Letters to the Editor

Important Information from the Westfield Board of Education

Synopsis of a Westfield Board of Education meeting on March 25, 2014


CAPITAL & MAINTENANCE PROJECTS
Business Administrator Dana Sullivan presented a report on Capital and
Maintenance Projects for 2014 – 2015.  She reported that she and Mike
Morris (Supervisor – Buildings and Grounds), principals, architects, and
the Board’s Facilities Committee have been meeting to prioritize summer
facilities projects.  The list of projects and estimated cost summary is
included in the above report.
•       While routine maintenance is funded out of the operating budget,
capital and maintenance projects can be funded through maintenance reserve
funds, capital reserve funds, or state grant funds that cover 40% of the
total project cost.
•       The district applied for 62 state grants, and 36 were approved.  In
determining which grants to accept, we had to recognize that the district
would be responsible for 60% of the funding.  We are moving ahead with
grants based on our priorities and our ability to cover the 60% of the
costs.
•       We are moving forward with 17 of the 36 state grants, which would total
$1,120,110 in state funds.
•       Security upgrades in each of our schools were top priorities, with
state grants contributing toward eight of our schools.  We have secured a
safety grant from NJ School Boards Insurance Group to support our security
efforts in our other two schools.
•       State grant monies will also help fund new boilers at Roosevelt
Intermediate School and Tamaques Elementary School, a generator at
Westfield High School, and HVAC controls in several schools.
•       Although the State approved grants for air conditioning our schools,
the district’s share of the cost is estimated at $9.5 million, which is
not feasible for us to fund.  At this point, we have accepted the grants in
the event there are alternate means of funding the district’s share. The
Board is considering providing schools with price estimates to be shared
with fund-raising groups as soon as possible. The district has 18 months to
obtain local funds before the state grant opportunity expires.
In response to parents who have attended Board meetings and communicated
concerns regarding auditorium upgrades in the secondary schools, Ms.
Sullivan summarized the district’s response:  Reviewed expectations for
daily, annual and seasonal cleaning; met with secondary principals to
discuss budgeting for repairs and maintenance and designation of
responsibility; reviewing requirements for groups using facilities; and
considering hiring a consultant to make recommendations for sound an
acoustic upgrades at intermediate schools.

WEBSITE UPDATE
Paul Piniero provided a Website Update, explaining that as part of the
district’s Strategic Plan and one of this year’s district goals, we are
implementing new digital tools and media to improve communication between
the district and all stakeholders.
A large part of this improvement will be the launching of the district’s
new website platform on April 21.
Since last summer our Master Technology teachers – Jeanine Gottko and
Adam Pizzi -- have provided instruction on the new platform from Edline,
which is now the parent company of School Center, our current provider.
Mr. Pineiro stated that as the new website evolves, we will follow the
standard themes of the International Society for Technology (ISTE), which
include critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity.

Edline has the potential to provide these capabilities: web page design;
blended learning; blogs; online discussions; posts of embedded
videos/podcasts/screen casts; place for student discussions; sharing
resources; and shared calendar.  Parents and students will be provided
logins for the fall of 2014.  We look forward to moving ahead with these
developments in our improved digital communications.

CURRICULUM, INSTRUCTION & PROGRAM
The Board approved for first reading the following curriculum:  Social
Studies -- Social Studies K-4.

Andrea Brennan, K-12 Social Studies Supervisor, reported on the process and
features of the new K-4 Social Studies curriculum.   Teachers in grades K-4
met over the summer and fall.  Revisions to the curriculum were driven by
the NJ Core Curriculum Content Standards and the Common Core State
Standards.  They are aligned with Common Core Language Arts standards and
incorporate more primary sources early in elementary school years, current
events, biographies, and opinion writing. They also incorporate inquiry and
intend to provide fundamental understanding of the four core areas of
Social Studies:  History, Civics, Geography and Economics.  The new
resources include access to lesson plan sharing with teachers across the
country, a 6 year subscription of an online textbook that students can
access at home, and links to interactive activities on websites.  Ms.
Brennan explained that the department is planning summer workshops so
teachers can become familiar with all these features. She remarked that she
is very excited about what the Grade K-4 committee has done and looks
forward to what the grade 5 curriculum revisions will be.

The Board approved the Grade 5 Social Studies curriculum as aligned to
standards.  A full revision of this curriculum has not yet taken place.

The Board approved two 5th grade field trips.


POLICIES
•       The Board approved the following policies for first reading:  2425 –
No Child Left Behind Programs; 2415.01 – Academic Standards, Academic
Assessments and Accountability; and 2415.04 – Title I – District-wide
Parental Involvement.
•       The Board approved the following policies for second reading:  2362 –
School Library/Media Centers and 8220 – School Day.
•       The Board approved Guidelines and Procedures for the 2014-2015 Student
Activity Fee (per policy 2436 Student Activity Fee).
•       The Board affirmed the Superintendent’s decision on HIB incident
14R04.


FINANCE

•       The Board approved and awarded a contract for partial roof replacement
at Franklin Elementary School and the Board of Education office building to
Arch-Concept Construction in the amount of $759,500.
•       The Board approved and awarded a contract for roof replacement at
Edison Intermediate School, Lincoln School and Kehler Stadium to E.R.
Barrett, Inc. in the amount of $1,882,320.
•       The Board approved and awarded a contract for partial roof replacement
at Jefferson Elementary School and roof replacement at Tamaques Elementary
School to E.R. Barrett, Inc. in a lump sum bid of $1,482,800.
•       The Board approved and awarded a contract for partial roof replacement
at McKinley Elementary School and Wilson Elementary School to Arch-Concept
Construction for a total of $729,000.
•       The Board approved a withdrawal from the maintenance reserve account in
the amount of $14,578 for painting hallways at Roosevelt Intermediate
School.
•       The Board accepted with appreciation the following gifts:  $1,000 from
the Westfield Coalition for the Arts and $1,000 from the Education Fund of
Westfield to Jefferson School’s 5th Grade Contemporary Art Project; and a
gift of an Altenburg Upright Piano from Mrs. Susan Triverio to the
Roosevelt Intermediate School Music Department.

FACILITIES
Business Administrator Dana Sullivan reported that the roofing work at
Westfield High School is just about completed.  When the weather gets
warmer, the flashing can be installed.
The Board approved a resolution for the Business Administrator to solicit
bids and quotes for the facilities projects presented as Summer 2014
projects, which total an estimated $1,700,576.
The Board approved a resolution to authorize the submission of capital
project documents to the New Jersey Department of Education for a new
vertical lift at Tamaques Elementary School.


ANNOUNCEMENTS

FINE ARTS

•       This past weekend, Westfield High School’s Wind Ensemble performed in
the prestigious Avery Fisher Hall, home of the New York Philharmonic
Orchestra. Our Wind Ensemble was one of 7 chosen nationally to perform at
Lincoln Center as part of this year’s National Band and Orchestra
Festival.  I had the pleasure of attending.  I can truthfully say that I
have never before heard such professional quality music performed by a high
school.  Congratulations to the students and to Chris Vitale.

•       Westfield High School’s March 14th production of “Anyone Can
Whistle” was attended by theatre critic and author Peter Filichia, who
said he was “flabbergasted” at how “magnificent” it was, and
remarked, “I won’t be surprised if we hear from these kids as time goes
by.” He praised the direction for being as slick as it could possibly be.
 He loved the singing and the design – both of which he called
“beautiful.”  In his review he remarked how Westfield High School has a
tremendous reputation, and though it was a difficult show, it looked
professional.  He actually said he would have gone back to see it again the
next night if he didn’t have a prior engagement. He summed up his review
by saying “My hat is off to Westfield High School!” The review is
posted on Broadwayradio.com.

•       Edison Intermediate School’s cast and crew of 110 students will
perform this weekend in The Little Mermaid.  The musical will be performed
on Thursday, March 27th at 4 PM, and on Friday and Saturday, March, 28th
and 29th at 7:30 PM.

•       Amanda Zhang, an 8th grade student at the Edison Intermediate School in
Westfield, was recently chosen to display her art work at the State House
in Trenton.  Amanda's acrylic painting of Cozette, the young girl from the
Broadway musical, Les Miserables, was one of only six art pieces selected
to represent Union County in the State Youth Art Month exhibit in Trenton.
Amanda was accompanied at the Artist Reception by Edison Art Teacher,
Alison Hooper.

•       Congratulations to Mira Yang, an 8th Grade viola player, who has been
chosen to perform in the NJ All-State Orchestra.  She was selected for the
6th chair, out of 16 accepted, and from the 32 violists who auditioned.

•       Congratulations to David Gruskin, senior trumpet player, who was
selected for the Central Jersey Music Educators Associatio’'s Region II
Jazz Ensemble. The concert will be held on Sunday April 14th at Rahway High
School.

•       Students at Westfield’s McKinley Elementary School took the stage in
the annual Kapers musical production which explored the importance of
asking questions and learning through the process of discovery, reflecting
this year’s school theme of McKinley School, “Where We Grow Our Hearts
and Our Minds.”  The cast included 140 third, fourth and fifth-graders,
as well as 40 adults comprised of McKinley parents, teachers and principal
Marc Biunno. The show was written, directed, and choreographed by McKinley
parents Jackie Weiner and Jenny Tananbaum.

WESTFIELD HIGH SCHOOL

Congratulations to the Westfield High School Fed Challenge Team who
advanced to the semi-final round in the 18th annual Fed Challenge.  The
team competed in the preliminary round held at the New York Federal Reserve
Bank in NYC on Thursday, March 20th against 90 teams from Connecticut, Long
Island, the five boroughs, and Northern New Jersey. The Westfield team
scored 38 out of 40 in the round with the commentary from the judges
calling it an outstanding presentation. Westfield will be among the 20
teams to compete in the semi-final round on the 10th of April and hopes to
move onto the final five that afternoon. This year's team consists of
Seniors: Matt Micele, Evan Garfinkel, Jake Wasserman, and Juniors-Erica
Millwater and Will Crenshaw. Social Studies teacher Thom Hornish was
assisted throughout the year by colleague Jim Lane. Westfield has been a
participant in the Fed Challenge since 1999 and has been to the semi-final
round 10 times and to the finals 5 times. The Fed Challenge high school
competition is an educational program that aims to encourage students to
learn more about the Federal Reserve System and to spur interest in
economics and finance as the basis for a possible career.


ATHLETICS

Congratulations to Westfield High School junior and basketball player
Jacqueline Knapp who scored 1,000 points this year.  She joins teammate
Lillian Scott as 2 of only 5 female basketball players having achieved this
total in the entire history of the program at Westfield High School.


INTERMEDIATE – GEO BEE

Congratulations to Roosevelt 7th grader Jasper Lemberg, who will be
representing the Westfield Public Schools at the State Geography Bee on
April 4th at Rowan University.  Jasper qualified to advance to the State
level through a written exam and following notification from the National
Geographic Society.  In January, Jasper won first place for the second
consecutive year in the school-based Geography Bee held at Roosevelt, and
this marks his second consecutive entry into the state competition.

PHILHOWER – ELEMENTARY TEACHER AWARD

Monday, April 7, 2014 is the deadline for nominations for the 22nd annual
Charles Philhower Fellowship award designated for a full-time elementary
teacher in the Westfield Public Schools. Letters of nomination are invited
from interested citizens, parents, students and Westfield public school
staff members and should be addressed to:  Charles Philhower Fellowship
Committee of the Westfield Rotary Club, c/o Office of the Superintendent of
Schools, 302 Elm Street, Westfield, NJ 07090, or e-mailed to
rotaryphilhower@westfieldnjk12.org. Nominations should specify ways in
which the teacher has demonstrated outstanding teaching, interest in
children and continued pursuit of professional growth.  The teacher must be
a full-time faculty member in grades K – 5 in the Westfield Public
Schools for a minimum of five years.  The Fellowship recipient will be
honored at a Rotary luncheon and at a Westfield Board of Education meeting,
both scheduled for May 6, and will receive a Rotary grant to further
professional growth or to enhance classroom activities for students.


OPTIMIST INTERMEDIATE TEACHER OF THE YEAR AWARD

The deadline for receipt of nominations for the 17th annual Intermediate
School Outstanding Teacher Award is Tuesday, April 22nd.  Two intermediate
school teachers – one from Edison and one from Roosevelt Intermediate
Schools – will be chosen to receive the award on May 14th at an Optimist
dinner, and will be honored at a Board of Education meeting in June.
Nominations should specify ways in which the teacher has demonstrated
outstanding teaching, interest in children and continued pursuit of
professional growth.  The nominee must be a full-time teacher in the
Westfield Public Schools in grades 6-8 for a minimum of five years.
Students, parents and staff are encouraged to submit nomination letters to:
Outstanding Teacher Award Committee of the Optimist Club of Westfield, c/o
Office of the Superintendent, Westfield Public Schools, 302 Elm St.,
Westfield, NJ  07090.  Letters can also be e-mailed to:
optiaward@westfieldnjk12.org.


A CALENDAR REMINDER

For students in grades 9-12 - Westfield High School will be in session on
SATURDAY, APRIL 5, 2014 for a four-hour day.  The exact schedule is on the
school’s website. With this additional session, JUNE 19 WILL BE THE LAST
DAY OF SCHOOL for WHS students and it remains as Graduation day.  The last
two days of school, June 18 and June 19, 2014 will be four-hour sessions.

For K-8 students - The LAST DAY OF SCHOOL WILL BE FRIDAY, JUNE 20. The last
two days of school, June 19 and June 20, 2014 will be four-hour sessions.



GIFTED ED -  PTC COMMITTEE

On Wednesday evening, April 2nd, the Westfield Gifted Ed PTC committee will
present a free seminar with guest speakers on the topic  "Determining if a
Child Needs Gifted Resources & Finding the Right Fit." The seminar, which
will be held at Edison Intermediate School from 7-9 PM, is open to all
students, teachers & families with children in grades K-12. Admission to
Westfield’s Gifted Program is not a prerequisite for the seminar or the
programs exhibited.  The keynote speaker is Dr. Lenore Cortina, Faculty
Director of the Rutgers Gifted Ed Certificate Program. Representatives from
Johns Hopkins CTY, HEROES Academy for the Gifted, Montclair State
University's Gifted & Talented Program / Hi-Jump at MSU, and Rutgers
Pre-College Program will also be available. The purpose of the seminar is
to provide a wide range of information and enrichment opportunities to the
community about a variety of programs designed for different ages and
interests. Each program has different qualification criteria and
objectives. For more information, contact Amisha Mehta at
amishamody@yahoo.com.


ED FUND

The Education Fund of Westfield is holding its annual Wine Tasting and
Auction on Saturday, April 26, from 7 – 11 PM at the Echo Lake Country
Club.  Proceeds fund grants for teachers in our schools.  For more
information, contact westfieldnj.com/defund.


NEXT BOARD OF EDUCATION MEETING – will be held Tuesday, April 8th, at 302
Elm Street.
 

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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