2010-2011 BUDGET - Dramatic Changes for the School District
What We Anticipated
As of Monday of this week, Trenton was telling superintendents to prepare to lose 5 percent, 10 percent or 15 percent of state aid. For the past few years, Westfield has received a total of $5 million from the state. In the worst case scenario, a loss of 15 percent of state aid, we would have been cut $750,000. Although some of the cuts would have been difficult, I had worked with the Finance Committee of the Board of Education and we had created a budget that anticipated this cut.
What Has Changed
In the budget address of the Governor yesterday, he announced that each school district could be cut an amount equal to 5 percent of the current budget. A cut of 5 percent of our budget is a loss of $4.2 million. Westfield's state aid could be cut 92 percent. All the rules have changed today.
We Must Work Together to Maintain Westfield's Tradition of Excellence
I don't have the exact figures from Trenton yet, but we know we will have significantly more cuts than we had been led to expect. We have to prepare for the worse in the next 5 days, since we are expected to present a budget to the County Superintendent on Tuesday, March 23. The final budget must be adopted by the Board on March 30.
I have sent an e-mail to all staff members asking for their thoughts. I am meeting today (March 17) with all administrators, all presidents of our association, and I've arranged a meeting for the entire staff. I invite the community to send their suggestions. I will continue to work with the Finance Committee to provide quality education to our students as we in Westfield face this unprecedented challenge together.
The Board accepted with regret the retirement of the following staff with their last day of employment being 6/30/10:
• Diana Collins - Jefferson School, 4th grade, who has taught Jefferson School students for 21 years;
• Carol Gerson - Edison School, Guidance Counselor, who has served the students in Westfield for 26 years;
• Janet Harrison - School Psychologist in Special Services, who has helped Westfield students for 23 years;
• Angela LaCarruba - Wilson School, 2nd Grade, who has taught Westfield students for 26 years; and
• Karen Yula - Jefferson School, Music, who has taught music in Westfield Public Schools for 33 years.
The Board approved the memorandum of agreement between the Westfield Association of Educational Secretaries (WAES) and the Westfield Board of Education for the period of 7/01/09 through 6/30/12. This contract will save the district money, with health insurance costs reduced as of April 1, 2010. Finance Chair Julia Walker, who chaired the Board's negotiating team, recognized the cooperation of the WAES and asked that the same spirit continues the next few days and weeks as we work together to solve the newest fiscal challenges for the district.
Business Administrator Bob Berman reported on some of the consequences of the very heavy rain and wind that we experienced last weekend. The administration building on Elm Street had water on the stairwells; at Roosevelt Intermediate School, water was found in a tunnel that houses some maintenance pipes; Franklin had some water in the hallway; and Westfield High School's Gym 5, Varsity Gym, stage and band room experienced water leakage. The maintenance crews worked on the weekend to clean and dry the affected areas.
Ann Cary, Chairperson of the Policies Committee, reported that on Saturday, March 20, the second full day meeting of the Strategic Planning Council will take place. She reminded the Board that the strategic planning process was launched following the conclusion of the district's Community Survey. She suggested we refer to the community's priorities that resulted from the survey as we move ahead with budget decisions.
CURRICULUM, INSTRUCTION & PROGRAMS
The Board approved for first reading:
U.S. History 1/Defining the Identify of the United States
U.S. History 1/Honors/ Defining the Identify of the United States
Advanced Placement Spanish Language
Computer Applications and Web Site Design
In addition to the concerned comments from all the Board members regarding the challenge facing the district following the Governor's Budget Address, Ann Cary reported that the Commissioner of Education announced that the 2011 school election has been changed to Wednesday, April 27. Passover is on the original date, April 19. We had inquired about this conflict in October and November when we were in the midst of developing the school calendar, but no change had been made at that time.
The Optimist Club of Westfield has announced that the deadline for receipt of nominations for the Intermediate School Outstanding Teacher Award is Wednesday, April 7. Two intermediate school teachers - one from Edison and one from Roosevelt Intermediate Schools - will be chosen to receive the award on May 12 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: firstname.lastname@example.org
WESTFIELD HIGH SCHOOL
10 Westfield High School students scored a perfect 800 on SAT1 or SAT2 tests administered between October and December 2009. Approximately one-half of one percent of the more than 1.4 million students taking the SAT score a perfect 800. The Westfield High School students include: Mary Ajodah- Critical Reading and Writing, Michal Sagal- Writing, Alison Ricardo- Writing, Danielle Fields- Critical Reading and Writing, and (back row l-r): Kamil Lupicki- Writing, Darla Stabler- Writing, Kelly Sullivan- Critical Reading, Andrew Gates- Math 2, and Michael Oster- Writing, and Jessica Margolies- Critical Reading and Writing).
The Westfield Parent Teacher Council presents the 17th annual Awareness Expo to be held Wednesday, March 24, from 7:00 - 10:00 p.m. at Edison Intermediate School. The program is free and open to the public. In addition to the 11 speakers who will be presenting, the "Make a Difference Award" will be given to the family of the late Janet McCann, a beloved teacher whose death was a tragic loss for the school district. The student councils of Roosevelt and Edison each will receive an Honorable Mention recognition for raising money last year for autism.
Congratulations to Franklin students Sara Frankel, Olivia Hamilton, and Alex Jackman who received an "Honorable Mention" from the 2010 Toshiba/National Science Teachers Association's Exploravision competition for their invention of a hybrid car called "Nature's Ride". The Honorable Mention award places the team's project among the top 10% of all ExploraVision entries submitted to the competition this year. The students were commended for a job well done in demonstrating innovative thinking in their exploration of science and its impact on technology and the future.
And more good news from Franklin School - Fifth grader Michael Hauge finished second in the 4th and 5th Grade State Spelling Bee, sponsored by the New Jersey State Federation of Women's Clubs and held in New Brunswick on March 14. Michael qualified for the State Spelling Bee by winning the Liberty District Spelling Bee in Kearny on February 20, after winning the Westfield Spelling Bee. Franklin fourth grader Rohan Varkey, who was the second place winner in Westfield, finished fourth at the Liberty District Spelling Bee.
NEXT BOE MEETING - Tuesday, March 23. The Board will continue its discussion of the 2010-2011 budget.
Margaret Dolan, Ed.D. Superintendent of Schools