Letters to the Editor

Synopsis of Westfield Board of Education Meeting Jan. 24



As an outcome of our 2016-2021 Strategic Plan developed last year, I introduced district goals in September 2016 aimed at continuing Westfield’s Tradition of Excellence in the 2016-2017 school year. Following is a report on the mid-year status of those District Goals. 

Goal 1 - Resiliency 
To encourage resiliency among our staff, we provided professional development in September 2016 following planning sessions that were held in August. Based on feedback from participants, additional workshops have been developed for the February 2017 in-service day.  Working with community resources, we also held additional workshops for counselors, teachers, parents and students.

Goal 2 – Parent Outreach Program

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A parent focus group was formed resulting in improvements to our web site, increased parent information sessions and online resources on areas of interest, including parenting skills, time management, resiliency, and safe use of technology.   Information sessions have been well publicized and well attended. 

Goal 3 – Collaborative Learning

Over the summer, teachers were offered three days of optional courses focused on online course management .  Professional development was held in September, and expanded workshops will be held during the February 17 in-service day.  To date, 23 school professional development courses have been offered to teachers. The Master Technology teachers also provide online and in person support for teachers.




The Board accepted with regret the retirement of Lester Hyland, Maintenance Mechanic.  He was a valued member of the district maintenance department for over 30 years.  He will be missed by his department and by all in the school district who have benefitted from his talents.

The Board accepted the job description for the Director of Special Projects.


Board President, Gretchan Ohlig, reported that at the February 7 Board of Education meeting, the Westfield Soccer Association will present a proposal regarding Kehler Stadium.



  • The Board approved for first reading the following policies: 1110 – Organizational Chart (Administration); 3144 – Certification of Tenure Charges (Teaching Staff Members); 3144.12 – Certification of Tenure Charges – Inefficiency (Teaching Staff Members); 3146 – Conduct of Reduction in Force (Teaching Staff Members); 4125 – Employment of Support Staff Members (Support Staff Members); 8330 – Pupil Records (Operations); and 8630 – Bus Driver/Bus Aide Responsibility (Operations).


  • The Board reviewed the 2015-2016 District and School Self-Assessment Report for Determining Grades under the Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights Act­. As required by the New Jersey Department of Education, every public school must conduct self-assessments by the school safety team to demonstrate compliance to the anti-Bullying Bill of Rights Act.  In August, the Board approved the submission of the School Self-Assessment reports to the NJDOE.  The State has reviewed these numbers and issued final grade reports which reflect the good work our schools are doing.  We continue to work with our students to emphasize respect and the appropriate way to treat one another.  Our job is never over in this regard. 


  • The Board affirmed my decision on four Harassment, Intimidation and Bullying (HIB) incidents.



  • The Board approved for second reading the following curricula:


AP Biology II


Gifted Program:

Examination of Point of View through Debate

Introduction to Physics



  • The Board approved for first reading the following curricula:


Elementary Mathematics


Social Studies:

Debate:  Examining Point of View

Fundamental Principles of Economics and Personal Finance


  • The Board approved district field trips to correlate with curriculum.



The Board gratefully accepted the following gifts:  $3,493.75 from the Westfield High School PTSO toward the purchase of new uniforms for the marching band and $556.39 from the Franklin School PTO to purchase Lego Robotics to be used in the after-school program.


Amy Root explained that at the January 19 PTC meeting, Chief Technology Officer, Brian Auker, reported that training had taken place with the PTO newsletter editors to familiarize them with Constant Contact.  The district has contracted with Constant Contact to improve online delivery of the newsletters to parents and to offer a more attractive and efficient method of communication.

Chris Langhart reported that at the Recreation Commission meeting, there was further discussion regarding the turfing of Tamaques Park field.


Two Westfield residents, Pam Brug and Lydia Kaplan, who co-moderate a Facebook page on safety, addressed the Board to encourage the district to continue to provide programs to prevent students from feeling isolated.  Gretchan Ohlig welcomed their input and ideas.

Liz Mulholland, Legislative Chair for the PTC, updated the Board on state and national proposals regarding education.  Ms. Mulholland, who regularly attends legislative sessions in Trenton, reported that since 2010, charter school enrollment almost doubled, with currently more requests for additional privately run charter schools.  She noted that language in the proposals refers to charters using public school facilities with renovations paid for by the public and charters not adhering to the same regulations as public schools. 



  • Congratulations to Westfield High School’s Model United Nations Club.  A delegation of 183 students participated in wide ranging debates at the YMCA Model United Nations Conference in Hershey, PA January 6 - 8.  Following months of research and preparation, Westfield High School received several awards, including the Outstanding Delegation Award that is presented to one school who excelled the best in all parts of the conference. The following individual students were individually recognized:  Charlotte Perez and Nicole Eisenberg were recognized as top debaters and named Premier Diplomats.  Jared Greenspan and Marissa Lireceived an award for the Outstanding Country Research Paper.  Acknowledged for an Outstanding First Year were: Jessie Katz, Alex Joseph, Andrew Kapadia, and Brad Hornbeck. Officers for the Conference included Ben Halevy, Spencer Fishman, Olivia Kuzman, Victoria Napolitano, and Lucy Hale. Officers elected for next year’s Conference who will plan, organize and run committees areSaranya Turimella and Marlo Avidon. This summer a Conference on National Affairs will take place during two weeks in North Carolina with representatives from all 50 states.  Westfield High School will be represented by Victoria Napolitano, Spencer Fishman, Samantha Della Fera, Lucy Hale, and Evan Gruters. Co-advisors Daniel Farabaugh and David Della Fera noted that they were impressed with both the level of preparation and execution of the students’ work.  The Westfield High School program is run in conjunction with the Westfield YMCA.


  • Congratulations to Westfield High School’s Science Olympiad Team, which placed among the top six medalists at the January 11th regional competition held at the New Jersey Institute of Technology.  Earning medals for skills involving science and technology were: Ethan Manning and Samantha Shih for 3rd place in Write It Do It; Sara Frankel and Lotte Seltzer for 3rd place in Wind Power; Natalia Zeller-MacLean and Jack Cunningham for 5th place in Electric Vehicles; Camden Beinhaker and Lily Talmont for 5th place in Helicopters; and Morgan Miovski, Uma Lakshman and Sloan Slusher for 6th place in Protein Modeling. The team is now preparing for competition at the Princeton Invitational on February 4 and for the state competition on March 7 at Middlesex County College. We wish the students and their advisors, Westfield High School Science teachers Dr. Dana Philipps and Dr. Louis Casagrande, continued success.


  • Congratulations to seven 11th graders who each earned a perfect score of 36 on the ACT administered in December.  Receiving a score of 36 in English were Michael Canabarro, Saranya Turimella, Timothy McAuliffe, and Julia Buoscio. Top scores were earned by Thomas Omberg in Science, by Caroline Stockwell in Reading, and by Yenteen Hu in both Math and STEM.



  • Congratulations to Blue Devils Head Coach Jim DeSarno, who has been selected Football Coach of the Year at the state level.  Coach DeSarno, also an assistant principal at Westfield High School, received a letter of recognition from the National Federation of State High School Associations who wrote, “Congratulations on being selected to represent all the deserving coaches from your state.  And thank you for your many contributions to our youth.” 


  • Congratulations to the boys swim team for capturing the Union County title. The Blue Devils totaled 459 points, while Scotch Plains-Fanwood finished second with 378. Westfield set county records in three relay events: 200 Medley Relay, 200 Freestyle Relay and the 400 Freestyle Relay. Individually, David Lindros won the 100 Backstroke. We wish the team continued success.



  • Congratulations to our 2017 School Geography Bee Champions.  From Edison Intermediate School: 1st Place - Max Scialabba (Grade 8), 2nd Place - Fiona Strout (Grade 7), and 3rd Place - Ryan Gasson (Grade 6). From Roosevelt Intermediate School: 1stPlace - Dylan Ferraro (Grade 7), 2nd Place-  Zach Ashare (Grade 6), and 3rd Place -  Justin Shen (Grade 8).
  • Both first place winners will sit for a State Qualifying Test to determine if they will advance to the State competition that will be held this April.  We wish Dylan and Max continued success.



This year marks the 70th annual of the Washington School Show, with performances on Friday, January 27 at 8 PM and Saturday, January 28, at both 1:30 PM and 7 PM at Roosevelt Intermediate School. This year’s original adaption, #Hack to the Future, features a 150-person cast, ensemble and crew entirely made up of Washington Elementary School parents. Funds raised from the show will be donated to the Parent Teacher Organization to support Washington Elementary, along with several charities. 


In response to interest expressed on the topic, all Westfield parents are invited to free parent education presentations on time management.  There will be two sessions, each led by Youth & Family Counseling Service professional counselor Carol Pedro.  They will be held at 7:00 PMat Franklin School – Thursday, January 26, and at 7:00 PM at Tamaques School – Tuesday, January 31. Parents will learn effective time management for daily routines including tips for helping children organize their homework.



On Monday, January 16, I was pleased to attend the March and the Interfaith Commemorative Service honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. As always, the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Association of Westfield planned a very meaningful tribute, with the theme this year entitled “Bridging the Divide.”  Several of our students won awards for their interpretations of the theme.  From the intermediate schools, Mira Mehta (Edison) took first place in the essay category, Julian Hamilton (Roosevelt) took second, and Justin Anderson and Ava Pravlik (both from Edison) tied for third place. In art, Zaria Katz (Roosevelt) won first place, Kayla Turnoff (Roosevelt) second, and Grace Greenwood (Roosevelt) third.

From the elementary schools, Liam Morris (Jefferson) won first place in the essay category, Jessica Dong (Jefferson) won second, and Kate Guglielmo (Jefferson) and Garrett Gao (Tamaques) tied for third, while Sophia Marquet (Tamaques) earned an honorable mention.  In poetry, Nikolas Regas (Franklin) finished first, Erin Doherty (Jefferson) second, Kavi Agnihotri (McKinley) third and Grace Filiberto (Franklin) received an honorable mention. In art, Emma Clark (Jefferson) was awarded first place, Emma Jablonka (Wilson) second,  the Tamaques first grade classes captured third place, and Kaylie H. Gao (Franklin) and Charlie Jeckell (Franklin) received honorable mentions.



The next meeting of the Westfield Board of Education will be held Tuesday, February 7, at 7:30 PM at 302 Elm Street.  The complete agenda will be available on Friday, February 3.

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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