Letters to the Editor

Important Information from the Westfield Board of Education

Preceding the business portion of the January 7 Westfield Board of Education organization meeting, re-elected members for three year terms, (l-r) Ginny Leiz, Mitch Slater and Brendan Galligan, recited the oath of office in the presence of Board Attorney Richard Kaplow. Credits: Westfield Public Schools

SYNOPSIS of Board of Ed Mtg of Jan. 7, 2014


Preceding the business portion of the meeting, newly elected Board members
for three year terms, Brendan Galligan, Ginny Leiz and Mitch Slater,
recited the oath of office in the presence of Board Attorney, Richard
Kaplow. Richard Mattessich was unanimously re-elected president of the
Board following his nomination by Mitch Slater.  Mrs. Kurstedt was
unanimously re-elected vice president of the Board following her nomination
by Gretchan Ohlig.  The Board read aloud the New Jersey School Board
Association Code of Ethics for School Board members. Items that are
annually part of the reorganization were approved, such as authorization
for the Business Administrator to advertise and receive bids for services,
to sign purchase orders and to execute contracts; the use of Roberts Rules
of Order as the parliamentary procedures guide; and the district
organization chart.

I presented the Board with an Update on the 2010-2015 Strategic Plan and
District Goals.
The 2013-2014 District Goals, which emanate from the Strategic Plan,

•       Implement the Marshall Teacher Evaluation Model effectively -
Following the adoption of this evaluation model for teachers and
administrators, we have held training sessions and conferences; created an
informative evaluation website and manual; and completed over 1,000
observations of teachers. By December 15, 2013, all non-tenured teachers
had received a minimum of three written observations and all tenured
teachers had received a minimum of one written observation.

•       Develop and Use Benchmark Assessments to Measure Growth of Student
Performance -                             The In-Service day prior to the
official start of school was attended by all teachers, supervisors and
administrators to devote time for implementing a system of student growth
objectives (SGOs).  A district-developed instructional video was shown to
all attendees to ensure that the same information was communicated. There
were follow-up department and school meetings, and SGOs were written by
teachers and approved by administrators to address needs of students.

•       New Digital/Media Communication Tools –
A new website provider was selected with off-site hosting and a project
manager was appointed. Training is ongoing for teachers and staff with the
new website launch date expected in Spring of 2014.  Expanded use of social
media has been advanced with the embedding of the district twitter account
and the mobile view on the existing website.

In addition to District goals, the Board of Education developed goals for

•       Implement mechanism(s) to enable more fulsome group discussion and
brainstorming, and to increase and equalize Board members’ shared

•       Embed assessment into significant Board actions.
The Mission Statement of the Westfield Public Schools is the source for our
Strategic Plan and District and Board Goals:  The Westfield Public School
district, in cooperation with family and community, prepares all students
to reach their highest potential and to become productive, well-balanced
and responsible citizens in a global society through educational programs
that respect individual differences and diversity.

Business Manager Dana Sullivan reported that approximately 16 facilities
matching grants have been approved by the State, and more replies should be


The Board approved for second reading the 2014-2015 School Calendar.
Policies Chair Gretchan Ohlig explained that the Board received input from
parents both in favor of the proposed spring break from April 3 – 10,
2015 and some in opposition to it.  The Committee’s decision was to
maintain the proposal.
The Board approved for second reading the following policies:  3337
(Teaching Staff Members) – Service Animals; 4337 (Support Staff Members)
– Service Animals; and 5337 (Pupils) – Service Animals.
The Board affirmed my decision on an HIB incident.


The Board approved for first reading the following WHS curricula:  World
Language – Latin III, Latin III Honors, Latin IV, and Latin IV AP.  CIP
Chair Rosanne Kurstedt reported that the interest and enrollment in Latin
has increased at the High School.

The Board approved for second reading the following WHS curricula:  Social
Studies – Psychology through Film and Literature; Personal and Financial
Literacy.  World Languages – Italian III, Italian III Honors, Italian IV
Honors, and Spanish 3, 4, 5.

The Board approved a total of three day trips for students to attend
curriculum-related events.


The Board gratefully accepted a gift of $2000 from an anonymous donor to
the Westfield High School Music department, and a gift of $3000 from the
Westfield Coalition for the Arts to the Westfield High School Music
department to fund participation in the Avery Fisher Festival.

Dana Sullivan reported that she is waiting for guidelines from the State
regarding the possibility of extended deadlines for proposed school
budgets. In the meantime, I have met with principals and supervisors to
determine district priorities for 2014-2015, and the Board’s Finance
Committee is meeting with Mrs. Sullivan to construct a new budget.

Ann Cary, Chair of the Board’s Legislation Committee, announced that the
Committee will reconvene with particular interest in the pending response
from legislators regarding a new bill introduced to make kindergarten
mandatory in the State.


I am pleased to announce that I have nominated Westfield’s Special
Education Parents Committee for the 2014 Unity Achievement Award.  This
award is presented every May by the Union County Human Relations
Commission.   The award recognizes “programs, services, activities, and
efforts being put forth by local role models that promote cultural
diversity, strong community relations and human rights.  The Award
recipients enhance the human spirit and quality of life by dedicating
themselves to make things better for people and between people."

The dedicated and good-hearted volunteers of Westfield’s Special
Education Parent Committee fit this description.  For approximately 20
years, this hard-working committee has brought awareness and advocacy of
special needs students to the forefront and supported thousands of parents
in so many ways.  The committee’s monthly meetings and annual Expo
attract parents and teachers within and beyond Westfield.  They
successfully manage time and again to schedule experts in education and
child behavior as guest speakers on a pro bono basis.  This committee is an
asset to this district as we work hand-in-hand to provide support to
families. The committee remains vigilant and well-informed, meeting with
statewide agencies and our own Board of Education and Special Services
offices.  The 23 current volunteers on the PTC Special Education Parents
Committee certainly embody the qualities that the Union County Human
Relations Commission holds high:  To enhance the human spirit and quality
of life by dedicating themselves to make things better for people and
between people."

It is too early to know the outcome of our nomination, but as a district,
we recognize the efforts of the Committee and thank them for two decades of
helping the children and parents in Westfield.

The Westfield Public School District has begun registration for children
who will become eligible for kindergarten in the 2014-2015 school year. The
District also is interested in locating children who have not attended the
Westfield Public Schools for kindergarten but will enter first grade in the
fall.   Daytime and evening appointments are being scheduled.  Since all
previously announced kindergarten registration appointments have been
filled, the following additional registration dates have been scheduled:
Tuesday, January 28, 9:00 am – 11:30 am and Wednesday, January 29, 1:00
pm – 3:00 pm. Parents of incoming kindergarten children are asked to call
Lincoln School at 789-4455 to schedule an appointment and to check the
school or district website for downloading forms required at registration.

All Westfield Public Schools will be closed on Monday, January 20, in
observance of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday.  All members of the
Westfield community are invited to the 27th Annual Interfaith Commemorative
Service at 1 PM at Temple Emanu-El, where Rabbi Douglas Sagal will be the
keynote speaker.  The Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Association of Westfield
also welcomes the public to meet at the monument of Dr. King on the South
Avenue Circle at 12:15 to process to the Temple.  During the services,
student winners of this year’s essay, poetry and art contests will be

Westfield High School’s student-run weekly newspaper, Hi's Eye, has been
awarded a gold medal by the Columbia Scholastic Press Association in the
print and web hybrid category for the 2012-13 school year.  For many years
Hi’s Eye has been an award recipient for its printed newspaper.  Since
its venture into both a print and web presence in 2011, Hi’s Eye has
captured the gold medal from the Columbia Scholastic Press Association for
two consecutive years. The judges wrote the following in their decision:
"The Hi's Eye demonstrates exactly what a school publication should do; it
informs, entertains and provides a forum for student opinion. When a reader
picks up the print edition, the quality of the writing impresses. When the
reader goes to the digital edition, he finds a website with energy and
talent. Kudos to the student designers. It captures the high school's
spirit, culture and personality."  Congratulations to the 2012-2013 staff
of Hi’s Eye and advisers Rosemary DiBattista and Nicole Scimone on this
outstanding recognition.

Parents of students in 3rd through 12th grades in the Westfield Public
Schools are invited to attend the Westfield High School PTSO meeting on
Wednesday, January 22, to hear author and study skills expert Richard P.
Gallagher share his “Study Skills to Last a Lifetime.” Secondary school
students are also welcomed.  The meeting will take place from 7:30 – 9:00
PM in Cafeteria B of Westfield High School, and there is no admission

With the onset of the Flu season, the health offices of the Westfield
Public Schools remind families to practice frequent hand washing, consider
getting the flu vaccine, and try to stay away from others if you are ill.
Tips on Preventing the Flu and more information from the Center for Disease
Control can be found on our district website under “Important Messages”
and also under the “Parents” link.

NEXT BOARD OF EDUCATION MEETING will be held Tuesday, January 21, at 7:30
PM at 302 Elm Street.

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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