Important Information from the Westfield Board of Education
Saturday, October 12, 2013 • 11:21am
Synopsis of October 1 Board of Ed Mtg:
Last May we conducted an online student survey that focused on students in
grades 5, 8, and 10, as well as parents and faculty of students in those
grades. We received responses from 150 parents, 200 teachers, 373 fifth
graders, 386 eighth graders, and 366 tenth graders. Online surveys such as
these are very efficient and we are able to determine if a response is
“always, sometimes, etc.,” but we don’t know the “why” behind
these answers. We have to dig deeper to do that, and we are investigating
some of the responses. In each of our schools there is a School Safety
Team and they are analyzing the results. The teams are also comparing
discipline reports from last year as well as Harassment, Bullying and
Intimidation (HIB) reports to the survey responses. I provided a summary
to the Board, including for example, the number of responses that
demonstrate that teachers, parents and students feel that our schools are
safe. There were several responses dealing with respect, and that is a
topic to which we have been giving a great deal of attention. We also
continue our efforts in discouraging misuse of social media. Two recent
examples include the September 9th student meetings at Westfield High
School. The administrators gave expectations to guide students on
appropriate use of the internet. The second example occurred on September
30, when both of our intermediate schools invited parents to hear from John
Halligan, whose son Ryan committed suicide after continued cruel incidents
of cyber-bullying. These two efforts – with administrators, students and
parents -- were initiated at the beginning of the year as a result of some
of what we gleaned from the survey.
Last year we undertook several trainings and programs for staff, parents
and students to encourage respect in and out of school. We continue to
address challenges and always reflect on the purpose of our mission
statement, as we prepare students “. . . through educational programs
that respect individual differences and diversity.”
Board members made some recommendations regarding the frequency of future
surveys, additional questions that could be asked, and resources that could
be made available.
Business Administrator Dana Sullivan reported that the demolition of the
High School roof and installation of the base sheet is complete.
Installation of the cap sheet will be done by Oct 18th, weather permitting.
Installation of metal work will be finished by the end of November. At
Roosevelt and Washington, the base sheet and cap sheet are fully installed.
Metal is ordered and will be finished in about 5 days once metal is
The Board approved for second reading the following policies: 0168 –
Recording Board Meeting; 2464 – Programs for Gifted Pupils; 5516 –
Students’ Use of Personal Technology; and 9713 – Recruitment by Special
Interest Groups. WHS Assistant Principals Mary Asfendis and Jim DeSarno
reported on the use of cell phones by students at the High School. They
are used at the discretion of teachers for educational purposes. During
students’ free periods, the phones also can be used in designated rooms.
If students abuse this privilege, the phones are taken away from them. Mr.
DeSarno said that when this has occurred, there were no repeat offenders.
CURRICULUM, INSTRUCTION & PROGRAM
The Board approved two field trips for students – for Girls Learn
International to the United Nations and for WHS students to be on a NJSBA
Conference panel to discuss utilizing technology in the classroom.
The Board accepted a gift of $7,500 from Mr. and Mrs. Phillips to Edison
Intermediate School, for the purchase of technology equipment specifically
within the Gifted classroom.
Ginny Leiz attended the September 19th Parent Teacher Council’s general
meeting. She reported that Assistant Superintendent Paul Pineiro and
Master Technology teachers Jeanine Gottko and Adam Pizzi asked for feedback
for the new website that will be launched next year. At the same meeting,
Business Administrator Dana Sullivan gave an update on the replacement bond
referendum scheduled for November 5th. For more information on the
November replacement bond, go to www.westfieldnjk12.org/novbond
Westfield residents will have the opportunity to reduce their tax
obligation on the roof project bond that was approved by voters on December
12, 2012. The State has approved our application for $2.7 million in
construction aid on the school roof work planned for next summer. This
newly released aid means that the result will be a $2.7 million reduction
in taxes over the life of the bond. The State requires the approval by
voters of this grant, which will appear in the form of a replacement bond
referendum on November 5, 2013. If the new replacement bond is NOT
approved by Westfield voters on November 5, Westfield will lose the $2.7
million grant for the roofing work. Then the previously passed referendum
(December 2012) will remain in effect. The roofs will still be repaired --
but without state aid and without a reduction in the tax levy. For more
information on the November replacement bond, please check
www.westfieldnjk12.org/novbond. There is also information about voter
registration and voting by mail.
WESTFIELD HIGH SCHOOL
Andrew Zale, 11th grader at Westfield High School, is one of 25 finalists
among 2,000 middle and high school students in New Jersey who participated
in the 2013 Mahatma Gandhi Art and Writing Contest sponsored by the
Association of Indians in America, South Jersey Chapter. The purpose of
the contest is to raise awareness of non-violence, racial harmony and
peace. The contest’s theme, “An Eye for an Eye Makes the Whole World
Blind,” prompted Andrew to draw upon a personal incident in his life
where his own restraint prevailed. The incident is described in his poem
entitled “The Gift after the Curse.” Andrew has been writing poetry
since fifth grade. It became of greater interest to him in seventh grade
at Edison Intermediate School, where he said his teacher, Mr. Lazarow,
invested a lot of time in conveying themes. Andrew also is in the
Journalism program at Westfield High School. We wish Andrew continued
success and pleasure in his writing endeavors.
Westfield High School students have achieved 28 perfect scores in May and
June on SAT and ACT standardized tests widely used for college admission
criteria. They include: Ben Isenberg – Molecular Biology; Shea
Fitzpatrick – Writing; Mark Gillespie – US History and Chemistry; David
Gruskin – US History & Reading; Lucia Liu – Molecular Biology, Math &
Writing; Nicholas Mennora – Math 2; and Jill Rosenfeld – US History;
Alexa Derman – Writing; Philip Edwards – Math 2; Rachel Fan – Math 2
and Math; Edwin Gee – Math 2; Kristin Hauge – Chemistry; and Clare Lee
– Math 2; Jason Liu – Math 2; Griffin Mooney – Math 2; Matthew Nuzzo
- Math 2; Thomas Pyle – Math 2; Andrew Stockwell – Math 2; Samuel
Sokolin – Math 2; Dara Tucker – Math 2; Alexandra Mossawir – Reading
and Writing; and Fraser Weist – ACT (English, mathematics, reading and
science composite score). Principal, Peter Renwick, personally commended
each student for outstanding achievement, stating “It speaks volumes
about your abilities and your commitment to education.”
For many years, Westfield High School has hosted Girls Learn International,
a club which actually began here through the inspiration of former Board
member Lisa Alter. It has since been embraced by Social Studies teacher
Karen Lust. Girls Learn International educates and energizes U.S. students
in the global movement for girls’ access to education. It pairs Chapters
in U.S. middle schools and high schools with Partner Schools in countries
where girls still lag behind boys in access to education and where girls
are far less likely than boys to stay in school past the primary grades. An
anthology entitled "Stand Up" was published and just recently released. It
focuses on the experiences of young human rights advocates and includes a
personal narrative about Girls Learn International written by Westfield
student, Isabella Gelfand. It is called "Luck of the Draw." The link to
the blog where you can read her story is at
The Athletic Department announces that the class of 2013 has 31
student/athletes projected to compete at the collegiate level. This is
6.88% of the class of 2013. The national average of graduating seniors who
participate in collegiate athletics is 2.0%. This is very impressive.
Congratulations to our student/athlete graduates.
Westfield Public Schools will be closed for classes on Monday, October 13,
in observance of Columbus Day.
NEXT BOARD OF EDUCATION MEETING - Tuesday, October 15.