Synopsis of a Westfield Board of Education meeting on September 10, 2014

REPORT ON PLANS OF WHS GRADUATES

I presented a report on the status of our 2014 graduates.  Our total graduation rate is 99.3%, with 98.5% of our seniors graduating in June and four after they completed summer school.

A total of 97 percent of the Westfield High School (WHS) graduates of 2014 are pursuing a higher education this fall. According to a report released by the WHS Office of Counseling Services:

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·         452 students are continuing their education;

·         90% are attending four-year colleges and universities;

·         4.7% are attending two-year colleges, and 2.3% entering vocational, business and other post high school institutions; remaining graduates have entered the work force, are taking a year off, or had future plans that were undecided at the time of graduation;

·         163 colleges and universities in more than 30 states are being attended; three graduates are studying in Canada and one has selected a university in Turkey. 

·         Seven of the eight Ivy League universities are represented, including:  Princeton, Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, and Yale Universities;

·         Most popular out-of-state colleges and universities selected by this year’s graduates include:  Pennsylvania State University (15); St. Joseph’s University, Philadelphia (14); Ohio State University (11); University of Delaware (10 students); Lehigh University (7); and Vermont University (7);

·          93 WHS graduates are continuing their education in New Jersey, with 71 attending four-year colleges and universities and 22 entering two-year colleges;

·         Most widely attended New Jersey school is Rutgers, with 28 WHS graduates attending various colleges within the university, followed by Stevens Institute of Technology with 7 grads attending; and

·         Looking at two-year secondary institutions, Union County College is welcoming 17 WHS graduates this fall.

            A complete list of 2014 plans will be posted by the end of this week at www.westfieldnjk12.org on the Westfield High School Counseling Department’s website page.

PARCC

Paul Pineiro, Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum, Instruction & Programs, reported on the PARCC testing dates.  PARCC is the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers representing a group of states, including New Jersey, working together to develop a set of assessments that measure whether students are on track to be successful in college and their careers.  PARCC requires that tests are taken using computers.  Westfield administered a successful pilot with selected grades last year.  We are ready to implement the required computer-based testing next spring throughout the district for grades 3 – 11 in English Language Arts (ELA) and Math. Our curriculum has been updated for some time to coincide with the expectations of PARCC.  The PARCC testing dates are as follows:

Grades 3 – 8
PARCC Math & ELA Performance Based Assessment (computer- based testing): March 2 - 27, 2015.

End of Year Component:  April 27 - May 22, 2015.

Grades 9 – 11

PARCC Math & ELA Performance Based Assessment (computer- based testing): March 2 – 27, 2015

End of Year Component:  April 20 – May 15, 2015

Grade 4 and 8 NJ ASK Science Assessment will continue and be paper-based and administered on May 27, 2015.  The NJ Biology Competency Test (NJBCT) will be administered paper-based May 26-27, 2015.

EDLINE

Mr. Pineiro presented an update on the district’s Edline Learning Management System, launched in April: www.westfieldnjk12.org.  Edline provides information about the district and links to school web sites and teacher pages.  Mr. Pineiro recommended using Google Chrome, Firefox or Safari as the web browsers to access the site. 

Parent Activation:

Parents will be sent activation codes via an Edline invitation by the end of this month.  Parents with more than one child in the school district can combine accounts.   Once parent accounts have been created, parents should check that their e-mail is accurate in the parent account settings. Following the rollout of parent activations, students will be provided with their own accounts via an e-mail from Edline.  Parent accounts and student accounts should not be combined.  Resources for the Edline system are available on the district and school web sites located under the “Parents” tab.

Edline’s features:

·         Parents/guardians can access specific information pertaining to their child’s individual classes. 

·         Teachers can post assignments, projects, and other class-specific material for students.

·         Elementary students can access information on assignments and projects, class news and events, web-based academic games, reference data-bases and practice activities for math and other subjects.

·         All of these functions and applications are accessible in one place through the student login.

·         Secondary students can access daily and long-term assignments, class news and events, links to web-based academic research data-bases and multi-media academic resources, and interact with classmates and teachers through message boards.

Recommendations were offered to Mr. Pineiro at the Board meeting by Board members as well as Board candidate Peggy Oster regarding parent communication and access. Mr. Pineiro expressed appreciation for the suggestions.  He stated that everyone worked very hard to implement Edline, including the Board, teachers, and administrators.  He acknowledged that it will be beneficial to have so much information and accessibility concentrated in one location.


PERSONNEL

The Board accepted with regret the retirement of Phyllis Rayner, Franklin School Lunch Aide, who has served the children of Franklin School for 39 years.  We thank her for her many years of dedication to our students, and we wish her well in her retirement.

FACILITIES

Business Administrator Dana Sullivan reported that 100% of cap work on roofs has been completed with the exception of Jefferson School, which will be finished this weekend.  We are still on track for the metal and finishing work to be done by the end of this month.

POLICIES

·         The Board approved the submission of the School Self-Assessment for Determining Grades under the Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights Act for the period July 1, 2013 through June 30, 2014 following the public view on August 26, 2014 for all of our schools:  Franklin, Jefferson, McKinley, Tamaques, Washington, and Wilson Elementary Schools; Lincoln Early Childhood Learning Center; Edison and Roosevelt Intermediate Schools; and Westfield High School.
 

·         The Board affirmed my decision on 5 HIB incidents.

FINANCE

The Board gratefully accepted a gift of $400 from the Westfield Coalition for the Arts to provide master classes for the Westfield High School Chorale throughout the 2014-2015 school year.

ANNOUNCEMENTS

One of our veteran teachers retired this past year.  Thom Hornish was known as a social studies teacher, as a coach, as the volunteer moderator of the Fed Challenge and the Euro Challenge.  He was also always there when a student, a staff member or a family needed help of any sort.  Many know that right after his retirement, Thom was faced with a challenging health issue.  I am happy to say that I saw him this week and he is recuperating very well.  He asked that I pass a message on to the Board, members of the staff and the community:

“Forty-two years ago the Westfield Board of Ed gave a young unknown teacher the opportunity to teach and coach.  That first year I learned not only of the demand for excellence, but I also learned about a caring and compassionate BOE.  Today, 42 years later, I am sincerely thankful for your care, concern, and support.  You honored me by allowing me to read names at graduation and now have stood by me as I take on this challenge.  I cannot think of a kinder, more caring community.  To each and every one on the BOE, central staff, and WHS faculty and staff, my heartfelt ‘thank you’.”

Thomas Hornish

WESTFIELD HIGH SCHOOL

Newsweek has released its America's Top Schools 2014 Rankings.  Westfield High School was ranked #29 in the country, the only open enrollment high school in New Jersey to be ranked this high. Newsweek describes the rankings as highlighting “schools that do the absolute best job of preparing students for college. This year, our methodology is more stringent than ever with new measures of quality and a higher standard for data.” The criteria were based on College Readiness, including SAT/ACT and AP/IB scores, student attrition, college graduation and college bound factors.   The rates that Newsweek reports for schools are percentiles, relative to the other schools on its list, rather than raw percentages. The complete list is included as a link on our district’s website in the “In the News” section on the homepage.  As we have noted before, Westfield High School students’ academic performance has continually been high.  It’s the ranking methodology of various publications that varies from year to year.

Congratulations to Mary Keller, AP U.S. Government and Politics teacher at Westfield High School, who attended the prestigious Supreme Court Summer Institute in Washington, D.C., following a highly competitive nationwide application process.  She was among 30 teachers from around the country who worked to create and implement a variety of interactive strategies to teach students about the U.S. Supreme Court and its cases. During the five-day Institute, Ms. Keller had the unique opportunity to hear in person Supreme Court decisions, to participate in a moot court, to hear presentations by many keynote speakers, and to meet a Supreme Court Justice.  She also learned about a variety of print, online, and video media to research and integrate into Westfield’s teaching about the U.S. Supreme Court.  As you may recall, earlier this year Ms. Keller was elected to the New Jersey Council for Social Studies Board of Directors as one of three regional Directors for Central New Jersey. 

BACK TO SCHOOL NIGHTS

Back to School Nights are beginning in the Westfield Public Schools. Please check each school’s website calendar or PTO newsletter for the exact dates and times.  We welcome parents to attend these very informative evenings to meet teachers, administrators, and get a glance into your child’s school day.

NEXT BOARD OF EDUCATION MEETING - will be held Tuesday, September 23.  There will be a short regular meeting followed by a Board Workshop.