It is an exciting time of the school year, as 6,250 Westfield students embark on a new year of learning. My children, Elizabeth and Caroline, bid a fond farewell to McKinley School in June and opened a new door of learning at Edison Intermediate School this past week.

As parents, we also should be excited for the future of our children. In the most recent state ranking by New Jersey Monthly magazine, Westfield High School rose to the 21st spot on the list, a dramatic increase from 49th when the magazine ranked high schools two years ago. The performance increase is attributed to new academic data points for SAT performance and the percentage of students enrolled in college.

Previously, the average SAT score was used to calculate the ranking. The Department of Education benchmark now associates the “high likelihood of college success with the percentage of students scoring 1,550 or higher on the SAT.” At Westfield High School, 71.8 percent of students surpassed that benchmark – 20th best in the state.

Sign Up for E-News

The state also tracks the post-secondary enrollment rate, which is defined as the percentage of students enrolled in two or four-year colleges for 16 months after high school graduation. Eighty-nine percent of Westfield High School students were enrolled in college after 16 months.

While we should be pleased with these accomplishments, we have to determine how we can continue to expand our academic, athletic and special needs programs to ensure that our children stay competitive and relevant in a constantly changing economic and technological environment.

We can no longer expect the Westfield taxpayer to continue to fund these programs solely through tax increases. The Board of Education has already started investigating options to address our long-term financial needs. Programs that I am recommending to consider include:

  • Identifying and developing new policies for facility rentals, advertising and licensing to generate new revenue streams;
  • Developing a Westfield alumni fund to allow previous graduates to “Give Back to Westfield” by improving facilities and expanding programs;
  • Promoting the use of corporate initiatives, such as Amazon Smiles and Target Take Charge of Education, beyond the school walls to allow the whole community to generate revenue for the schools; and
  • Partnering with the Educational Fund of Westfield to fund specific facility and program initiatives.

There is a lot of work to do to get policies developed and programs off the ground, all while maintaining fiscal prudence. I would be privileged to have your support to serve on the Board of Education on behalf of all the residents of Westfield. Please vote for me on Tuesday, November 4th. If you have any questions or suggestions, please email at mike@bielen.net.

Thank you.
 

Michael Bielen
Candidate, Westfield Board of Education