEAM [+ art]
  • School culture and climate/community involvement
  • Cultivation of faculty excellence

Rovtar said the district does not know how much state aid will be coming until the governor’s state of the state address Feb. 28, and she said there are rumors of changes to the amounts this year.

“We hesitate to put forward a lot of new initiatives at this time, because once we’re more public about what our intentions are, things could change as a result of the state aid picture, and we don’t want to move backwards,” she said.

However, certain initiatives are a priority, according to Rovtar, including:

  • The Hilldale media center renovation
  • Creation of a new section for the Valley View pre-school
  • New science materials for the Next Generation Science Standards
  • New science books with STEM labs
  • Gifted and talented program resources
  • Enhancement of the elementary schools’ Spanish program
  • Purchase of the iReady program
  • SMART board replacement (electronic projection screens)
  • Replacement of teacher laptops
  • Purchase of additional Chromebook (mini computer) carts


MTHS teacher Fran Hirsch presented an episode of MTTV, a video news production at the school which “takes STEM and turns it on its ear,” she said.

The students who produce the episodes have taken a video production class, then taken their knowledge to create a new show, she said. Students stay in homeroom for a few extra minutes on Wednesdays to see the episodes, which contain updates on team achievements, and interviews with athletes and club participants, who talk about their pastimes.

Newscaster and junior Jack Motherway said it took almost two months to complete the first episode.

“We got a great response in school,” Motherway said. “People liked seeing their friends on the show.”

Motherway also said that sports and interests that usually wouldn’t get much recognition were spotlighted on the show, such as the relatively new archery club.

To view the latest episode, go to the MTHS home page and look on the left side below “Upcoming Events”: MTTV.

Returning Math Tests

Rovtar said that the Curriculum, Instruction and Technology Committee met regarding the test returning policy in the math department that had recently been changed to preclude returning tests at the high school. After “careful contemplation and reflection on what was best for the students, the recommendation was made, supported by the committee,” that tests will once again be returned.

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