Morris District names former board member as communications coordinator

Jennifer van Frank has been named new communications coordinator for the Morris School District. Photo by Marion Filler
Jennifer van Frank has been named new communications coordinator for the Morris School District. Photo by Marion Filler
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By Marion Filler

The Morris School District has a new communications coordinator who already knows the operation intimately.

Former board member Jennifer van Frank will succeed Mary Donohoe, who retired last year after 25 years with the District.

“I’m super excited to be back. The Administration works so hard for the betterment of the students, and I’m so glad to be part of it,” van Frank said at Monday’s board meeting in Morristown.

The Morris Township resident stepped down last summer after two years on the board. A former officer of the Hillcrest Home and School Association, she has children in Hillcrest and the Frelinghuysen Middle School.

The $69,000 job entails overseeing internal communications among parents, teachers, and students throughout the District–as well as outreach to business leaders and the community about what’s happening in their schools.

“I will be the interface for all these different constituencies,” said van Frank, who was greeted warmly by her former board colleagues. Her appointment was unanimous, except for an abstention by new board member Vij Pawar.

The District’s 10 schools serve 5,200 students from Morristown, Morris Township and (for high school) Morris Plains.

Supt. Mackey Pendergrast’s report, Jan. 28, 2019. Video by Marion Filler for MorristownGreen.com:

In other business, Superintendent Mackey Pendergrast praised Business Administrator Anthony LoFranco for helping secure a state grant that will enable 225 children to attend pre-school next year. The District has partnered with Head Start and the YMCA to expand the program.

“It’s a great start and we are one of only a few districts in the state of New Jersey to be in this position,” said Pendergrast.

Auditor Bob Morrison also reminded board members that the District will become debt-free this year.

“It’s like paying off your mortgage,” said Morrison.  And a healthy capital reserve means the District does not have to borrow for routine expenditures, “saving millions in interest.” 

That combination bodes well for the District, Pendergrast said. “We have options and can choose a lot of different ways to go forward,” he said.

The superintendent added kudos to students: The Morristown High School girls swim team won its first Morris County championship in 20 years, the Mock Trial team reached the county quarterfinals, and the Math Team finished second in the State among schools of comparable size, he said.

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