Letters to the Editor

Important Information from the Westfield Board of Education

SYNOPSIS of Board of Ed Mtg of March 11

2014-2015 BUDGET

The Board approved the tentative budget for the 2014-2015 school year.
Business Administrator Dana Sullivan presented an updated presentation,
which included some of the many programs that the budget maintains.

The budget continues funding for literacy and technology initiatives; STEM
program, PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and
Careers) requirements; mandated programs and academic support; sufficient
resources for enrollment increases at Westfield High School; and
maintaining co-curricular, athletic and fine arts programs and facilities.

The guiding principles for curriculum and instruction include:
•       21st Century Learning Skills
•       College & Career Readiness
•       Implementation of Common Core Standards
•       Integration of Technology
•       Professional Development
•       Literacy
•       Science, Technology, Engineering & Math (STEM)
•       Assessment
•       Marshall Evaluation

Mrs. Sullivan offered several examples of what she referred to as “Beyond
the Basics,” which represent the breadth of offerings at every level and
include academics, athletics and visual and performing arts.  These
examples are included in the presentation.

The allocations in the proposed budget include:
•       61.6% for instruction
•       8.4% for child study teams, related services and extraordinary
services
•       7.5% for maintenance, insurance and utilities
•       5.8% for health, guidance, and library
•       4.8% for support services, technology and central administration
•       4.4% for building administration
•       3.2% for debt service
•       2.7% for transportation
•       1.2% for athletics
•       0.4% for co-curricular

Requests that are not reflected in the 2014-2015 budget include:
•       Technology $2,407,000
•       Teachers $166,900
•       Administrators $230,000
•       Athletics $82,400
•       Fine Arts $79,500
•       Support $38,228

Board member Ginny Leiz remarked that out-of-district tuition represents
almost $7 million of the budget for special education services.  The state
does not require a cap on out-of-district tuition. There also are increases
in utilities and property insurance, which Mrs. Sullivan said are due to
storm damage and the cold winter school districts in New Jersey have
experienced.

Following the budget presentation, a member of the public, who represents
parents interested in auditorium improvements, thanked the Board and
Administration for looking at those needs at the secondary schools. She
suggested looking at other school districts to consider modeling their
efforts. She emphasized that proper sound, lighting and appearance are
important to support the outstanding performances by our students.


REPORT ON VIOLENCE, VANDALISM, SUBSTANCE ABUSE AND HARASSMENT, INTIMIDATION
AND BULLYING (HIB)

The State requires school districts to report on Violence, Vandalism, and
Substance Abuse and HIB twice a year.  I presented a report from the time
period 9/1/13 to 12/31/13 that included the following incidents:

•       5 violence, vandalism, substance abuse
•       13 investigations into HIB with 2 confirmed cases

As required by the Anti-Bullying Act, the district held school
self-assessments.  Every school met the requirements.  There are 8 core
elements to the assessment:
•       HIB programs, approaches or other initiatives
•       Training on the BOE approved HIB policy
•       Other staff instruction and training programs
•       Curriculum and instruction on HIB and related information and skills
•       HIB personnel
•       School level HIB incident reporting procedure
•       HIB investigation procedure
•       HIB reporting

With a maximum grade of 75, the schools had the following totals on their
self-assessments: Westfield High School 69, Roosevelt 63, Edison 69,
Franklin 70, Jefferson 64, McKinley 66, Tamaques 64, Washington 59, Wilson
71, Lincoln 69, and the district grade 66.

Westfield HIB Coordinator, Joe Malanga, who also is Principal of Wilson
School, explained that the district’s Code of Conduct is emphasized in
every building and has a big impact on the students and staff.  Within the
classrooms there are appropriate programs implemented; counselors visit
classrooms often; books are read to the elementary students; and training
is ongoing for the teachers.  School themes at the elementary level evolve
around acts of kindness and the Pillars of Character.  Responding to the
decrease in numbers of incidents, Mr. Malanga affirmed that there has been
a cultural change.  In meetings he attends with other coordinators in Union
County, there appears to be a consistent trend toward a decrease in
incidents.

It is our hope that all our children are learning respect for themselves,
others, and their community.  We want our students to leave our schools
holding on to these important values.

PERSONNEL

The Board accepted with regret the retirement of Barbara Costine, who has
been an integral part of the secretarial team at Westfield High School for
22 years.  Her retirement is effective July 31, 2014.  She is wished good
health and will be missed very much.



FACILITIES

Business Administrator Dana Sullivan stated that there will be a facilities
report at the March 25th meeting.

POLICIES

•       The Board approved for first reading the following policies:  2230 –
Course Guides and 2510 – Adoption of Textbooks.
•       The Board approved for second reading the following policies:  2200 –
Scope of Curriculum; 2210 – Curriculum Development; 2220 – Adoption of
Courses; 2310 – Instructional Grouping; 2330 – Homework; and 2412 –
Home Instruction due to Health Condition.
•       The Board approved for second reading to abolish policy 2414 –
Programs for Pupils at Risk.

FINANCE

The Board approved the tentative budget for 2014-2015 with the general fund
totaling $94,740,837.  Total expenditures including debt service on
previous bonds total $99,519,567. Taxes to be raised, including debt
service, total $91,815,746.

LIAISON REPORT

Gretchan Ohlig reported on her attendance at the PTC/PTO Presidents’
meeting, at which a discussion took place regarding consistency with
grading, particularly at the High School.

ANNOUNCEMENTS

ELEMENTARY

Congratulations to Washington Elementary School teacher Mike Bukowsky. He
has co-authored an article with Professor Avery Faigenbaum of the
Department of Health and Exercise Science at The College of New Jersey.
The article, entitled " FUNdamental Integrative Training... how to
incorporate this new type of training in the gymnasium,"  will be published
this summer in the Journal of Physical Education, Recreation and Dance.
Mr. Bukowsky recently presented a workshop at the annual New Jersey
Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance Convention
entitled "FIT" , which is an acronym for fundamental integrative training,
a program he has pioneered at Washington School. Lastly, Mr. Bukowsky was
awarded a $1000 grant for heart rate monitor sticks that the students can
hold and monitor their heart rates in Phys Ed class to tell them how hard
they are working.  Thank you to Mr. Bukowsky for his dedication to the
health and well-being of our students.


WESTFIELD HIGH SCHOOL
•       Congratulations to Westfield High School 9th Graders Jack Liebling,
Mark Kostyack, and Cole Feltman who received the “Students Change
Hunger” Award last week from the Community Food Bank of New Jersey.  The
boy’s combined efforts resulted in a contribution of 1,068 pounds of food
from September – November 2013.  Westfield topped 9 other schools in the
1500+ students category, including state colleges and universities.  Cole
Feltman, who has been volunteering at the Food Bank over the last two
summers, encouraged his two friends to join him.  Cole explained that they
made announcements in school and had food put in a bin there, collected at
a local frisbee tournament,  at the Westfield High School football game,
and from friends, family, and neighbors.  The most important part of the
effort, which all three boys agreed upon:  “We raised food to help hungry
people throughout New Jersey.”

•       Congratulations to Alexa Derman, Westfield High School senior, who was
awarded Honorable Mention in the Theater Projects 12th annual Young
Playwright’s Competition.  The goal of the competition is to encourage
the next generation of theater practitioners and audience by honoring their
work and bringing it to life.   Alexa will be presented with a citation and
a gift certificate.  It is unlikely that she will be able to receive the
award in person, since Alexa is busy in this weekend’s performance at
Westfield High School.  She is a busy and talented student and we
congratulate her on yet another award.

•       Westfield High School Project 79 coordinator and teacher, Peter Horn,
is quoted in the spring 2014 “Teaching Tolerance” website.   The
article underscores the benefits of serial testimony, which is the practice
of emphasizing the student’s experience and engagement in the curriculum.
 In the article entitled Beyond the Knapsack, Author Peggy McIntosh makes
reference to the value Horn places on serial testimony in the classroom,
and Mr. Horn provides pertinent examples.


FINE ARTS
Just a reminder:  This weekend, March 13th – 15th, Westfield High Schoolwill present “Anyone Can Whistle.” Edison Intermediate School’sSpring Musical - The Little Mermaid will be held March 27th through the 29th.  Mitch Slater commented on the excellent production of “13” which was performed at Roosevelt last weekend.



ODYSSEY OF THE MIND FINALISTS
Westfield’s Odyssey of the Mind teams had spectacular results at the
recent Regional Odyssey Competition.  Out of the 8 teams that competed (3
from Jefferson, 2 from Franklin, and 3 from the Gifted program at Edison
Intermediate School), the following 5 teams will be moving on to the State
Finals on April 12.
From Edison Intermediate School:  Placing 1st in the Vehicle Problem
"Driver's Test", Division 2.  Students include: Massimo del Pizzo, Gaya
Ganesan, Meghan Johnson, Jordan Phillips, and Sophia Vera.  Placing 2nd in
the Performance Problem "Seeing is Believing", Division 2:
Noah Dengler, Kurt Hu, Aidan Kilbourn, Nathan Lam, Paige Busse, Reid Busse,
and Matthew Guarnuccio.  Placing 2nd in the Classics Problem "It's How We
Rule", Division 1: Hannah Cherry, Will Crall, Billy Maguire, Amanda
Rosenthal, Meredith Rosenthal, and Erin Roth.
From Franklin:  Placing 2nd in the Technical Problem "The Not-so-Haunted
House", Division 1:
Catherine Orr, Kate Johnson, Vivian Jeckell, Charlie Jeckell, Matthew
Swenson, Carsen Sharkey, and Grace Klag.
From Jefferson:  Placing 2nd in the Performance Problem "Seeing is
Believing", Division 1:
Maya Dias, Allison DiFalco, Sayee Edekar, Hannah Everett, Nikhil Jyotishi,
Shreya Jyotishi, and Joshua Metz.
Congratulations to all the students who participated, and thank you to
their parent coaches.  Good luck to the finalists in the State competition
next month.

SPECIAL EDUCATION
The Westfield Parent-Teacher Council Special Education Committee presents
the 21st Annual Awareness Expo on Wednesday, March 19, 2014, from
7:00-10:00 PM at Edison Intermediate School.  A total of 10 presentations
are scheduled with experts discussing topics from Anxiety to Technology.
Each session will be presented twice, once from 7:40-8:40 PM and again from
8:45-9:45 PM. All programs have been designated for Professional
Development hours. Please check the district’s Special Services website
for specific information regarding the presentations. The presentation of
the Make a Difference Award will be made to Kathi Wildstein, our Pre-K
teacher at Lincoln School, who has truly made a difference to the parents,
students, and educators of the Westfield Special Education Community.

NEXT BOARD OF EDUCATION MEETING – Tuesday, March 25.  Mrs. Sullivan will
present a report on the district’s maintenance projects.

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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