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Westfield — Letters to the Editor

Synopsis of Board of Education Meeting of Nov. 27

Margaret Dolan

Friday, November 30, 2012 • 1:41pm

FACILITIES
An updated report on the December 11 Bond Referendum was presented by
Business Administrator, Dana Sullivan, which included the following
information:
•       The State provides school districts with the ability to issue bonds to
fund capital projects. Historically, NJ has provided state aid for capital
projects. However, funding has not been given for capital projects for the
past few years.
•       The bond is estimated to impact the average Westfield homeowner by $31
in 2013, decreasing in subsequent years as the district’s bonds mature.
•       The Board has discussed the condition of the roofs, the necessary
repairs and replacements, and the roofing bond in 11 public Board of
Education meetings.
•       If the bond passes, the district will authorize the architect to
prepare bid specifications for the high school roof and two other schools
for completion in the summer of 2013. All other roofs will be completed in
the summer of 2014.
•       If the bond fails, $4 million will be reallocated from the operating
budget for each of the next 3 or 4 years to complete the roof replacements.
 If this were to occur, the operating budget – which is subject to a cap
by the State – would not be able to sustain the educational and
co-curricular offerings that now exist. Every curricular and co-curricular
program will be looked at for cuts. The likely impact would be:

o       Increased class size at the elementary, intermediate and high school
levels
o       Approximately 50 positions will be eliminated – most of those would be
teachers who represent the majority of existing positions
o       Reductions in fine arts performances (High School and Middle School
plays), drama, art and music classes and programs
o       Decreases in counselors, librarians, technology staff, secretaries, and
custodians
o       Reduction in electives, the number of sports offered and the levels of
teams
o       Postponement of technology initiative, STEM commitment and facilities
improvements

Board President, Richard Mattessich, reminded the public that the bond
referendum will be held on Tuesday, December 11.  Additional information
and presentations are available at www.westfieldnjk12.org/roofbond.


POLICIES
The Board approved additional changes to the 2012-2013 calendar to allow
for contingencies in the event of more closures due to weather.  These
include 3 “snow” days made possible by extending the school year in
June.  I do not think it is beneficial to remove days from spring break,
since there are two religious holidays that week that are observed, and
removing the other 3 days would result in 5 months of time without a break
from January 2nd and Memorial Day.  There are not many options; therefore
the approved changes, with the 3 new snow days, are as follows:
•       Grades 6 – 12 – Last day of school will be Tuesday, June 25, 2013

•       Grades K – 5 – Last day of school will be Wednesday, June 26, 2013
(these grades have one additional day to make up since they did not attend
school on November 8).
•       WHS Graduation will be Tuesday, June 25, 2013.
•       Any UNUSED snow days will be SUBTRACTED at the end of the year, but
Westfield High School Graduation will remain on June 25.
As reported at the November 13 Board of Education meeting, other changes
to the calendar include:
•       A 4-hour session on Monday, January 21, the commemoration of the
birthday of Martin Luther King Jr.  This will enable students to
participate in the town’s annual celebration, which begins at 1 PM,
arranged by the Martin Luther King Jr. Association of Westfield.  A 4-hour
session qualifies as a complete school day.
•       A full day of school on Monday, February 18, designated as
President’s Day.

The Board approved the Uniform State Memorandum of Agreement between
Education and Law Enforcement Officials for the 2012-2013 school year.

The Board affirmed my decision on an HIB investigation.


RECOGNIZING THE WESTFIELD HIGH SCHOOL MARCHING BAND
The Board recognized the many achievements of the WHS Marching Band, which
has concluded the 2012 season with great distinction.  The accomplishments
included a most recent competition
in the A-Class Nationals in Annapolis, Maryland where they placed 20th
overall out of 49 bands around the country. I urge you to visit the WHS
Marching Band website to hear the remarks that were made by one of the
judges at the Annapolis competition.  Clearly, our students made an
excellent and stirring impression. In the New Jersey State Championships
they were awarded 8th place out of a total of 69 bands.  And in their group
competition, they came in 4th, also winning for Best Percussion.  A special
Cadets Award of Excellence was presented to the band in recognition of
their creativity, performance and overall effect. Only 6 are awarded in the
entire state.  In earlier regional competitions, the Marching Band placed
first in their group in the East Brunswick and Hillsborough competitions.
In these as well as the Piscataway competition, they also received special
awards for being Best in Music, Visual, Percussion and Overall Effect. The
Westfield Board of Education is very proud of these students, who through
hard work and many hours of practice, were recognized for their superior
achievements.  The members of the Westfield Marching Band are: (Seniors)
Michael Aronson, Rob Cassie, Jonathan Clancy, Andrew Dougert, Maria
Hershey, Liam Keller, Barrie Knapp, Zoe Korunow, Jeffrey Marino, Eric
Mikalauskas, Annalyn Tanella, and Alex Ying; (Juniors) Geneva Gleason,
David Gruskin, Samuel Krause, and Matthew Nuzzo.  Certificates of
congratulations were presented to the student leaders who were in
attendance at the Board meeting and for future distribution to the other
members by Band Director Chris Vitale and Assistant Director James Doyle.



CURRICULUM, INSTRUCTION & PROGRAMS
The Board approved for second reading:  World Language curricula:  Italian
I, II, and IV.
FINANCE
The Board approved gifts from the Westfield Coalition for the Arts as
follows:
$1250 for the purchase of ½ size String Bass, German Bow, and carrying
case for smaller elementary students, and a $250 grant allowing a music
arranger from RMC Studios to write arrangements of popular music for
elementary string orchestra students.
In
UNFINISHED BUSINESS
After the Storm --
As discussed last week, we have spent time looking at lessons learned from
Hurricane Sandy and have been working to prepare for the next storm –
even while understanding that the next storm will provide different
challenges. Facilities Committee discussed the need for generators and will
have a follow-up meeting regarding this. Administrators have begun
organizing additional staff contact information for when phones and
internet are down. When the Policies Committee looks to the next calendar,
we will look to include 4 snow days. The Honeywell alert system worked well
for those parents and staff members who had signed up several devices.  We
have communicated with parents and staff suggesting that they register
their home and cell phones for voice mail and texts, as well as e-mail
addresses. At the Ad Hoc Technology Committee we also spoke about how
effective Twitter turned out to be during the storm aftermath.  We have now
established a Twitter account: westfieldnjk12.  It can be used as an
additional way to communicate with members of the public. The Ad Hoc
technology committee also discussed redundancies for technology and the off
-site storage of data.  All of our schools and our administration building
are involved in efforts to help those who have been seriously affected by
Hurricane Sandy.  While fundraising and organizing is still evolving,
already some inroads have been made. Many of our own staff members have
been displaced as a result of the storm, and we have individually and as
groups, reached out a helping hand. We also are reaching out to help our
neighbors here in Westfield.  Our elementary schools are fundraising for
the United Fund of Westfield’s Sandy Relief.  And not too far beyond our
own town, there are schools in the shore area that have been adopted by
McKinley, Roosevelt, Edison and Westfield High School. More specifics about
these and other activities will become available through our schools’
websites, the Parent Teacher Organizations and Student Government
associations.

AD HOC COMMITTEES
Mitch Slater, Chair of the Ad Hoc Technology Committee reported that the
Master Technology teachers have been busy assisting teachers at all levels,
have created web logs and are facilitating an idea exchange with additional
workshops also offered during lunch, prep periods and after school.


LIAISON REPORTS
Gretchan Ohlig attended the Westfield Memorial Library Board meeting, at
which it was made clear that the suggestions made by our Curriculum
Department proved to be helpful for students, as books appropriate for
reading levels were recommended.  Mrs. Ohlig stated this was a good joint
effort.

Mrs. Ohlig and Ginny Leiz attended the general membership meeting of the
Parent Teacher Council.  A major part of the meeting involved discussion
about the bond .

ANNOUNCEMENTS


ATHLETICS
Congratulations to Westfield High School’s Gymnastics team and Boys
Cross Country Team who both placed 2nd in their Group’s state sectional
competitions. Kudos to the following students who have committed to attend
Colleges and Universities as student athletes in the Fall of 2013. The
Girls Lacrosse players include:  Mariah Baker who will attend the
University of Cincinnati; Courtney Weisse attending Dartmouth College; and
Elizabeth Cusick who has been accepted to Stanford University. Boys
Lacrosse players include: Matthew Webb who will attend Lafayette College,
and  Christian Burgdorf, who is going to the University of Denver.
Alexandra Borr has signed her intent to play girls tennis at Boston
College. Also, we just learned today that Caroline Baldwin, a junior on the
girls swimming team was awarded “Scholastic All-American” by USA
Swimming, a national scholastic governing organization.

FINE ARTS
The Westfield High School performance of the comedy, "A Little Hotel on
the Side" will be performed Thursday, November 29 , at 4 PM; Friday,
November 30, at 7:30 PM, and Saturday, December 1, at 7:30 PM. Come enjoy
the show and support our talented cast and crew! Also, winter concerts
begin December 5 with the Westfield High School band, and end December 21.
Look for the schedule on the Fine Arts and district website.

UNICO awards
Congratulations to Westfield High School Senior Jeff Marino and Sophomore
Jason Previlon who won the annual UNICO essay contest, which highlights the
accomplishments of Italian Americans.  Jeff wrote about Enrico Fermi, who
won a Nobel Prize in Physics in 1937.  Jason’s essay focused on Frank
Sinatra, who received over 20 musical awards in his career and many
humanitarian honors as well.

INTERMEDIATE
A rescheduled Veteran’s Day Ceremony was held at Roosevelt Intermediate
School on November 19.  Music was provided by the Sharps and Flats, the 8th
Grade Chorus, and the Eighth Grade Band.  Students Alexandra Jackman, Evan
Gruters, and Abby Rothenberg addressed the student body and guests,
describing what Veterans Day meant to them.  Social Studies Teacher, Brian
Vieth, presented the Heroes Among Us Award to guest speaker and Veteran
Patrick Boyer.  Mr. Boyer credited his decision to enter the military to
his seventh grade teacher, a veteran who provided him with inspiration.

EDUCATION FUND
Members of the Education Fund of Westfield have written a book, Caps Off
to Westfield’s Blue Devil, that highlights each Westfield Public school
through a story about Blue Devil, our town’s mascot. A perfect gift for
the holidays, it is for sale at $15 from the Ed Fund.  Requests can be made
to edfund@westfieldnj.com


ELEMENTARY
Tamaques School is a nominee and is eligible to win up to $50,000 in
funding for the school’s garden and outdoor classroom through a grant
from the Clorox Company.  Grants will be awarded in one of two ways:
Tamaques asks friends in Westfield to consider voting for the school, since
the nominee that receives the highest number of votes will receive the
$50,000 grand prize.  A panel of judges will also award $25,000 grants to
three schools based on merit. You may vote for Tamaques by either going
online at www.PowerABrightFuture.com or by texting 1029pbf to 95248.


NEXT BOARD OF EDUCATION MEETING – will be held Tuesday, December 11,
during which time we will report on the outcome of the bond referendum.


Please remember that the bond referendum vote for the roof replacements
and repairs on all of our buildings will take place on Tuesday, December
11.  Polls will be open from 7 AM to 9 PM.  Information about the bond is
available at www.westfieldnjk12.org/roofbond.  Thank you!

Margaret Dolan, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools

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