Letters to the Editor

Important Information from the Westfield Board of Education

Synopsis of a Westfield Board of Education Meeting -  May 21, 2013

TECHNOLOGY & STEM UPDATE

We have made many strides in implementing our technology initiative and
our STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) commitments in the
past year.  Paul Pineiro, Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and
Instruction, provided a Powerpoint presentation which demonstrated the
progress we have made in our “Walls to Windows” technology initiative
as well as in STEM. Highlights include:

Technology Initiative

•       Technology standards have been infused into all revised and new
curricula this year.
•       “Bring Your Own Device” protocols have been implemented in pilot
classrooms.
•       Ongoing commitments: Infrastructure enhancements to maximize on-demand
data delivery for instructional use including wireless network throughout
district; device refresh for the 2013-14 school year including 260 desktop
computers and 300 laptop computers; professional development; and providing
staffing needs.
•       Professional development continues throughout the year with over 7,000
hours devoted thus far in after-school and lunchtime offerings.
•       Information Systems Manager and Master Technology teachers (K-5 and
6-12) hired in 2012-2013 have been valuable additions to technology staff.
•       Twitter has been added as a continuing enhancement to communication.
•       State, national and local recognitions include:  National and State
School Board Associations awards; Tech Day presentations at a State
conference for school administrators; and Westfield Ed Fund recognition of
Master Technology Teacher at annual fundraiser.
•       Next steps for instructional technology include: Extended reach of
professional development in technology; provide more students with more
access to prepare them for college and careers; and train teachers in the
use of new web host platform (Sept – Dec 2013).

Mr. Pineiro explained that our commitment to the district’s technology
initiative enables us to prepare students to excel in the 21st century

STEM Initiative

•       2012-2013 Goal: To create awareness of the integrated nature of STEM.
o       Activities included: Summer orientation for administrators; summer unit
design training for STEM instruction; special events (e.g., STEM day) and
contests for students; and new curriculum to foster interest in STEM
careers.
o       Student recognitions included first place in international Smithsonian
invention contest and top awards in Science Olympiads.

•       2013-2014 Goal:  To continue infusing project-based STEM activities
Kindergarten through 12th grade.
o       Activities will include:  Summer STEM Camp for students grades 3 – 8;
design STEM units for kindergarten wrap-around program; establish and
increase data base of STEM activities and resources; showcase STEM
activities and careers during Engineering Week in March; and continue
student interest in hands-on learning.

PERSONNEL
•       The Board accepted with regret the retirement of Annamarie Kossler –
McKinley Resource Center Teacher – who has been serving the students at
McKinley for 20 years.  Her last day of employment will be June 30, 2013.
We wish her well in her retirement.
•       The Board approved the appointment of Margaret McFadden (replacing
Derrick Nelson, who begins his leave to serve in the Army Reserves) as
Westfield High School Interim Assistant Principal effective August 1, 2013.
Ms. McFadden has assumed this interim position before and has served us
well.

•       The Board approved the appointment of Maureen Mazzarese as Westfield
High School Director of Guidance effective July 1, 2013.  In announcing the
appointment, Board member Mark Friedman referred to Ms. Mazzarese’s
experience of more than 25 years; her warmth, compassion and devotion to
the children of Westfield; her determination to continually improve the
role of Guidance in our schools; and her excellent management skills.

FACILITIES
Business Administrator Dana Sullivan reported that roof work this summer
will begin on roofs over the gyms first so that they will be ready for use
in August.  Three school roofs will be replaced this summer -- at WHS,
Roosevelt and Washington – with work beginning on June 26.

POLICIES
•       The Board approved for second reading the following policy:  0131 –
Bylaws and Policies.

•       The Board affirmed my decision on five HIB investigations.

FINANCE
•       The Board approved implementation of the Kindergarten Wrap-Around
Program at Lincoln School for the 2013-2014 school year and approved the
tuition in the amount of $350 per month for the program.

•       The Board approved the withdrawal from the Maintenance Reserve account
to fund the following projects:
o       Architects Fee - Replacing Ceiling Lighting & Drop Ceiling in Main
Office of WHS:  $3,300
o       Asbestos abatement for Edison School boilers:  $34,800

LEGISLATION
The Board approved two resolutions presented by Ann Cary on behalf of the
Legislation Committee. First was the Resolution Opposing the Schools
Development Authority Assessments in the State Budget.

As Mrs. Cary reminded the Board, Westfield’s State Aid was increased by
one dollar for the coming year.  And, at the same time, $75,230 will be
deducted from our State Aid for a Schools Development Authority assessment.
 After accounting for Westfield’s increased assessment, our district will
experience a decrease in State Aid for Fiscal 2014 of $75,229.

Mrs. Cary clarified what Schools Development Authority assessments are for
the public.  They are fees that cover a portion of the principal and
interest on bonds used to fund construction grants that were floated by the
New Jersey Economic Development Authority, later called, the Schools
Development Authority.  The upfront grants covered up to 40 percent of
eligible construction costs in non-Abbott districts.  They were designed to
reduce the amount of money districts needed to borrow for facility projects
and, in the process, reduce the reliance on local property taxes for needed
construction and renovation of our facilities.  When we received these
grants it was with the understanding that they were grants, not loans to be
paid back at a future time.

Mrs. Cary stressed that the relationship between State taxes, State Aid
for school districts and local property taxes must be underscored --
taxpayers of Westfield pay more than $74 million in State taxes and will
get back this year approximately $2.8 million in State Aid for our schools
or  3% of our budget.  The Westfield public schools are almost entirely
paid for by Westfield property taxes.

The second resolution opposes Senate Bill 1191 and Assembly Bill 3960
which would undermine the Westfield Board of Education’s ability to
subcontract services.  A synopsis of the bill states that it, “Allows
establishment of county-wide purchasing systems for certain school district
services; offers employment protections for certain food or custodial
services employees; and regulates subcontracting by districts and public
higher education institutions.”

Our Board’s reason for opposing this bill is because currently the
district is guaranteed a yearly profit by our food vendor, Chartwells.  In
the coming school year we have been guaranteed a profit of $30,000 while
maintaining fair pricing for our students, and reinvesting that profit into
improved services for the students.  The bill would mandate our
participation in a county-wide contract for food services if Union County
were to establish a county-wide contract.  A county-wide contract may not
guarantee us a profit as our current vendor does.

According to the New Jersey School Board Association the bill has passed
the Senate and is very likely to pass the Assembly.  The Governor has said
that he has no intention of signing the bill but he is being pressured by
the NJEA to do so.  The New Jersey School Board Association feels that it
would be beneficial for us to show our opposition for the bill at this
time.


LIAISON REPORTS
Ginny Leiz reported that at the Union County Services Educational
Commission Board meeting, it was announced that a search is underway for a
new Superintendent, since the current Superintendent is leaving that post.


ANNOUNCEMENTS

WESTFIELD BOARD OF EDUCATION CANDIDATES DEADLINE:  JUNE 4

Westfield residents interested in becoming a Board of Education member for
a 3-year term (2013-2016) must file a petition in person in the Office of
the County Clerk at 2 Broad St., Room 113, Elizabeth, on or before 4 PM on
June 4, 2013.  The actual election will take place on Tuesday, November 5,
2013. The members whose terms are expiring on the Westfield Board of
Education include Ginny Leiz, Mitchell Slater and Brendan Galligan.  They
have not announced their intention of seeking re-election as of this date.
Questions can be referred to the Union County Election Supervisor, Lisa
Hugelmeyer, at 908-527-4996.  Information is available at the County
Clerk’s website at www.ucnj.org/ctyclerk.

WESTFIELD HIGH SCHOOL
Congratulations to 9 more Westfield High School seniors who achieved
perfect “800” scores on their SAT tests. They include: Math - Elizabeth
Gonzalez; Writing - Kristin Hauge, Clare Lee, Lily Wang, Nicole Devitt and
David Gruskin; Reading: Alexander Beals and Alexandra Mossawir; and Reading
and Writing - Mark Gillespie.

Hoops for Hope, an annual basketball clinic and fundraiser for the
Westfield Chapters of Girls Learn International was held again this Spring
at Westfield High School.  Girls Learn International (GLI) is a nonprofit
organization dedicated to promoting gender equality and literacy throughout
the world.  Nine members of the Westfield High School Basketball Team
conducted drills for girls in grades 4-8.  The WHS Team also spoke to the
girls about conditioning and how to avoid sports injuries, and they shared
their wisdom on the benefits of sports for girls.   Karen Lust, Roosevelt
Social Studies teacher and Westfield Schools’ volunteer advisor for GLI,
explained that all money raised will go toward literacy programs at
Abdulllah bin Omar School in Afghanistan, the partner school for the
Westfield Chapters of Girls Learn International for the past 5 years.
Members of the WHS Girls Basketball Team included Lizzie Ponce, Chrissy
Ferraro, Emily Schuman, Colleen Gallagher, Rachel Mattessich, Lillian
Scott, Carly Friedman, Jacqueline Knapp, and Caroline Kacmarsky. Members of
the WHS Chapter of Girls Learn International included Charlie O'Brien,
Cassie Teschner, Helen Sparrow, Isabella Gelfand, Aditi Jain, and Megan
Blutfield.

Congratulations to the 160 juniors and 10 seniors from Westfield High
School who were inducted into the National Honor Society on April 25th in
recognition of academic excellence, leadership, service and character.
Principal Peter Renwick and Les Jacobsen, NHS Advisor, awarded the students
with certificates and pins.  NHS officers at Westfield High School -- Rob
Cassie, Eric Oberman, Maria Hershey and Sophia Barry -- announced the newly
inducted members. The names of the 170 newly inducted National Honor
Society students are posted on the district’s website. Elected as
National Honor Society officers for the 2013-14 school year are Francis
Wong, Shea Fitzpatrick, Abigail Cook, Lauren Nogan and Natalie Brennan.

FINE ARTS
Congratulations to the cast and crew of the WHS performance of “Bat Boy:
The Musical” for receiving 10 final nominations and 2 honorable mentions
from the Paper Mill Playhouse Rising Star Awards.  Senior Matt Lynn played
the role of Bat Boy and received a nomination for Outstanding Performance
by an Actor in a Leading Role.  The ensemble of 28 students received a
nomination for Outstanding Performance by a Chorus. Vocal teacher John
Brzozowski was nominated for Outstanding Achievement in Music Direction.
Mr. Brzozowksi also conducted the orchestra which received a nomination for
Outstanding Performance by an Orchestra.  Megan Mulrooney was nominated for
Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role. Asher Horowitz
received a nomination for Outstanding Achievement in Lobby display and
Alexa Derman was nominated for Outstanding Hair and Makeup Achievement.
Honorable Mentions for Best Overall Production and Best Director to Daniel
Devlin were also announced.  Nominations for the Student Achievements
Awards went to Geneva Gleason for Costume Design, Chris Sabatino for Film
Computer and Animation, and to Lydia Oquendo for Stage Manager. The Rising
Star Award Corps of Evaluators attend 100 high school productions
throughout the state.  The final award recipients will be announced June
4th at Paper Mill Playhouse.  We wish all our shining stars the best of
luck in these selections.

It was a great day at the Bucks County Playhouse Theatre Festival on
Monday, May 6, for Roosevelt Intermediate Drama Students, who competed
against more than 100 students.  The students’ production of Spoon River
Anthology received the Outstanding Middle School Ensemble award, Meagan
O’Connell was named Outstanding Actress, and Samantha Greenaway captured
the Spotlight Award.  Congratulations to these students and to
teacher/director Kimberly Jonny.

ATHLETICS
•       Peter Fagan – our State Pole Vaulting Champion -- surpassed his own
WHS pole vault record at the East Coast Relay’s with a jump of 16 ft.
This is also a Union County record and a meet record.
•       At the Union County Track and Field meet that was held at Plainfield
HS on May 16, our boys placed first, second and third in the mile run:
Matt Lupino, Phil Edwards and Kevin Smith in that order.  Congratulations!

•       On Saturday May 18th, JV Baseball won the Union County Tournament by
defeating SPF 3-0.

INTERMEDIATE SCHOOLS
The Germ Busters team, comprised of 5 Roosevelt Intermediate School
students, won 2nd place in the United Healthcare/YMCA 4th Annual Health Bee
Competition. They competed against 7 other teams and reached the final
round.  The seventh graders are Julian Mazzola, Owen Heim, Stefan
Sujanthakumar, Connor Smith, Joey Gabriel and Matthew Meusel. The $500
awarded grant money received by the team will be used for any health
related materials/activities, which will benefit all the students in
Roosevelt. The Health Bee is a jeopardy style, physical activity and
nutrition competition. The students make a commitment to gain a greater
knowledge of health and physical fitness and along the way, meet other
peers of their age from the surrounding schools.  This year’s special
guest at the Health Bee was Brenda Blackmon, Co-Anchor of My9 News.

COMMUNITY
May is “Older Americans Month” and this week students from Westfield
High School visited some older residents of Westfield and made their day a
little brighter.  More than 20 members of the Westfield High School Chorale
provided entertainment for the Westfield Senior Citizens Housing Complex.
The songs included challenging pieces including those in French, Italian
and German.  The senior citizens were very impressed and described our
students as “very talented, professional, and really marvelous.”  One
woman said she” just loves the kids and the conductor,” who was vocal
music teacher John Brzozowski.

NEXT BOARD OF EDUCATION MEETING - June 11.  We will begin our meeting with
a recognition of Westfield’s secondary school teachers: Pam Friedman
(RIS) and Debbie Vezos (EIS) – who were selected as Optimist of Westfield
Intermediate teachers of year;  and WHS teachers of the year - Andrea Hill,
Stephen Boyle, and Zorana Culjak. The meeting will start at 7:30 PM, at 302
Elm St.

Margaret Dolan, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools

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. Click here to submit a Letter to the Editor.

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