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Presentations on Advances in Fine Arts Department and Budget Discussed at Westfield Board of Education Meeting

Alexandria Addesso

Wednesday, February 20, 2013 • 3:26pm

WESTFIELD, NJ--New ways to measure student growth in the visual and performing arts, as well as the proposed 2013-2014 budget, were discussed at Westfield’s Board of Education meeting Feb. 19.

A presentation on curriculum mapping--a process for collecting and recording curriculum related data--was given by Linda King, the supervisor of the fine arts department and former president of the New Jersey Administrators Association. King emphasized the necessity of using the Kim Marshall rubrics to evaluate teachers and the progress of students in fine art classes. The Kim Marshall rubrics target the six domains covering all aspects of a teacher’s job performance: planning and preparation for learning; classroom management; delivery of instruction; monitoring assessment and follow-up; family and community outreach; and professional responsibilities.
 
King touched upon many elementary-level music programs. Instrumental instruction is being introduced as early as first grade and smart boards as well as iPads are being utilized to teach students with programs such as Zondle and BrainPop .
 
“I’m blown away with everything you came up with,” said board member Lucy Biegler. “It was really thinking out of the box.”
 
A presentation on the preliminary budget for the 2013-2014 school year was also given. The total proposed budget adjusted per state guidelines as of Feb. 1  is $96,402,166, not yet including all items.
 
“This is a budget reflecting a two percent increase,” said the business administrator Dana Sullivan in reference to the percentage of the total budget paid for by state aid.
 
The state aid provided to Westfield schools was on the decline from the late eighties, when it was about 11 to 12 percent, until 2010, when it dropped to two percent. It stayed at four percent for the past two years until it reached six percent for the 2013-2014 school year. 
 
Salaries and benefits made up 80 percent of the budget distribution; eight percent towards out-of-district tuition; five percent for supplies, materials and equipment; and four percent for transportation insurance, professional development and communication. 
 
Priorities of the budget included enrollment needs, security, special education, STEM programs and class size.
 
“Class size continues to be a priority,” said Sullivan. “Our commitment is to keep class size as small as possible or at least to keep class size from increasing.”
 
The tentative budget will be recognized by the county at a public board meeting on March 7 and the final budget will be adopted at a public hearing on March 21.
 
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