Letters to the Editor

Synopsis of Westfield Board of Education Meeting Feb. 28


2017- 2018 BUDGET

Business Administrator, Dana Sullivan, presented a report on the budget proposed for the 2017-2018 school year.  She noted that the Board starts working on the budget as early as October for the following school year.  In December 2016, the Board held a workshop to develop a Guiding Change Document to set parameters for the budget, resulting in these priorities: 

  • Invest in Technology
  • Maintain class size
  • Maintain courses recently approved by the Board
  • Stay within the 2% CAP plus eligible waivers
  • Increase emergency reserve account
  • Maintain a capital reserve account sufficient to cover the cost of replacing the track and turf at Kehler Stadium
  • Consider funding for Director of Development
  • Consider funding to support the district’s wellness program
  • Maintain funding for School Resource Officer
  • Reductions in areas where efficiencies were noted, not to programs


The increase to the operating budget is estimated at $1,947,783:

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  • Increase in health insurance                                   $    959,699
  • Increase of 1 intermediate school teacher                     65,000
  • Increase of 3 special education teachers                     225,000
  • Increase in salaries                                                     1,194,312
  • Increase in utilities, transportation & pension                 211,752
  • Decrease in special ed costs (non-staff)                      (445,758)
  • Decrease in all other accounts                                    (262,222)


The tax impact on the average homeowner would amount to approximately $248.  These figures are based on state aid being similar to last year.  Mrs. Sullivan stated that state aid for 2017-2018 should be released this week.  In a chart comparing similar school districts, it was again pointed out that Westfield’s cost per pupil is on the lower range and less than the state average as well.  Referring to a chart for staffing in 2017-2018, Mrs. Sullivan noted that at least 80% of the school district’s staff work directly with students.


In our schools we begin at a very young age to instill in our students respect for self, others and the community.  The importance of fostering respect is interwoven in curriculum for all grades and within the Code of Conduct.  For the adults in our community – including staff and parents – we hold appropriate trainings and workshops on topics such as responsible use of social media, legal updates, Board policy reviews, and the fostering of resiliency.   Programs for students include:  Social problem solving, character education (through assemblies and lessons), leadership programs, and programs in which our older students convey meaningful messages to our younger students.

Despite our efforts, there are occasions when conduct does not meet our expectations. The State requires school districts to report on Violence, Vandalism, and Substance Abuse and Harassment, Intimidation, and Bullying (HIB) twice a year.  I presented a report from the time period September 1 – December 31, 2016 that included the following incidents: 5 violence, 1 vandalism, 2 substance abuse, and 1 confirmed HIB case.


The Board accepted with regret the retirement of the following staff with their last day of employment on June 30, 2017:

            LINDA KING, Supervisor of Fine Arts K-12, who has served the district for 30 years;

            JEAN BREZINSKI, Elementary Instrumental Music, a teacher for 31 years;

            DAVID DAVIS, WHS World Languages (and previously WHS TV) a teacher for 26 years;

            DOMENICO DIDARIO, Washington Custodian, serving the district for 13 years;

            BARBARA LEPARULO, Edison Intermediate School Science teacher for 36 years;

            JOANNE PLY, Franklin Reading Specialist, teaching children for 17 years;

            TERESA SQUILLACE, Edison Intermediate School Science teacher for 27 years;

            DAVID TIFFENBACH, Franklin Paraprofessional, serving Westfield for 5 years.



  • Due to the mild winter thus far, if no additional snow or emergency days are used, schools will be closed on Monday, April 17(day after Spring Break) and Friday, May 26 (Friday of Memorial Day Weekend). If one more day snow day is used, schools will be open for students and staff on Friday, May 26.
  • The Board approved for first reading a revised 2018-2019 School Calendar. One snow day has been removed from the calendar (two remain) to enable school to end on a Friday, June 21, 2018 and WHS graduation to be held that day.  This decision was made following a good deal of feedback the Board received from parents regarding the original calendar proposal.
  • The Board approved for first reading the following policies: 2460 Special Education (Program), R2460.1 Special Education – Location, Identification, and Referral (Program), R2460.8 Special Education – Free and Appropriate Public Education (Program), 2460.9 Special Education – Early Intervention Program (EIP) Transition/IEP Implementation by Third Birthday (Program), R2460.15 Special Education – Special Education In-Service Training Needs for Professional and Paraprofessional Staff (Program), R2460.16 Special Education – Instructional Material to Pupils with Vision Loss or Print Disability, 2467 – Surrogate Parents and Foster Parents (Program), 3159 – School District Reporting Responsibilities (Teaching Staff), 3221 – Evaluation of Teachers (Teaching Staff), 3223 – Evaluation of Administrators (Teaching Staff), and 4159 – School District Reporting Responsibilities (Support Staff).
  • The Board approved for second 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 affirmed my decision on three Harassment, Intimidation and Bullying (HIB) incidents.


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


Technology Chair, Peggy Oster, noted that the budget presentation by Mrs. Sullivan was an excellent preview of the technology initiatives for the 2017-2018 school year.  At the Technology Committee’s last meeting, discussion took place regarding training that had taken place on Constant Contact – the new communication tool for school PTOs.  The committee also learned how teachers are being trained in Google Classroom as well as how students are using it.  Mrs. Oster reported that Brian Auker, Chief Information Officer, mentioned that as a result of parents asking about devices used in the schools, he will be devising a reference list which will be posted on our website. Lastly, the Committee agreed on taking next steps to develop a new roadmap for technology for the next few years.  


Mr. Garrison reported that on March 18, Wilson Elementary School will hold a Parent Social.  The school also is selling a cookbook as a fundraiser.

Michael Bielen attended a meeting of the Westfield Memorial Library Board, which is planning its spring book sale. 

Amy Root announced that the Special Education Expo will be held on March 15 at Edison Intermediate School from 7 – 10 PM.  It is free, open to public, with professional development credits for teachers who attend.  There will be approximately 10 speakers on various topics of interest.

Mrs. Root attended the Roosevelt PTO meeting, where there was much discussion regarding the school spirit initiative which would involve both staff and students.




  • Congratulations to seven Westfield High School students who each achieved the highest score of 36 on the ACT standardized tests widely used for college admission and placement criteria.  The scores were earned in December 2016 by these 11th graders:  Yenteen Hu – Math and STEM, Thomas Omberg – Science, and Caroline Stockwell – Reading.  Earning perfect scores in English were Timothy McAuliffe, Michael Canabarro, Saranya Turimella, and Julia Buoscio.

  • Congratulations to five Westfield High School seniors who have advanced as finalists in the 2017 National Merit Scholarship program, having met academic and other standards to become eligible for scholarships.  The program honors students who show exceptional academic ability and potential for success in rigorous college studies. In October, you may recall that we honored these students who, at that time, had earned semi-finalist ranking, placing them among the 1.1 percent of students who took the Preliminary SAT qualifying test.  Our congratulations and continued best wishes to Nicholas Youssef, Michael Hauge, Amy Liang, Olivia Hamilton and Soo Min Chung.  

  • On February 28, WHS TV students appeared on the set of Good Morning America.  Besides being audience members, their field trip consisted of a tour of the control room and a discussion with the show’s Production Assistant. Our own Board of Ed videographer, Hal Barnes, was among the 36 students in attendance, as well as TV teacher Jay Ruggiero, TV technician Kristine Kowalczuk and a parent chaperone.


Congratulations to Blue Devils’ freshman CJ Composto for winning the Region 4 Wrestling title for the 106-pound division at Union High School on Saturday, February 25. This win qualified CJ to compete at the state level in Atlantic City this Friday.


Edison Intermediate School Band Director, John Scozzaro, announced that Edison’s Woodwind Quintet has been accepted to perform in the Rose Studio at Lincoln Center on Thursday, May 25, at 11 AM.  The group entered a competition entitled the “Young Ensembles Program” intended for middle school chamber groups.  In addition to the opportunity to perform at this great venue, the students will receive two coaching sessions from artists of the Chamber Music Society.  The students involved are 8th graders Jamie Beyert, Ellery Wolf, Kailey Zhao, Aprina Wang, and Robbie Strauss.  Congratulations to these musicians and their teacher!


  • Claire Qin, a fourth grader from McKinley Elementary School, won the 31st Annual Junior Women’s Club of Westfield Spelling Bee. Michael Singh, a fifth grader from Jefferson Elementary came in second place. Emily Gao, a fifth grader from Washington Elementary came in third.  A total of 71 fourth and fifth grade students participated in the finals.  This win guaranteed each of the three students a spot in the New Jersey Federation of Women’s Clubs District Spelling Bee on February 18.  At this district level,Claire Qin earned honorable mention.  Emily Gao captured second place, securing a spot in next month’s State Spelling Bee on Saturday, March 4th at Rutgers University in New Brunswick. We congratulate our super spellers and wish Emily continued success. 
  • Congratulations to the students at McKinley Elementary School who collected over 3,800 cans of food and non-perishable items during the school’s annual “Soup”er Bowl Food Drive to benefit a local Food Pantry.  This annual event brings the school community together to remember those who are less fortunate.



The annual Special Education Awareness Expo will be held on Wednesday, March 15, from 7 – 10 PM in the Edison Intermediate School cafeteria.  Many presenters are on tap to discuss a variety of topics of interest to all parents and educators.  For more information, please contact WestfieldSpecialEdParents@gmail.com.


The Rotary Club of Westfield’s Breakfast with the Bands will be held on Saturday, March 18, at Westfield High School Cafeteria from 8 AM to Noon. Band ensembles from Westfield’s intermediate schools and the high school will be performing exclusively during a catered breakfast served by Rotarians with the assistance of members of the Interact Club.  Participating ensembles will include Edison Intermediate School Chamber Orchestra; Roosevelt Intermediate School Jazz Groups; Westfield High School’s 3 o’clock and 6 o’clock Stage Bands; the WHS Jazz Ensemble, and Edison’s Jazz Band. Tickets are $10 prior to the event and are available from members of the Rotary Club, the Interact Club and at the door on March 18.  For further information, contact 908-301-5410. To date, almost $3 million has been awarded by the Rotary to Westfield High School graduates to aid in funding their college educations.  Thousands of dollars also have been awarded to local non-profit agencies.


The next meeting of the Westfield Board of Education will be held on Tuesday, March 14, at 7:30 PM at 302 Elm Street.  A complete agenda will be available on the Board’s agenda website on Friday, March 10.

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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