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Westfield — Letters to the Editor

Important Information from the Westfield Board of Education

Margaret Dolan, Ed.D. Superintendent of Schools

Wednesday, December 11, 2013 • 7:45pm

Synopsis of a Westfield Board of Education meeting on December 10, 2013

AUDIT REPORT
The Board accepted the annual audit of the 2012-2013 school year prepared
by Hodulik and Morrison, P.A.   Auditor Bob Morrison reported that the
Westfield Public School District’s accounting practices are in full
compliance and that our financial information is accurate and consistent in
application according to rules of the State and accounting standards. The
data was found reliable. His staff spent weeks in the district testing
internal controls and procedures in addition to our compliance with federal
grants. He confirmed that the district’s internal controls are operating
effectively and designed appropriately. His firm issued a clean report,
with no non-compliance issues.  He complimented the Business Office saying
there are no audit adjustments needed.  He had no findings or
recommendations, no need for corrective action, and thanked the cooperation
of the Business Office staff.

SPECIAL EDUCATION REPORT
Michael Weissman, Assistant Superintendent of Pupil Personnel Services,
presented an Overview of Special Education services in the district. He
introduced his presentation with an inspirational video of a Smithfield,
Rhode Island High School salutatorian who, despite severe challenges with
autism, proved that hard work, determination, and a lot of support resulted
in a successful academic career culminating with several college
acceptances.


Dr. Weissman stressed that communication is the window to leading a
productive life.  He echoed the words of the Smithfield salutatorian who
said, “People with disabilities should not be defined by their
limitations, but by their abilities.”  He presented historical and
current data on special education enrollments in the district, which tend
to be similar or slightly higher than state averages.  Adhering to the
Special Education Administrative Code, the district aims to place students
in the least restrictive environments.  The types of services, beginning
with the least restrictive are:  General Education with support in all
schools; Resource Room programs in all schools; Specialized Resource
programs; Special Classes (Self-Contained); and Separate private
Schools/Residential.

Noting that he is extremely proud of the continuing efforts to serve
autistic students within the district in grades PreK- 5, Dr. Weissman
explained that considerable professional development is provided to
teachers and paraprofessionals to support the students and their families.
He foresees the need for the expansion of Leaps and Bounds (the autism
program) to continue to meet the learning needs and challenges of our
student population with Autistic Spectrum Disorder.

With the success of clinical/counseling support in the intermediate
schools, we are considering this at the high school level as a support
structure for students who can be dealing with stress, depression, and
other issues.

Dr. Weissman expects that curriculum modifications will be made to keep
pace with the new Common Core Standards.  The State has indicated that
recommendations will be forthcoming.

POLICIES

The Board approved for second reading the following policies:  0151 -
Organization Meeting; 0172 - Duties of Treasurer of School Monies
(abolished);  0173 - Duties of Public School Accountant; 1110 -
Organizational Chart; 1240 - Superintendent Evaluation; 1320 - Duties of
Business Administrator/Board Secretary; 2110 – Mission Statement; 2132
– School District Objectives; 2312 -Class Size; 2340 - School Trips; 2530
- Selection of Resource Materials;  3221 - Evaluation of Teachers; 3223 -
Evaluation of Administrators; 3270 - Professional Responsibilities; 4146
– Non-renew of Non-tenured Support Staff Employment Contracts; 5200 –
Attendance; 5460 - High School Graduation; 6470 - Payment of Claims; 6471 -
School District Travel; 6810 - Financial Objectives; 6820 - Financial
Reports; 8660 - Transportation by Private Vehicle; and 8740 - Bonding.
The Board affirmed my decision on an HIB incident.

CURRICULUM, INSTRUCTION & PROGRAMS

The Board approved the Corrective Action Plan for the Consolidated
Monitoring Report issued on November 8, 2013.  Dana Sullivan, Business
Administrator, noted that these changes represent document revisions and
incur no financial penalties.


The Board approved for second reading the following revised Language Arts
curricula with bridge documents to align with the Core Curriculum
Standards: Intermediate School Language Arts - Language Arts Grade 6, 7 and
8.  High School Language Arts - English I Applications; English I, II, III,
IV; English Honors II, III; Language and Composition - AP; and Literature
and Composition - AP.

FINANCE

The Board approved tuition for the Kindergarten Wrap Around Program at
Lincoln School for the 2014-2015 school year in the amount of $3,500 per
year for the program.

LIAISON REPORTS

Gretchan Ohlig reported on her attendance at the PTC/PTO Presidents’
meeting, at which the revised calendar for the 2014-2015 was discussed.
The Board’s final reading of the calendar is scheduled for January 7.
Any comments/questions can be addressed to wboe@westfieldnjk12.org.
Rosanne Kurstedt attended the Roosevelt Intermediate School PTO meeting on
December 10.

RECOGNIZE THE PUBLIC
A High School parent, who had served on the Balance Committee at WHS,
recommended that when the Board adopts a revised homework policy, it should
be fully communicated to parents, teachers and students through many
channels, including the website, parent newsletters, newspapers, department
meetings, and orientations.

ANNOUNCEMENTS

KINDERGARTEN & FIRST GRADE REGISTRATION
Kindergarten and First Grade registration for the 2014-2015 school year
will be held in January.  Kindergarten registration begins January 8 for
all children who are residents of Westfield reaching the age of 5 on or
before October 1, 2014. Several dates have been set aside for kindergarten
registration, which will be held at Lincoln School, 728 Westfield Avenue.

First Grade registration will take place for all children who are residents
of Westfield reaching the age of 6 on or before October 1, 2014 and have
not yet attended the Westfield Public Schools.

Appointments for kindergarten and first grade registration must be made in
advance.  More information, including phone numbers of schools and required
forms are posted on www.westfieldnjk12.org.


CONCERT CHANGES
Due to weather conditions, the following concert changes have been
announced:
•       The December 10 Roosevelt Intermediate School Concert has been
rescheduled to Tuesday, December 17, at 7 PM;
•       The Edison Intermediate Concert originally scheduled for December 10
will be held Wednesday, December 11, at 7:45 PM.
•       The Northside Elementary Strings Concert originally scheduled at Edison
Intermediate School for December 11 has been moved to Roosevelt
Intermediate School – same date, same time – December 11 at 7 PM.
A complete list of Westfield Public School concerts is posted at
www.westfieldnjk12.org.  A reminder – we invite senior citizens to attend
the Wednesday, December 18th final rehearsal of the Westfield High School
winter concert at 11:45 AM. Holiday and classical selections will be
performed by the Westfield High School choral groups and symphony
orchestra.  There is no admission fee.


TECHNOLOGY
Franklin, Tamaques and Wilson Elementary Schools are joining a massive
campaign kicked off during Computer Science Education Week -- December 9 -
15 -- to encourage students to participate in the Hour of Code.  Code.org
is launching the celebration which is geared to promote interest in the
field of technology and help nurture creativity and problem solving skills.
 Hour of Code workshops planned by our schools – both during and after
school this week or next -- will enable students to complete their hour of
basic training by writing a computer program. The students are meant to
create - and not just consume - software technology.  To continue the
learning, Franklin School will launch an after-school “Code Club” for
fifth graders in January that aims to further demystify computer science
and show students that coding is fun, collaborative, and creative.


WESTFIELD HIGH SCHOOL
•       A total of 162 Westfield High School students earned AP Scholar awards
in recognition of their college level achievement through Advanced
Placement courses and exams.  These students averaged 4.33 on their AP
tests, with a score of 5 being the absolute highest on a scale of 1 to 5.
Six students qualified for the prestigious National AP Scholar Award, which
is granted to students in the United States who receive an average score of
at least 4 on all AP exams taken, and scores of 4 or higher on eight or
more of these exams.   The Westfield High School seniors receiving the
National AP Scholar Award include:  Matthew Gates, Edmund Han, Geoffrey Ko,
Adam Lupicki, Michaela Nies, and Benjamin Schwartz.  For more information
on the awards of all 162 students, please visit www.westfieldnjk12.org
“In the News.”

•       Eight Westfield High School students have achieved perfect scores in
recent standardized tests widely used for college admission criteria.  They
include: Shea Fitzpatrick – SAT Writing; Lily Wang – SAT Writing;
Rachel Fan – SAT Math; Shawn Wu – SAT Math; David Gruskin – SAT
Reading; Fraser Weist – SAT Math 2; and Andrew Zale – SAT Writing, and
Nicole Devitt – ACT English, Math, Reading and Science. These test scores
are accepted by major colleges and universities and provide evidence of
student readiness for the academic rigors that lie ahead.

FINE ARTS
Congratulations to 6 Westfield High School students for being selected,
following a challenging audition process, into ALL STATE musical groups:
In the All State Mixed Chorus:  Kristin Hauge, Julian Mone, and Kim Roth.
In the All State Women’s Chorus- Katherine Ko and Melanie Snyder; and In
the All State Orchestra – Percussion – Alex DeFabio.

COMMUNITY AWARDS

Congratulations to Alex Jackman who received a proclamation from the Union
County Freeholders in recognition of her efforts related to autism
awareness. As you may recall, Alex presented a clip from her video at a
recent Board of Education meeting. On December 10th Alex was awarded the
ARC of NJ Youth in Action award. It is a new award that the ARC of NJ
created specifically for Alex based on her communication efforts related to
helping people with special needs.


ATHLETICS

USA TODAY announced that the Westfield/Plainfield football rivalry, which
has been in existence for more than 100 years, won the Best High School
Football Rivalry contest in the region. The two local teams received 42,013
votes to beat out their closest competitor by over 6,000 votes. Westfield
was victorious over Plainfield this Thanksgiving with a score of 34 –
0.To read more about the final round of the contest which begins December
11th, please check www.westfieldnjk12.org “In the News.”

SCHOOLS CLOSED
The Westfield Public Schools will be closed for Winter Break from December
21, 2013 through January 1, 2014.

NEXT BOARD OF EDUCATION MEETING will be held January 7, 2014.  At this
organization meeting Brendan Galligan, Ginny Leiz and Mitch Slater will be
sworn in as returning Board members.  Other organizational matters also
will be discussed and approved so that the Board can continue its work in
2014.

I wish everyone a happy holiday season and a healthy new year.

The opinions expressed herein are the writer's alone, and do not reflect the opinions of TAPinto.net or anyone who works for TAPinto.net. TAPinto.net is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the writer.

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