Letters to the Editor

Important Information from the Westfield Board of Education

Synopsis Of a Westfield Board of Education meeting on June 11, 2013


Board President, Richard Mattessich, presented Board of Education
resolutions to five secondary school teachers who were recipients of awards
this spring.  They included:  Optimist Intermediate Teachers of the Year,
Pamela Friedman, Technology teacher at Roosevelt Intermediate School, and
Debbie Vezos, Language Arts teacher at Edison Intermediate School.  Also
acknowledged were three Westfield High School teachers:  Stephen Boyle,
Science teacher, who is this year’s recipient of the Distinguished
Teacher of the Year Award; Zorana Culjak, Mathematics teacher and recipient
of Westfield High School PTSO’s Outstanding Teacher Award; and Andrea
Hill, Mathematics teacher and 2013 winner of the Robert and Linda Foose
Memorial Award for Excellence.  On hand for the ceremony were school
principals, PTO officers, students, colleagues, family members, and


 I began my report by stating that we were very fortunate to have a School
Resource Officer (SRO) in the district for 10 years.  He was a fabric of
Westfield High School.  He was not an armed guard, nor are we suggesting
one now. Unfortunately, the SRO position was eliminated due to budget cuts
a few years ago.  Each year the WHS Principal and I have looked at ways to
include the position in the development of the budget, and when we saw a
reduction in salary accounts for 2013-14 we reached out to the Westfield
Police Department to see if we could work out an arrangement for shared
services.  The district’s share would be $50,000, which would provide us
with an invaluable resource for our students, staff and administration.
This amount was included in the 2013-14 budget, which was approved by the
Board on March 21.  The position was included in a Powerpoint budget
presentation at the March 5, 2013 Board meeting (which I replayed on June

The SRO is a multi-faceted position which has proven to be extremely
beneficial to our students, staff, and administration. There are three main
functions:  law enforcement officer; law related counselor; and law related

According to the NJ SAFE Task Force Report published April 2013, “The
SRO program is essentially a type of community policing where the
officer’s beat is a school.  These officers become an integral part of
the school community.  The emphasis is on positive interactions with
students and staff.”  Also quoting from the NJ SAFE Task Force Report,
“Furthermore, experience shows that SROs earn trust among the student
population so that students who would otherwise be reluctant to call police
or a “tip line” feel comfortable sharing information that might help to
nip a problem – such as bullying, threats of violence, or aberrant
behavior – before it escalates to senseless violence.  The point is
simply that far from disrupting a school environment, these officers
contribute to that environment as full-fledged and well respected members
of the school community.”

Westfield Chief of Police, David Wayman, explained that the SRO is an
officer who undergoes special training for a school environment, who
establishes relationships with students in a positive non-confrontational
setting, gains student trust, instructs specialized programs on crime
prevention and substance abuse, is a valuable resource in confronting
potential or actual illegal occurrences, becomes acutely familiar with the
physical characteristics of the school, enhances safety, and assists in
dealing with emergencies. A trained SRO is a police officer. When any
police officer has been in our schools – in a DARE program, explaining
bicycle safety, etc., he/she has been armed because he/she is on duty.

WHS Principal Peter Renwick stated that he worked 15 years alongside a
SRO. Based on this experience, Mr. Renwick reiterated the value of the
position and the resources a SRO provides:  serves as a role model; assists
in interventions/mediations; promotes respect through citizenship;  shares
knowledge of the law; knows and has a comfort level with the building;
assists others; promotes a safe environment; develops positive
relationships with students, faculty, staff and administration; addresses
potential issues that could develop; and would be able to address a serious
threat much faster being in the building.

Director of Counseling Maureen Mazzarese worked alongside the previous SRO
at WHS.  The SRO was a valued member of the Student Assistance Team and the
Crisis Management Team.  She stated that the SRO was sought after by club
advisors, nurses, teachers, parents, and students.  He was a familiar face
in the halls.  The students shared with him concerns they had of their
friends.  He helped the administration and the staff to understand
cyber-technology and the law.  His interventions were often successful in
preventing a criminal offense.  Ms. Mazzarese added that WHS is a bigger
place now and the need is even greater.

Board member Brendan Galligan, who was a student at the time that a SRO
was at WHS, said that as a victim of a crime, he was personally helped by
the SRO, who continued to check on him a week later.  Mr. Galligan stated
that the SRO was “a real asset to the school community.”
Following additional comments and questions by the Board and public –
both in support of and in opposition to the motion -- the Board tabled the
reinstatement of the SRO until the next meeting on Monday, June 24, to
permit further communication on the topic.


The Board approved annual items, such as the dates, time and place of
official BOE meetings; staff appointments required by law (e.g., Custodian
of Records); the adoption of existing curricula, textbooks and policies;
resolutions approving service providers to the Board; approval for the
Business Administrator to advertise and receive bids for services; and
permission to allow the district to participate in contracts that have been
bid by other jurisdictions and three county purchasing cooperatives.


The Board appointed Pamela Ackerman-Garcia K-12 Language Arts Supervisor.
She has an extensive career as a teacher and an administrator for language
arts curriculum articulation and development and accompanying professional
development. She is expected to begin her position in Westfield by August

The Board accepted with regret the following retirements: Michael Clarke
– Lincoln School Custodian, who has served the district for almost 12
years, and Salvatore Petrucelli – Washington School Custodian, who is a
20 year veteran of the Westfield Public Schools.  We wish them much
happiness in their retirement.


The State is making some funds available for School Development Authority
(SDA) grants. We have been reaching out to determine whether Westfield may
be able to take advantage of these funds.


The Board approved for first reading the following policies: 5466 –
Graduation and Yearbook Fees; 6112 – Reimbursement of Federal and Other
Grant Expenditures; and 6362 – Contributions to Board Members and
Contract Awards.

The Board approved for second reading the following policies:  0151 –
Organization Meetings; 0161 – Call, Adjournment and Cancellation; and
0162 – Notice of Board Meetings.

The Board approved for first reading to repeal the following policies
which have been superseded by 0151:  0153 – Annual Appointments and 0154
– Annual Motions and Designations.

The Board affirmed my decision on two HIB incidents.


The Board approved the following revised curriculum:

For first reading:  Language Arts – Journalism I  and Print Journalism;
Mathematics – Algebra II/Algebra II Advanced/Algebra II Honors (all one
Math curriculum).

For second reading:  Social Studies – AP United States Government and
Politics; AP European History; Ancient and Medieval Traditions; and
American Studies.  World Language – Mandarin Chinese I; Mandarin Chinese
II; Latin I; Latin II; Spanish 6, 7, 8; and Spanish I, Spanish II/Spanish
II Honors.


The Board approved a withdrawal from our maintenance reserve account to
fund the following projects:
$80,280 - Asbestos removal and tile replacement at Jefferson, Franklin and
Wilson Schools (including design and oversight fees)
$21,960 – Installation and wiring, change of pneumatic controls at
Washington School
$36,150 – Replacement of ceiling tiles and lighting at Westfield High
$10,625 – Design and oversight of asbestos removal in Edison
Intermediate School boiler room
$1,365.99 – Carpeting at Roosevelt Intermediate School



The following four candidates have submitted their applications for the
three seats on the Board of Education.  Each seat represents a three-year
term.  The election will take place on Tuesday, November 5, 2013.  The
candidates include incumbents Brendan Galligan, Ginny Leiz, and Mitch
Slater and challenger Jonathan Blitt.


Congratulations to the The Odyssey of the Mind teams who competed in the
World Finals at Michigan State University.  There were over 800 teams from
over 30 states and 13 countries, with opening and closing ceremonies were
webcast worldwide.   Westfield team members Omay Edekar, Julia Tompkins,
Madeleine Learner, Natalie Lee, Eric Palia and Mira Mehta captured 4th
place out of 47 teams.  Our other Westfield team finished 19th out of 51
teams.  Westfield students included Noah Dengler, Kurt Hu, Vivian Jeckell,
Aidan Kilbourn, Nathan Lam, Aidan Orr and Catherine Orr.  What a wonderful
experience for our gifted students and a terrific honor for our district.

More than 200 students and 15 teachers at McKinley Elementary School hit
the dance floor recently in the fight against pediatric cancer at the
school’s second annual “mini-THON” dance-a-thon, raising $8,300 to
benefit the Karyn Research Fund. Also, at McKinley, fifth graders led by
music teacher Christina Toulios sang the National Anthem at a Somerset
Patriots game. About 300 members of the McKinley community attended the
game as part of a school-wide family outing.

Wilson School
Congratulations to Trista Nwokey, second grade teacher at Wilson School,
who received recertification from the National Board for Professional
Teaching Standards.  She is only one of six teachers in New Jersey who
received this recertification and was one of 25 in her initial
certification class 10 years ago.  She completed a portfolio which included
10 assessment exercises which reflected effective teaching as outlined by
the teaching standards created by the National Board for Professional
Teaching Standards.  She was invited to attend a recognition dinner in
Trenton in May.


Edison Intermediate School in Westfield recently held a “Mix It Up at
Lunch” in the school’s cafeteria.  The student group called Teens
Learning Respect N’ Compassion organized the event with the school’s
counselors. In November, they asked Edison students to fill out a
questionnaire about the school climate.  In that survey students identified
that the cafeteria is the place where divisions amongst students are drawn.
“Mix It Up at Lunch” day was created for the 6th grade class to move
out of their comfort zones and connect with someone new over lunch. In
addition to eating lunch together, the 6th graders and their peer leaders
interacted in fun activities.


Westfield High School has once again been recognized for achievements at
the annual Paper Mill Playhouse Rising Star Awards.  The awards for the
school’s 2013 spring production, Bat Boy: The Musical, included:
Outstanding Actor in a Leading Role - Matthew D. Lynn; Student Achievement
Award (Film/Computer Animation) - Chris Sabatio;  Student Achievement Award
- (Stage Manager) Lydia Oquendo (This is the fourth consecutive year that
the Westfield High School Stage Manager has received this award); and
Tiffany & Co. Rising Star Awards Scholarship - Isabelle Smelkinson.

Congratulations to our Baseball team who won the State Sectional title.
We applaud your efforts and your team spirit.
More congratulations for Peter Fagan who won the pole vault at the State
Sectional Meet.
At the County level, we applaud our Softball team who won the union county
Shortly following our last Board of Education meeting, Westfield High
School Senior and Lacrosse player Elizabeth Cusick who will be attending
Stanford University in the fall, was selected as the Star Ledger athlete of
the week .  The Ledger wrote: “Senior midfielder Elizabeth Cusick is the
leading scorer for one of the hottest teams in the state. Cusick has 80
goals this season.”

Just a reminder:  the last day of school for students in Grades 6 through
12  is Thursday, June 20. (June 19 & 20 are 4-hr sessions).
The last day of school for students in Grades K- 5 is Friday, June 21.
(June 19, 20 & 21 are 4-hr sessions.

Westfield High School’s graduation ceremony will be held Tuesday, June
25, beginning at 6 PM.  We look forward to that special evening in which we
honor our graduating seniors

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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