ROSELLE, NJ — As veteran board members set the vision for 2015-16, the Roselle Board of Education elected unanimously Archange Antoine as board president April 27, as the veteran board member outlined his vision for the coming school year.
Antoine, 32, succeeds outgoing Board President Rev. Reginald Atkins, who resigned from the Board this month when he was appointed to Roselle Borough Council as Councilman-at-Large.
Following Antoine’s election, the board nominated and unanimously elected first-term member Naima K. Ricks, 25, as vice president. Both Antoine and Ricks are Roselle natives.
Pointing to the critical role that public education plays both inside and outside the classroom, Antoine said a main priority of the board under his leadership would be to ensure that every student experience college campus life prior to graduation.
“Every student should have the campus experience before they set off in the world to do whatever it is they choose to,” Antoine said. “Attending college must be a viable and realistic option for all students,” he added.
Antoine also singled out community policing is a centerpiece of his term. Calling the role of policing in the school community “one of the most important issues of our time,” he said creating sustainable ties between district building leaders, students, and Borough Police is a priority.
“All over the country, you see symptoms of communities being underserved. The simmering unrest boils over when there exists a fundamental distrust between citizens and authority. Establishing trust and understanding between all Roselle stakeholders should serve as a hallmark for this Board and for all Boards to come,” Antoine said.
Establishing a renewed level of trust, Antoine said, would to work to address the "school to prison pipeline," where students transition from public schools to the juvenile and criminal justice systems.
“When you have children who have learning disabilities or histories of poverty, abuse or neglect, they benefit from additional educational and counseling services—not from being punished or marginalized,” Antoine said.
Creating opportunities for graduating students to pursue not only college but also entrepreneurial endeavors will be front and center as well, Antoine said. “Young adults are starting their careers using skills related to graphic design and coding,” he said. “As a district, we need to put teaching these skills on the top of our list.”
Finally, Antoine said stabilizing the district’s tax levy on the residents would be a goal of the Board of Education. “We have contractual obligations to our staff and faculty, who deserve a nurturing, well-resourced teaching environment, as well as an obligation to the Roselle community to provide quality public education,” Antoine said.
“But we also need to work with our partners in the Statehouse to assure that our current unfunded mandates are, in fact, funded. Also, districts around the state have had their state aid stagnated for years despite rising expenditures. We need to work to recoup those funds,” Antoine said.