There are four candidates for three seats on the Montville Township Public Schools Board of Education in the Nov. 5 election. TAPinto Montville recently asked them five questions. We will be running their answers individually as part of a series; the order of the candidates’ responses was chosen at random.

MONTVILLE, NJ – TAPinto Montville recently asked board of education candidate John Morella five questions. Here are his responses.

Tell us a little about yourself.

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My name is John Morella, I am married to my wife Anna for 21 years and I have a daughter, Juliana, who is a Senior at Montville HS and a son, Luke, who is a Sophomore at Montville HS.  I have been a member of the Montville BOE for nine years and still truly enjoy serving for the district. I feel with my background as a Lieutenant for the West Orange Police Department and have been heavily involved with the West Orange School District as the Liaison and as the commander of the School Resource Officer Program lends itself as an individual on the board with a specific expertise in the areas of School Security, Active Shooter Response and The Memorandum of Understanding between Law Enforcement and Education. I made the push for Montville’s School Resource Program getting off the ground and I am happy to say it is thriving. I also graduated from Rutgers University with a Finance Degree and over the last nine years of being on the board, I have a firm understanding of the budget process when it comes to a school district. I consider myself fiscally responsible not only for the students and staff of our district but also for Montville’s tax-payers. Since I have two children and one niece in the district and had six other nieces and nephews graduate from the district, it makes me thoroughly invested and want only the best for the district.   

What challenges face today’s student and what can the school district do to help manage those challenges?

Today's students face a myriad of issues that we did not have to face to the degree in which they do. A lot of our students having the pressure of striving to be high achieving, some students dealing with bullying and/or ridicule, individual attempting to overcome heroin and/or other drug addictions, possible identity issues and the list can go on and on, creates a multitude of challenges for our youth. These pressures send some of our children over the edge sometimes resorting to teen suicide and/or extreme violence. These mental health and societal issues do not only affect the students but it affects the community as a whole. Although the Montville school district does a lot to attempt to circumvent these issues and always tries to be ahead of the curve we always have to try to stay up to date and improve in this area, because losing one child to these issues is too much. The Safety, Security and well being of our children and staff members is of utmost importance. As you look around the country the senseless violence that happens in our schools has become an epidemic. Our children are our most precious resource and although education is extremely important, their safety and well being are paramount. I will fight for the district to continue to utilize the most up to date training, consistently look to improve the security through available grants and funding, along with enhancing the education of staff and students on what red flags to look for to hopefully pre-empt issues. 

Are the new New Jersey Student Learning Assessments an improvement over PARCC?

NJSLA is a standardized test just like PARCC, the only difference is that the NJSLA has fewer questions and takes less time to administer.  The actual questions are created by Pearson Education, just like PARCC it is just assessing the students on a smaller sample size. Any time we can conduct more learning in the classroom rather than taking standardized tests it is a positive. 

What changes or improvements do you think the district needs? Or, what areas of weakness do you see in the district?

I believe that the Montville School District is a very strong and vibrant district with not many areas of weakness.  With that being said there are always areas in which we can improve.  We need to take the approach that if there are any students who struggle, individuals that are bullied or picked on, students who may lose their way somewhere in their school career and are in need of saving or placing back on the right track, then there is always an area for improvement.  We should always strive for perfection, even if it is not possible to do, our children are always worth trying for.

Why do you feel you are uniquely qualified to be a board member?

As I mentioned in the first question my profession as a Lieutenant in the West Orange Police Department, specifically in the areas of schools for 20 years, has made me to be a perfect fit as a Board of Education member and it allows me to give a different type of perspective than what most people can provide because of my background and expertise. Along with this, I have supervised/led many men and women throughout my career which has spanned nearly twenty-five years. I am seen as an expert in the areas of School Security, Active Shooter Training and Response, School Resource Officer Programs along with being very well versed in The Memorandum of Understanding between Law Enforcement and Education and have been sought out by the Department of Homeland Security to conduct Large Scale Mock Active Shooters for Schools, Businesses’ and houses of Worship. My Leadership abilities are very self-evident and I have been lent out by my department to train other school districts and police departments in the areas mentioned above.  Along with this also having nine years of board of education experience allows for the board to run seamlessly into the future, if I am fortunate enough to be re-elected. I truly do enjoy serving the Community in this capacity and hope that come Election Day that people in the community see the value that I bring to the table and vote for me (Line #4) on November 5. 

 Editor’s note: TAPinto policy does not allow editing of candidates’ answers.

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