Important Information from the Westfield Board of Education's Feb. 19 Meeting
Thursday, February 21, 2013 • 7:36pm
To the Editor:
Synopsis of a Westfield Board of Education meeting on February 19, 2013
2013-2014 PRELIMINARY BUDGET
Business Administrator Dana Sullivan presented the 2013-2014 Preliminary
Budget that was created with the following priorities:
• Class size
• Cost Effective Planning
• Enrollment Needs
• Literacy Initiative
• Security & Safety
• Special Education
• STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) Programs
• Technology Initiative
The budget is preliminary since we have not yet received information on
state aid, which is expected on February 28. State aid has dropped
dramatically since 25 years ago when it represented 11% of our budget. In
2012-2013 state aid was 3.89% of our total budget. This year there is new
state software for budget purposes, of which we have received only a
portion. For planning purposes, districts have been told to assume that
state aid will remain at the same level. With state aid as an estimate
(assuming the same amount as last year), the $96,402,166 preliminary budget
• A total operating budget of $92,022,250 (a reduction from 2012-13, due
to purchase orders for goods/services not yet received and additional fund
balance and maintenance reserve this year for security and maintenance.)
• Local tax of $86,360,678, which represents a 2% increase in the tax
levy – less than what the State allows. In 2002 the local tax levy
approached 9% and has been declining ever since.
• 80% allocated toward salaries and benefits, since education is labor
intensive with the majority of the budget directed into the classroom
• Staffing changes based on enrollment and curriculum, which include:
o Intermediate Schools – Additional 4.4 teachers, 1 Resource Room
teacher, 0.4 custodian
o Westfield High School – 0.2 additional Mandarin teacher
o Special Education – 1 self contained classroom teacher at Roosevelt, 1
self contained classroom teacher at Wilson, and 2 paraprofessionals (cost
offset by decrease in out-of-district placements)
• First Grade – Reduction of 2 first grade teachers due to enrollment
• Westfield Cost Per Pupil, $11,666, is less than the state average of
$13,290, and less than comparable school districts
There will be three more public meetings on the budget – March 5, 19 and
21. The Public Hearing, at which time the Board is expected to adopt a
final budget, is scheduled for March 21.
ASSESSING STUDENT GROWTH IN FINE ARTS
Dr. Linda King, Supervisor of Visual & Performing Arts, gave a
presentation entitled: Measuring Student Growth in Westfield’s Visual and
Performing Arts (Curriculum Mapping, Benchmarks and Assessments). This
included a detailed explanation of the on-going department initiative to
apply curricular concepts and consistently monitor student growth. This is
being done in accordance with the theories of Kim Marshall, whose teacher
evaluation model was recently adopted by the district and is currently
being piloted by Dr. King.
All visual and performing arts staff members formed professional learning
communities in August according to their specific grade and subject
specialization. These groups have met regularly to map their curricula with
pacing guides, essential questions, benchmark standards, and lessons. Dr.
King provided examples of some of these documents as part of her
presentation. Much of the work in this area includes the development of
assessment tools to prove student growth. Samples of paper tests and
quizzes where shown, along with rubrics and centralized grading standards.
Perhaps the most innovative of these tools, however, are those that employ
technology. Dr. King shared several video clips of students using programs
on computers, Smart Boards, and iPads. This included Smart Music, a program
that “listens” to students playing instruments and scores note
accuracy; Zondle, a quiz and game app that allows teachers to create
questions and provides instant results; and Brainpop, a website that has
numerous classroom applications for student interaction. Dr. King closed
her presentation by explaining that her staff will continue to focus on
curriculum mapping, benchmarks and assessments this year in order to best
serve the students of Westfield while also providing experiences
representing excellence in the arts.
RECOGNIZING STUDENT MUSIC AWARDS
Board President, Richard Mattessich congratulated Westfield High School
students accepted to the 2013 Central Jersey Music Educators Association
(CJMEA) Region II Ensembles: Clayton Beyert - Wind Ensemble; Jonathan
Clancy and Alex DiFabio, Symphonic Band; and Francis Wong, Orchestra.
These students auditioned among hundreds of other students from throughout
the Central New Jersey Region. The Region II Orchestra performed on Sunday
January 6 at Montgomery HS in Skillman, NJ. On Sunday, January 13, the
wind/percussion students performed with their respective ensemble at
Montgomery High School. On Saturday, January 19, these students auditioned
for the New Jersey All-State Ensembles with hopes of joining the best
musicians in the state at the New Jersey Music Educators Association
Mr. Mattessich also congratulated the following WHS students for being
accepted into the 2013 Region II Chorus among 600 students who auditioned:
Anna Bloomfield, Isabella Gelfand, Aidan Hughes, Hasitha Kakileti, Maddie
Kevelson, Katherine Ko, Megan Pinna, and Melanie Snyder. The students
performed on January 27th at the Monroe middle school.
The following students were recognized for being chosen in the very select
All Eastern Choir: Liz Griesmer, Allie Hecht, Michael Kirkland, Matthew
Lynn, and Jack Mustard. They will perform at the National Association for
Music Education Conference in April. Cindy Xiao, violinist, will represent
WHS and NJ in the All Eastern Orchestra.
John Brzozowski is the WHS choral teacher, Chris Vitale instructs the band
students, and Raymond Wojcik teaches the students in the orchestra.
The Board accepted with regret the retirements of the following : Mary
Beth Mansfield – Edison Intermediate School Nurse, who has served the
children of Westfield for 25 years; Anthony Tomasso – Special Services
– Learning Disabled Teacher, who has taught in Westfield for 37 years;
Jacquelyn Stotler – Franklin School – 3rd Grade Teacher, who has 18
years of teaching in Westfield; Robert Pasternak – WHS – Social
Studies, who has taught in Westfield for 12 years; and William Gerber –
Franklin School – Speech Language Specialist, who has provided service to
Westfield students for 34 years.
The Board approved for second reading the following policies: 2240 –
Controversial Issues; 5308 – Pupil Health Records; 5331 – Management of
Life-Threatening Allergies in Schools; 6111- Special Education Medicaid
Initiative (Semi) Program; 6510 – Payroll Authorization; 6830 – Audit
and Comprehensive Annual Financial Report; 7422 – School Integrated Pest
Management Plan; 2415.04 – Title I – District-wide Parental
Involvement; 5111 – Eligibility of Resident/Nonresident Pupils; 5465 –
Early Graduation; and 8464 – Missing Children.
The Board affirmed my decision on a HIB investigation.
The Board approved the following curriculum: French 6, 7, & 8, and French
I, II, and II Honors. Copies are available in the Office of Instruction.
The Board accepted, with gratitude, the following gifts:
• From the Westfield Theatre Guild: $3,600 to the Westfield Board of
Education to be used toward Westfield Drama Department productions.
• From the Westfield Coalition for the Arts: $700 for master classes to
Westfield High School for demonstrating the use of a potter’s wheel;
$1000 to be used for the new Westfield High School Winter Guard program;
and $500 to be used for two guest clinicians to work with the Wind and Jazz
ensembles, as they prepare for local festivals.
AD HOC COMMITTEE REPORTS
Committee Chair Mitch Slater reported that the committee will meet on
Friday to discuss website improvements, among other topics. Mr. Slater,
Ginny Leiz and Rosanne Kurstedt attended the recent TECHSPO conference to
learn about new technology for schools. Mr. Slater also presented at the
conference on the topic of social media. Paul Pineiro, Assistant
Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction; Brian Auker, Chief Technology
Officer; and Arvin Vidal, Network Supervisor, were also in attendance.
Ginny Leiz attended the Recreation Commission meeting which included
discussion of improvements to Jefferson School’s field and the
possibility of upgrading Tamaques Park tennis courts.
At the Union County Educational Services Commission, Mrs. Leiz learned
that there may be County students available for free technical support work
in the summer.
Rosanne Kurstedt attended both the Franklin and Roosevelt PTSO meetings,
where fundraising and Board of Education topics were discussed.
Gretchan Ohlig attended the Library Board meeting. The Library had
provided space for students to study for mid-terms. She also was present
at the PTC/PTO Presidents meeting, where the district budget was discussed
and representatives from the Recreation Commission reviewed communication
procedures with the schools.
Lucy Biegler attended the PTO meeting at Tamaques, where teachers
presented helpful information to parents on the literacy initiative.
• The Counseling Departments at Edison and Roosevelt Intermediate
Schools will be hosting the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey’s 15
Minute Child Break program on Thursday, February 21, at 7pm at Edison
School’s auditorium from 7 to 8 PM. The 15 Minute Child Break is a ONE
HOUR multi-media presentation that will include the importance of the
parent or caregiver’s role on substance abuse prevention; as well as how
to talk to children about drugs, signs of use and abuse to look for,
current terminology, and trends of use. This presentation is an
opportunity for all parents and caregivers in ALL schools to come out and
find out the role they play and the power they have in preventing their
children from abusing drugs and alcohol.
• The WHS PTSO invites all Westfield parents to participate in a
community event on Wednesday, February 27, at 7:30 pm in the Westfield High
School Cafeteria B. The event is being held to make parents aware of the
responsibilities, potential consequences and liabilities when knowingly or
unknowingly hosting parties with alcohol or drugs on their property.
Panelists will include: Westfield High School Principal Peter Renwick,
Athletic Director Sandy Mamary, Coordinator of Counseling K-12 Maureen
Mazzarese, and Prosecutor Tony Prieto. Information will also be available
from the WHS-PTSO.
STEM ACTIVITIES FOR NATIONAL ENGINEERS’ WEEK
All next week, our secondary schools will be engaged in activities
designed to raise awareness about integrating the disciplines of Science,
Technology, Engineering and Math. Edison and Roosevelt Schools have
prepared design challenges for students which culminate on February 28 with
labs that will determine the effectiveness of their designs. At Westfield
High School, Math and Science teachers have over two dozen activities
planned. In addition to the activities, students will also enjoy guest
speakers from a wide range of STEM fields including: neuroscience, genetic
engineering, cryogenics and Chemistry. All the elementary schools have STEM
activities planned in the coming weeks.
On Saturday, February 16, the Emergency Services Unit of the Westfield
Police Department and administrators from our School District participated
in an Active shooter drill at Westfield High School. The goal was to help
school staff understand what to expect when law enforcement responds to a
threatening situation at a school. Following an informative presentation,
the staff in attendance participated in building exercises. This
information will be shared with all administrators. We very much
appreciate the continued cooperation of our local enforcement officers in
our mutual goal of providing safety in our schools.
Lincoln School will hold an additional registration date on Thursday,
February 28, from 1 – 3 PM for children who will become eligible for
kindergarten in the 2013-2014 school year. This applies to all children
who are residents of Westfield reaching the age of 5 on or before October
1, 2013. Please call for an appointment at 908-789-4455. Information
regarding documents that are required at registration is available at
INTERMEDIATE – FINE ARTS
Congratulations to the following Intermediate students, who were accepted
into the Central Jersey Music Educators Association Region II Ensembles. At
Roosevelt Intermediate School, Erica Lawrence will participate in the
Concert Band and Jack Butera, will be in the Percussion Ensemble. At
Edison Intermediate School, Alistair Kapadia, Dale Beyert, Sofia
Gonzalez-Nolde, and Arthur Xiao have been selected to the Concert Band.
Congratulations to these Intermediate students for making the Central
Jersey Music Educators Association Region II Orchestra: At Roosevelt,
Charlotte Perez, Mira Yang, and Jane Krause; and at Edison, Amy Liang and
Soo Min Chung.
Selected to the Region II Chorus for intermediate schools were Edison 8th
grader Lucy Hale and RIS 7th grader Leah Andrews.
• On January 17th the Science Olympiad Team from Roosevelt Intermediate
School competed at the regional competition at New Jersey Institute of
Technology. Roosevelt’s team placed 4th overall, and the following
students took home medals in the following events:
Justin Elbert and Christopher Hoerrner - 5th place Biology Blitz;
Esther Nam and Nick Walker - 5th Place Anatomy;
Jack Mieselman and Tommy Riley - 6th Place Disease Detectives;
Victoria Napolitano and Juliana Yang - 5th Place Dynamic Planet;
Angus Applegarth and Aaron Coleman - 4th Place Mission Possible;
Avery Wenta and Aaron Coleman - 5th Place Shock Value; and
Victoria Napolitano and Shannon Pyle - 6th Place Write it, Do it.
Congratulations to all of these students and their teacher, Jeffrey
Robbins, as they progress to the state competition at Middlesex County
College on Tuesday March 12th.
• Edison and Roosevelt Intermediate Schools participated in the national
movement of No Name Calling Week, designated for January 21 – 25 this
year. Throughout the schools, students found innovative ways to become
involved, working with counselors and the entire student body on the impact
of verbal bullying and strategies for coping with and putting an end to
• Eighth graders at Roosevelt Intermediate School in Westfield and
Cedarbrook School in Plainfield wrapped up this year’s Plainfield
Westfield Exchange Program on February 1. Meeting in Roosevelt’s
cafeteria, the students shared their opinions of the Steinbeck novel Of
Mice and Men and one of its major themes: The struggle to achieve the
American Dream. The students from each school studied the novel for four
weeks, which included two visits between schools to share ideas. Roosevelt
also established an online wiki for students from both schools to
communicate between meetings. In addition to examining the connections
between the novel and the world, the students were asked to reflect on what
they learned from each other and each community during the exchange
program. Following the discussion period, the Plainfield 8th graders
remained for lunch and attended afternoon classes with their Westfield
counterparts. Roosevelt Principal Stewart Cary noted the success of the
program and the importance of our students learning at an early age the
need to work together and understand varying points of view.
• Fifth grade teacher Betsy Freeman has reported exciting STEM-related
news at Franklin Elementary School. Three of her fifth grade students were
recognized in the ePals-Smithsonian Invent-it Challenge. Hundreds of K-12
students from around the globe participated; their challenge was to find a
real-world problem and come up with an invention to solve it. Dustin Paden
was named Winner in the 9-11 age group for his Drip Gripper invention that
recycles water. Dustin will receive a scholarship to a one-week invention
camp, some high-end LEGOs, and Smithsonian and ePals merchandise. Rachel
Saxon received the Helping the Planet Award for her invention to help
rescuers clean marine animals disabled during an oil spill. Matt Rock
received the Helping People Award for conceiving his Shielded Wire
invention that would reduce the number of downed wires and subsequent
blackouts during storms. Congratulations to these young inventors!
• The spelling bee final sponsored by the Junior Woman’s Club of
Westfield was won by Mira Mehta, a fourth-grader at Wilson Elementary
School. More than 100 students participated. Taking second place at the
competition held January 28 at Westfield High School was Abbey Zidel, a
Jefferson School fifth-grader, while third place was earned by Jake White,
who is in fifth grade at Washington School. The runner-up, coming in
fourth, was Maxwell Switlyk, a fifth-grader at Franklin School.
• Franklin Elementary School Nurse, Robin Ince, has been selected as a
2013 Woman of Excellence in the field of Health Education in Union County.
The award recognizes and honors annually women who reside and/or work in
Union County and have distinguished themselves by making major
contributions in their field. Robin began her career here in 2000 as a
substitute nurse and since 2001 has been a School Nurse/Health Educator at
Franklin School. She is a strong advocate in anti-smoking campaigns in the
schools, with her students receiving awards at the state and national level
for annual Tar Wars Poster contests. We congratulate Mrs. Ince.
• Efforts continue by our faculty and students who are aiding those
affected by Hurricane Sandy. In Monica Gundrum’s second grade class at
Tamaques School, students raised $545 in the Give a Hand, Wear a Band
bracelet sale for the Hurricane Sandy New Jersey Relief Fund.
• The WHS Community Service Club served dinner to approximately 150
individuals at St. Paul's United Methodist Church in Bay Head on Jan. 25
and again on Feb. 15. They also sat with children and adults and talked
with them at length as dinner was served. According to WHS Community
Service Club Advisor, “Our students were incredible.” The service club
also is going to deliver meals and toiletries to homeless individuals and
other families in need in Newark on Feb. 23 and March 16 through our work
with Bridges Outreach.
• On Jan 27, the Boys and Girls Swim Teams both earned the Union County
Championships. Senior Ellie Reinhardt, Juniors Sarah Cronin and Caroline
Baldwin and Freshman Gwyn Devin broke the County and Westfield High School
records for the 200 yard freestyle relay. On February 19, both the Girls
and Boys Swim Teams competed for the State Semi Final and won! They will
swim for the State title on Saturday on The College of New Jersey.
• Peter Fagin tied the Group 4 State Indoor Track Meet Record with a 15
foot pole vault height to win the State Title on Saturday, February 16.
This is also a school indoor record.
• Last week, four Westfield High School student/athletes signed letters
of intent to perspective colleges and universities. They include: Meghan
Reilly - Javelin, Lehigh University; Jake Heroux -Boys Soccer, Loyola;
Shane Kronick - Boys Soccer, Penn State; and Henry Smith - Boys Soccer,
NEXT BOARD OF EDUCATION MEETING will be held Tuesday, March 5, at 7:30 PM
at 302 Elm Street. We will continue our discussion of the 2013-2014 school
Margaret Dolan, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools