Two incumbents, one newcomer elected to Bordentown Regional Board of Education

STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF

BORDENTOWN – There were three spots on the Bordentown Regional Board of Education (BOE) this November and all three residents of the Bordentown community who ran unopposed for the board were elected.

BOE President Eileen Francisco-Cabus and Janet Nielsen were both elected for a second term on the BOE, while Joseph A. Dean was selected to his first stint on the board.

Francisco-Cabus, who holds one of the Bordentown Township seats on the BOE, is excited to continue to work with the “fantastic” staff people who serve on the board.

“I’m really excited,” Francisco said of her second term. “The task at hand can be overwhelming at times, but I am excited to work with a team that is driven to work through those challenges and open to conversation on many different topics.”

Being BOE president has been an “eye-opening” experience for Francisco-Cabus, a Mercer County Community College staff member who works with students with intellectual disabilities.

The 14-year Bordentown resident said she has learned a lot from being on the board and how much the community and the times we live in reflect on the school.

“It has enriched me a lot and helped me learn more about different topics and issues,” Francisco-Cabus said on being a part of the BOE. “I learned more about the environment and how much our society today leaks into the schools’ and students’ lives. It’s not just academic.”

Nielsen, who was an educator for 35 years, is a big believer in staying current in what is happening in the world.

She will continue to hold one of the two Bordentown City spots on the BOE.

The 15-year Bordentown City resident decided to run for the BOE three years ago because she wanted to give back to the community.

As part of the curriculum and policy committees on the BOE, Nielsen did a lot of research on computer systems, online learning curriculums and internet options for the Bordentown Regional School District’s virtual learning program.

Nielsen said her purpose was to make sure all students in the district had the devices and internet standards needed to participate in virtual learning, as well as helping teachers find online programs to help teach their curriculum.

“It’s really important to keep an eye on what we need to look into for computers and the internet to teach and learn our curriculum,” Nielsen said. “We need to see what needs to be updated.”

Both Nieslen and Francisco-Cabus have both been very pleased with how the district’s hybrid model that began on Oct. 13 is going.

Francisco-Cabus said the biggest focus for the BOE going forward at this time will be studying the numbers of COVID-19 cases in the community and Burlington County, before making a decision on expanding in-person instruction or going back to full virtual learning.

Another item the BOE will look into expanding is inclusivity for all students regarding special needs, race and gender identification.

“We want a safe space all and give people the opportunity to let their voices be heard,” Francisco-Cabus said.

Having different people from all different walks of life is what both Francisco-Cabus and Nielsen feel helps the BOE collaborate well and make the best decisions for the school district.

“We’re a group that works super well together and open to listening to each other’s ideas,” Nielsen said. “It’s been a positive experience.”

As a newcomer to board, Dean said he is looking forward to working with the members on the BOE and feels he is ready to take on the challenges at hand in his role as Fieldsboro official.

The Bordentown native and Burlington County Institute of Technology (BCIT) graduate is currently a Wawa project manager for the tri-state area.

While attending BCIT, Dean played four years on the Bordentown Regional High School football team.

Dean has five children enrolled in the district and said he has done his due diligence in preparation to being elected to the board.

He took orientation classes online through the State of New Jersey and has done research on how the students are handling virtual and hybrid learning through relationships he has built with teachers and staff in the district.

Dean believes the BOE and the district have done a “tremendous” job with handling everything with the pandemic, especially at Bordentown Regional Middle School, where he believes the school is meeting the needs of students through these challenging times.

“This is a great opportunity to be involved in the community,” Dean said on being elected to the BOE.

“I like being a part of the community and building it up. I am someone who enjoys building people. Our school district is the best place to build students into the people they will be. If we come together as a community from the Bordentown Township Committee to the BOE, we can make our community a better place.”