Westfield Board of Education Meeting Addresses New School Year

From left to right: Dana Sullivan, Lucy Biegler, Mitchell Slater, Ginny Leiz, Margaret Dolan Credits: Alexandria Addesso
from right to left: Matgaret Dolan, Richard Mattessich, Rosanne Kurstedt, Ann Cary, Mark Friedman, Gretchan Ohlig Credits: Alexandria Addesso
Credits: Alexandria Addesso
Credits: Alexandria Addesso

WESTFIELD, NJ - The 2013-2014 Westfield Public School goals as well as the new system of the school board approving all school field-trips were among topics discussed at the Board of Education Meeting on Sept. 17.

“Tonight the focus is on the district goals,” said Superintendent Dr. Margaret Dolan.

During the presentation on the 2013-2014 district-wide goals, implementing the Marshall Teacher Evaluation Model effectively was the first goal as well as the most discussed.

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“It’s a brand new system,” said Dolan, “very different from our old one.”

The Marshall Teacher Evaluation System revolves around the six domains that cover a teacher’s performance; classroom management, delivery of instruction, monitoring, assessment, and follow-up, family and community outreach and professional responsibilities. The district  manual and website will be developing requirements of the evaluation system and providing supportive resources. Out of district training sessions on refining the model will be provided until May 2014 as well as collaborative meetings with the Milburn and Summit school districts, who are also using the model.

“We want to make sure that everyone is using the model the same way,” said Dolan.

The second goal for the 2013-2014 school year is to develop and use benchmark assessments to measure the growth of student performance. This goal will be carried out by establishing student growth targets, tracking student progress and adjusting instruction accordingly then reviewing the results to determine attainment levels. Professional development regarding student goals for teachers in grade level and department meetings will also be provided.

The third goal discussed is to implement new digital tools and media to improve communication between the school district and all stakeholders as called for in Westfield’s Strategic Plan. This includes selecting a new website provider with off-site hosting and social media capabilities. Dolan explained how this move to an off-site hosting provider would keep the district website from going down in the event of a mass power outage like that during Superstorm Sandy.

“Anyone who had power was not able to view our website,” said Dolan, “which was here and we had no power.”

Many teachers have volunteered to work on the website. Systematic training for over staff 500 staff members is being implemented as part of the goal.

Starting this school year the Board will be approving all field-trips at the beginning of the year unless a trip is added later in the year in which case the Board will have to approve it then. About 19 pages of trips were approved at the meeting.

“I’d love to see more historic trips,” said Board member Mitchell Slater.

Slater suggested Gettysburg, Philadelphia and the Holocaust Museum among many other historic locations in the Northeast.

The bond referendum for the new roofs on various Westfield School district buildings was also discussed. The Board again reiterated its support for the passing of the referendum that will be on the ballot in November and if approved by voters will release a $2.7 million grant towards the project. If the referendum is not voted in the work will still get done but will instead get paid for by a tax levy.

“I would prefer to pay less in taxes,” said president Richard Mattessich, “while getting the work done.”

Completion of the roofs for Roosevelt Intermediate and Washington Middle School is expected to be finished by the end of September. Westfield High School’s roof is expected to be finished by mid-November.

A resolution binding the Board to purchase electric generation services through the alliance for competitive energy services was approved at the meeting. The district has the effective period, which is from the time it got approved up until May 2018, to take bids on electric generation services from on behalf of the ACES Cooperative Pricing System.

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