SPRINGFIELD, NJ – Once a year, the Township Committee and Board of Education are required to hold a joint session.  That was done Monday night at the Media Center in Jonathan Dayton High School and the issues discussed were addressing and reducing the stigma of mental health, and understanding how to optimally use the Media Center.

Township Committeewoman Erica Dubois asked the members of the Board of Education to adopt the Stigma Free School District proclamation supporting elimination of stigma associated with mental health issues.  At the May 1, 2017 Township Committee meeting, May 2017 was proclaimed MENTAL AWARENESS MONTH “…in the Township of Springfield and by this action, join the nation in raising awareness of mental health issues and, by sharing personal knowledge and experience of what living with mental illness means, we can reduce the barriers and stigma associated with individuals seeing mental health treatment recovery.”

Scott Silverstein, Vice President of the Board of Education said that no position on the request would be made at the session because it needed to be reviewed with the entire Board.  He noted there were not enough members of the Board of Education at the joint session for a quorum.  He also noted that Springfield schools are already very sensitive to mental health issues and provide related training for much of the staff.  Committeewoman Dubois noted that was encouraging but cautioned about assuming they were adequate since she knew levels of that kind of training were not sufficient at other academic institutions in the state.   

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Township Committeewoman Bujnowski brought up the use of the Media Center and wondered if there was a way of “teaming up” with the Township in a way that benefits both sides.  She used the Memorial Day Parade as an example of how the event could be better showcased, while many students would get more experience broadcasting the entire event, or just parts of it.

According to a member of the Board of Education, the Media Center operates on a closed system and did not believe had the necessary capacity for doing that.  He noted the shows produced at the Media Center are shown only In Jonathan Dayton High School with the exception being independent films made by some students.

The topic did stimulate discussion of things to consider and what might be possible.  Some of the potential benefits from more optimal usage of the Media Center include providing students with an even more robust educational experience and getting a broader audience.  It seems certain the center will be more fully utilized in the coming school year since it opened last year.