Dear Friends & Neighbors:

During the years that my daughters, Elizabeth and Caroline, attended McKinley School and now at Edison Intermediate School, I have witnessed the commitment of the teachers and staff and the impact they have on their students. Their continued dedication has inspired me to again run to serve on the board of education and give back to Westfield.

There was a message I heard two years ago that was again repeated to me this past week. When we face a crucial moment we need to go “all in.” We need to make a total commitment to a course of action that we believe in. We often focus on the problems rather than what is working well and how can we do more of it and do it better. We need to do it better for the students, the teachers, the administrators and the taxpayers.

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We can look at the rankings, where in 2016 Newsweek ranked Westfield the 67th best high school in the nation or New Jersey Monthly ranked us 8th in New Jersey, and stay comfortable the way we are. Or we can look for new ideas that will benefit our community as a whole and continue to make a difference for our children.

I am running to become a member of the Westfield Board of Education to ensure that my daughters, their friends and all the children in the school district can build a strong learning foundation that will provide them better opportunities as they look toward college and entering the workforce.

We continue to remain in a very challenging environment with very limited state aid, expanded enrollment, a property tax cap and a large dependence on revenue from our residents. By increasing revenue and reducing costs in some areas, we can expand program offerings to benefit our students. Specifically, areas I would like to address include:

  • Identifying alternative revenue streams including licensing and an alumni fund to continue our high quality level of education and course availability, extracurricular activities and athletic programs while limiting costs passed along to the taxpayer.
  • Partnering with the Town of Westfield and neighboring towns to identify shared services that can provide cost savings for redundant services.
  • Exploring options to cost effectively offer full-day kindergarten whether it be through the reuse of existing school managed facilities or identifying alternate facilities we can utilize in the area.
  • Identifying new opportunities to continue to expand our EPA Energy Star awarded school energy program to continue to reduce utility costs
  • Updating technology to streamline processes and reduce support costs by looking cloud computing options, expanding our use of the bring your own device program and identifying the most cost effective course of action to ensure our systems do not encounter lengthy downtimes for both students and teachers when service is required.
  • Investing in technology resources and training for our teachers so they can properly prepare our students to become part of a 21st Century workforce and offer our teacher’s expanded career paths for success as found in the private sector.
  • Developing a formalized program where students working on service award projects can initiate projects to beautify and enhance our school programs or facilities.
  • Coordinating small group sessions to listen to residents, students, parents and teachers to hear their ideas and concerns regarding our academic, extracurricular and athletic programs.

Most importantly, we need to ensure transparency, common sense and the advice of knowledgeable professionals rather than one’s own self-interested opinion or those of a vocal minority.

As an 18-year resident of Westfield, I have an understanding of the municipal and school departments, the budget process and how to partner with our civic leaders to ensure the BOE has open transparent communication to benefit all residents and students.

As a parent of two eighth grade students, I hear nightly at the dinner table a slice of their academic and extracurricular activities and the challenges students encounter each day.

As a leader who has always shown a willingness to work with others, I have put my time and talent to previously work on behalf the Town of Westfield implementing our technology and social media infrastructure.

As a member of the Board of Education, I can offer my very best to represent our community. I look forward to bringing my technology background, creativity and problem solving experience, together with fiscal prudence, to the board of education for the benefit of our students, teachers, school administrators, and ultimately for all Westfield residents.

I, like many other parents, consider Westfield our home because of the academic excellence of Westfield Public Schools. We can all be proud of the education system in Westfield. Our student achievements, test scores, trophies, awards and college acceptances highlight our accomplishments. Recognition aside, all of us need to lead by example to ensure we are raising our children who are our future leaders to have the moral convictions and character that they are proud to say, “Yes! I am from Westfield!” and I attended “Westfield Public Schools”.

I humbly ask for your support and would appreciate it if share this message with your friends and neighbors and encourage them to vote for me by selecting “Column 2 Board of Education – Michael Bielen” on Tuesday, Nov. 8.