Letters to the Editor

Synopsis of Westfield Board of Education Meeting on April 5


The Board accepted with regret the retirement as of July 1, 2016, of Mary Jo Juelis – Jefferson School first grade teacher-- who has taught the children of Westfield since 1987.  We wish her the best in her retirement and thank her for her dedication to our students.


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Facilities Chair, Brendan Galligan, reported that the committee met to review the spring and summer projects, and began discussion relating to revising the fee structure for use of district facilities.


Ginny Leiz, Chair of the Long Range Planning Committee, reported on the District’s strategic planning efforts.  On February 6 and March 19, a cross section of the community met in a collaborative effort to help chart the course for the future of the Westfield Public Schools.  The next step will involve a consolidated report which would be submitted to the LRP Committee and will include objectives, quantify assessment, and time frames.  A report will be submitted to the full Board in a public meeting in June, and the administration will work over the summer to begin implementation of the plan.


  • The Board approved the Guidelines and Procedures for the 2016-2017 Student Activity Fee (per policy 2436 Student Activity Fee). The fee process, prepared with input from parents, remains the same as it has been for several years.  The Tier 1 activity fee is $125 and applies to participation in High School dramas, musicals and athletics and Intermediate School dramas, musicals and 8thgrade sports. The Tier 2 activity fee is $60 and includes all clubs and activities not in Tier 1 as well as All City Chorus, Band and Orchestra.  Regardless of how many activities a student participates in, the maximum per student fee is $125.  These fees subsidize approximately 14% of the actual costs. Families may inquire about financial assistance provided by the district from those adults in charge of the activity.


  • The Board approved for first reading the following policies:  2361 – Acceptable Use for Computer Network, Computers, Personal Electronic Devices (PEDs) and Technology Resources (Program); and 5330.01 – State Required Policy for Administration of Medical Marijuana (Pupils).


  • The Board approved for second reading the following policies:  3412 – Nonrenewal of a Non-tenured Teaching Staff Member (Teaching Staff Members); 3240 – Professional Development for Teachers and School Leaders (Teaching Staff Members); and 4140 – Termination (Support Staff Members).


  • The Board affirmed my decision on two HIB incidents.


  • Policies Chair, Christopher Langhart, reported that a meeting was held on April 4 to review the District’s Code of Conduct.  He expressed appreciation to all those who attended and participated in the positive discussion.



  • The Board approved three field trips correlated with curriculum.


  • The Board approved for second reading the following curricula:


            Social Studies -
            Holocaust/Genocide Grades K-12


            Health -
            Health Grades K-5, 9, 10, 11, and 12




  • The Board approved for first reading a Refunding Bond Ordinance which will save the Westfield School District $350,000 in interest payments.  The average interest rate for the total amount of bonds issued in 2006 was 4%, while the current rate is below 1.4%.  By refunding the bonds issued in the principal amount of $9,195,000 to a principal amount not exceeding $6,950,000, the significant savings can be realized.


  • The Board accepted a gift of $2,940.15 from the Franklin School PTO towards the purchase of Lego robotics kits and student headsets for Franklin School.



  • Peggy Oster reported on her attendance at the Special Education Awareness Expo.  She noted that the award ceremony that took place that evening as well as a presentation on anxiety and depression is airing on WHS-TV36.  Viewing days/times are listed on the Blue Devils TV website . 


  • Gretchan Ohlig participated as a panelist in a Discussion on Race hosted by the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Association of Westfield.  The event, which was held at Westfield High School on April 4, also included WHS Assistant Principal Derrick Nelson on the panel, as well as key leaders of the community.  Ms. Ohlig remarked that the well-attended event initiated helpful discussion regarding minorities and how they can be supported in Westfield.  She noted that she is hopeful it is the beginning of more to come.  





  • The Visual and Performing Arts Department of the Westfield Public Schools invites the public to attend any of the 33 musical events scheduled for this spring.  Approximately 2,500 students in grades kindergarten through high school will be performing district-wide.  The dates and locations for the spring concerts are posted on the district website


  • Westfield High School
    Congratulations to the Westfield High School Concert Band and the Symphonic Band for winning awards on March 17th at the annual Central Jersey Music Educators Association’s State Concert Band Festival.   Both received a Silver Rating in Division II. Congratulations to the Westfield High School Wind Ensemble which earned a Gold Rating in Division I for the 5th consecutive year. In addition to the March 17th competition held at Ridge High School, the Wind Ensemble will perform at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts in Philadelphia, PA on May 24th.
  • Intermediate Schools
    Congratulations to 8th grade drama students from Roosevelt Intermediate School who brought home several awards earned at the 2016 New Jersey Drama and Forensic League Theatrefest.  Presented with trophies at the annual competition held at Chatham Middle School on Saturday, March 19, were:  Vincent Mora - 2nd Place Dramatic Monologue; Julia Singer and Nina Martini - 4thPlace Comedic Pairs; Eva Boyes and Talia McRoberts - 5th Place Comedic Pairs; and Nina Martini, Alexandra Sica and Morgan Boll - Improvisation Scene Performance winners.
  • At our last Board meeting, we unfortunately omitted the names of two eighth graders from Edison Intermediate School who were selected for the Central Jersey Music Educators Association’s Region 2 ensembles.  Brooke Walden auditioned and was accepted into the Wind Ensemble as 1st Piccolo and received the highest score overall on piccolo in the region.  She auditioned and was also accepted into the Symphonic Band on flute and chose to play flute for the Symphonic Band.  Andrew Kapadia was the only percussionist at Edison to be selected for Region Band this year following his audition in which he played the snare drum, bass drum, tambourine, triangle, suspended cymbal, crash cymbal, as well as timpani.  Andrew and Brooke performed on March 28th at the Region 2 concert held at Montgomery High School. 




For the third consecutive year, a team of student volunteers from Westfield High School was presented with the Students Change Hunger award for collecting and donating food to the Community Food Bank of New Jersey.  A total of 2,918 pounds of food was collected, making Westfield High School the Division Six winner of the campaign, with more donations than Rutgers, Seton Hall, Kean University and other large educational institutions.  In addition, Westfield was named Second Runner-Up Heavy Weight, bringing in the third most of all 65 schools participating.  The Community Food Bank of New Jersey presented the awards to Westfield High School 11th graders Mark Kostyack, Cole Feltman, Jack Liebling, Chris Ng, Matt Stravach, Kevin Tsui, Ben Halevy, Jacob Davis, and Aidan Paul on March 30. Upon accepting the award, Cole Feltman, one of three original food campaign volunteers at WHS, stated, “I am very proud of our group, and I speak for all of us when I say: We love helping those in need.”




REMINDER:  Nominations for the 19th annual Optimist’s Intermediate School Outstanding Teacher Award are due Friday, April 29.  Two intermediate school teachers – one from Edison and one from Roosevelt Intermediate Schools – will be chosen to receive the award onJune 9 at an Optimist dinner, and will be honored at a Westfield Board of Education meeting on June 14. 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:



REMINDER:  Friday, April 22, is the deadline for nominations for the 24th 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 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 Friends of the Westfield Memorial Library Annual Book Sale will be held Tuesday, April 26 - Saturday, April 30. Anyone who would like to donate books can do so from Thursday, April 21 – Saturday, April 23, from 10 AM - 3 PM. Volunteers are needed to sort and place books on the shelves Sunday, April 24 and Monday, April 25.  Students seeking community service credits are encouraged to participate. Volunteers may e-mail or call Christine at 908-233-4599.



Westfield Public Schools will be closed for spring break from April 9 – 17. 


The next meeting of the Board will be Tuesday, April 26.  It will be the Public Hearing on the 2016-2017 School District Budget.  Information on the budget – which was tentatively approved by the Board on March 15 – is posted on the district website.


Enjoy the Spring Break with your families and friends.

The opinions expressed herein are the writer's alone, and do not reflect the opinions of or anyone who works for 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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