Letters to the Editor

Synopsis of Westfield Board of Education Meeting April 25



The Board unanimously adopted the school district budget for the 2017-2018 school year.  The budget, which was adopted on a tentative basis by the Board on March 16, was approved by the Executive County Superintendent of Schools on April 7, 2017.

Dana Sullivan, Business Administrator, presented a summary highlighting the financial and educational aspects of the budget. She gave examples of the high level of academic accomplishments by our students and noted that the majority of the budget is allocated toward instruction.

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  • The total budget, which includes special revenue and debt service, is $106,829,072 with an operating budget of $103,481,072.
  • The budget demonstrates the district’s record of efficient spending and is lower than the state adjusted CAP.
  • State aid remains flat. Percent of budget supported by the State decreases every year.
  • The average increase to homeowners is $248.
  • Westfield continues to maintain its cost per pupil at less than similar school districts and the state average.
  • The budget will include an increase of 4 teachers (3 in special education and 1 at the intermediate level), investments in technology and maintaining district programs at a level of excellence.
  • Within the capital reserve funds, the district will replace the track and turf at Kehler Stadium as well as locker room renovations at RIS and EIS, HVAC control upgrades, and classroom renovations.
  • The district’s maintenance reserve will include the funding of ceiling and lighting replacements, resurfacing and replacing floors, painting, concrete repairs and HVAC repairs.




Paul Pineiro, Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum, Instruction and Program, was joined by Master Technology teachers Jeanine Gottko (K-8) and Adam Pizzi (9-12) to discuss the strides in technology which have taken place since the district launched its Walls to Windows initiative a few years ago.  The trio underscored the growth of teacher use of technology in the classroom and the fluidity of its function.  Ms. Gottko introduced the SAMR (Substitution, Augmentation, Modification, Redefinition) framework incorporated in measuring the growth of technology as it enhances curriculum and provided examples of technology use across the district. Both Ms. Gottko and Mr. Pizzi attested to the peer collaboration that has been cultivated at all levels among teachers.  They gave examples of the platform utilized in teaching – Google Classroom – which enables teachers to push out assignments electronically, and while still in the classroom, give instant feedback to the students. A video shown by Mr. Pizzi at the meeting featured Westfield High School teachers describing the impressive tasks undertaken that would not have been possible without technology.  The teacher testimonials supported the district’s philosophy which emphasizes that technology isn’t the starting point for these activities. It is a tool, albeit a transformative tool, that provides more options for student-driven problem solving.

Mr. Pineiro stressed that professional development was a key component of technology’s success in the Westfield Public Schools.  He also noted that the ability of the Master Technology teachers to work side by side with individual teachers has proven to be most valuable. 

In planning for the future, Mr. Pineiro stated two essential goals:

  1. To support teachers and administrators in their continued growth in the use of technology; and
  2. To enhance learning through integration of technology.



  • The Board unanimously approved the appointment of Enrique Pincay as Supervisor of World Languages and ELL (English Language Learners), effective August 1, 2017.  Mr. Pincay currently holds that position in the Hillsborough Township Public Schools, a school district with nine schools and 7,500 students.  With 11 years of experience as a supervisor, 9 years as a teacher and two years as a bilingual/ESL consultant, Mr. Pincay comes to us highly qualified.  A graduate of Kean University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Bilingual Education, Mr. Pincay achieved a Master of Arts from Rutgers University in Teaching Methodology and Best Practices.  He also holds a supervisor certificate issued by the state of New Jersey. 


  • The Board accepted with regret the following retirements effective July 1, 2017:
    • Dara Bonavita – Jefferson School, Library –a librarian in Westfield for 24 years;
    • Patricia Cheek – Franklin School, Secretary – a department or school secretary since 1999;
    • Dona Panagos – Roosevelt Intermediate School -- a Mathematics teacher in Westfield for 40 years; and
    • Jerzy Romaniecki – Edison Intermediate School, Custodian – serving the Westfield Public Schools for 17 years.

            We wish them well in their retirements and thank them all for their years of service.



The Board approved a resolution to submit a grant entitled The 2017 Safety Entitlement in the amount of $25,526.64 to the New Jersey Schools Insurance Group.  The project goal is to repair or replace sidewalks leading to the schools to provide safe access.




  • The Board approved for second reading the following policies:  1510 – Americans with Disabilities Act (Administration) and 8505 – Wellness/Nutrition (Operations).
  • The Board affirmed my decision on one HIB incident.




  • The Board approved district field trips to correlate with curriculum.
  • The Board approved for second reading the following curricula:



Mathematics, Grade 6

Mathematics, Grade 7

Mathematics, Grade 8

Pre-Algebra, Grade 7

Algebra I, Grade 8


Social Studies:

Comparative Religions

Introduction to Law



  • The Board approved for first reading the following curricula: 
    Physical Education: 
    Physical Education, Grade 9 
    Physical Education, Grade 10 
    Physical Education, Grade 11 
    Physical Education, Grade 12 

    Practical Arts:
  • Wood Working I
  • Wood Working II



The Board gratefully accepted the following gifts:

  • $9,350 from an anonymous donor to Franklin School to purchase 30 Chromebooks and a Chromebook cart. 
  • $8,025 from the McKinley PTO to McKinley School to purchase 25 Chromebooks and a Chromebook cart.
  • $3,059 from the McKinley PTO to purchase 100 folding chairs to replace older chairs at McKinley School. 
  • $500 from Mr. Richard Cheng to Roosevelt Intermediate School to purchase technology.
  • $250 from the Weinreb-Berenda-Carter Foundation, Inc. in memory of Dr. Ruth W. Berenda to support the Instrumental Music Program at Tamaques School.
  • $548.50 from the Westfield Coalition for the Arts to cover travel expenses for the Westfield High School Wind Ensemble’s concert performance at the New Jersey State Band Gala on 4/30/17; and
  • Four lateral art filing cabinets valued at $450 from Ms. Suzanne Hanas to Roosevelt Intermediate School.




  • .Amy Root reported that Roosevelt Intermediate School will be holding a spaghetti dinner this Friday.  A year end field day project is being planned.  Mrs. Root is among those on a search committee to replace retiring principal, Stewart Carey, who will be missed.  Mrs. Root also reported that the Parent Teacher Council (PTC) BRAKE’S Committee sponsored Crossing Guard Appreciation Day on April 21.  Lastly, at the PTC meeting on April 20, the PTO presidents shared assembly ideas and cost-sharing landscaping projects.
  • Michael Bielen reported that at the Westfield Memorial Library meeting, it was announced that the Friend’s book sale was taking place this week. 
  • Gretchan Ohlig, who is liaison for Westfield High School, thanked the WHS-PTSO for its successful fundraiser to install window air conditioners in those classrooms still without AC.  She noted that the hope was that the energy costs will be offset by the solar installation on the school’s roof.




Through the years, we have observed that each periodical uses different criteria for their high school rankings.  Using various methodologies, Newsweek has ranked Westfield High School #67 in the country and NJ Monthly’s most recent ranking placed WHS 8th in the state.  This week, US News & World Report did not include Westfield High School in its ranking.  PARCC was used as the first step in the publication’s assessment for ranking high schools. Since Westfield High School students traditionally earn high scores on the SAT, ACT, and Advanced Placement exams, a significant percentage of our High School students opted to meet NJ graduation requirements through those tests instead.  PARCC is an assessment that has been politicized, it is a moving target, and because there are other measures for graduation requirements, a number of our students don’t take it seriously.  It is very difficult to make a valid comparison of high schools using PARCC as the first criteria.





I asked the Board for a moment of silence to honor the legacy of Dr. Ted Kozlik who passed away last week.  Dr. Kozlik was the Assistant Superintendent of Pupil Services in the Westfield Public Schools for 24 years, retiring from the district in 2011.  He played a large role in the district and was an important mentor to many, including to our current Assistant Superintendent, Dr. Michael Weissman.  



  • Congratulations to the Westfield Debate Team of Owen Mason and Mira Mehta who won the middle school public forum division, besting 35 other teams at the Lakeland Westchester Classic on March 3 and 4.  Earlier on January 20, three teams from Westfield swept first, second and third places in the public forum division of the Montville Middle School Invitational.  The teams included:  First place, Mira Mehta & Kailey Zhao; second place: Grace Endy & Owen Mason; and third place: Maya Dias & Mackenzie Wilson.


  • Congratulations to two Odyssey of the Mind teams from Edison Intermediate School who both placed first in their category as New Jersey State Champions.  They are advancing to the World Finals which will be held at Michigan State University from May 24 - 28when teams from more than 35 countries will compete in a long term problem and a spontaneous problem solving exercise. The Board of Education is inviting both teams and their volunteer coaches to our June 20 meeting to pay tribute to their state championship.  In the meantime, we wish them the best of luck in the World Finals in May.
  • Congratulations to teams from Edison and Roosevelt Intermediate Schools who won awards at the YMCA 8th Annual United Healthcare Health Bee on Tuesday, April 4 The Health Bee is a Jeopardy-style competition designed to get seventh grade students excited about health, fitness and nutrition. Participants from seven schools competed, with Edison Intermediate School winning 1stplace, earning a Grand Prize of $1,000 for its health and wellness programs, and Roosevelt Intermediate School winning a $250 prize and the School Spirit Award. 
  • Congratulations to Roosevelt Intermediate School teacher Brian Vieth who was presented with the 2017 Dedication to Education Award during a ceremony at Monmouth University on April 2.  Mr. Vieth also is an adjunct professor at Monmouth University where he teaches undergraduate men and women who will be entering the teaching profession. In a letter informing Vieth of the honor, the Executive Board of Kappa Delta Pi, the International Honor Society in Education, wrote, “They have chosen you for your extraordinary dedication and commitment to the field of education.” Mr. Vieth has been a teacher of Social Studies at Roosevelt Intermediate School for 20 years. 
  • Time is running short for receipt of nominations for the 20th annual Intermediate School Outstanding Teacher Award.  Students, parents and staff are encouraged to submit nomination letters no later than Friday, May 5.  Two intermediate school teachers – one from Edison and one from Roosevelt Intermediate Schools – will be chosen to receive the award on June 14 at an Optimist dinner, and will be honored at a Westfield Board of Education meeting on June 13. Nominations should specify ways in which a teacher, guidance counselor or nurse educator has demonstrated outstanding teaching, interest in children and continued pursuit of professional growth.  The nominee must be full-time, teaching in the Westfield Public Schools in grades 6-8 for a minimum of five years.  Please send 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:


  • Congratulations to Westfield High School Social Studies teachers Elizabeth Piombino and Joseph Berardi, who have been invited as fellows in the Woodrow Wilson HistoryQuest Institute in Princeton this summer. Their acceptance involved a competitive grant process in order to enter the renowned program which focuses on new ways to work with game-like learning in the social studies classroom.  
  • Congratulations to Dan Farabaugh who been accepted to the Supreme Court Summer Institute week-long program in Washington D.C.  Mr. Farabaugh will have the opportunity to collaborate with teachers from around the country to create and use a variety of interactive strategies to teach students about the U.S. Supreme Court and its cases.  Participants will also visit the Supreme Court, meet with deputies of the Court to learn how the court operates, and participate in a Moot Court based a recent case. 
  • Congratulations to Westfield High School’s Diversity Committee, which sponsored a celebration of cultural identity on Friday, April 28, in the WHS Cafeteria.  Attendees enjoyed student performances and food representing different traditions.


WHS – Visual & Performing Arts

  • Congratulations to 17-year-old Audrey Leonard who recently won second place in her age group in the New Jersey Department of Transportation’s Aviation Art Contest. This year’s theme was “Beyond the Clouds.” Audrey, who attends Westfield High School and the Union County Vo Tech, gave credit to her teachers.  She said, “Certain teachers at Westfield High School, such as Dr. Ruggieri and Mrs. Jarvis, really pushed me out of my comfort zone, taught me a lot and helped me get a better understanding of different mediums.”  Another of Leonard’s artwork will be formally displayed with other entries in a public ceremony on Saturday, May 13, at Merck’s Kenilworth facility.
  • Congratulations to Westfield High School senior Dale Beyert who was selected to perform in the All-Eastern Honors Concert Band in Atlantic City.  According to the All-Eastern Music Association, Beyert, a trumpet player, is among “the most musically talented high school students in the Eastern region of the United States.” 
  • Congratulations to the Drama Department of Westfield High School.  The fall production of ​Romeo & Juliet received the following Montclair State University “Foxy Award” Nominations​ (formerly called the "Theatre Night Awards"): Outstanding Production of a Classical Play; Outstanding Achievement in Stage Combat; Charlotte Fountain-Jardim - Outstanding Performance by a Lead Actress in a Classical Play; Julian Mazzola - Outstanding Performance by a Supporting Actor in a Classical Play;  Abigail Connolly - Outstanding Performance by a Supporting Actress in a Classical Play; and Daniel Devlin - Outstanding Achievement in Stage Direction. Winners will be announced at a ceremony at Montclair State University on Monday, May 15 at 7:00 P.M.
  • Congratulations to Westfield High School for receiving the following awards at the Bucks County Student Theatre Festival:
    • Best Overall Production - For Whom the Southern Belle Tolls, and
    • Best Actress in that production - Emme Nadeau, and
    • Best Comic Duo - Catie Barry and Julian Mazzola
    • In the production of Five Women Wearing the Same Dress, Sydney Stewart won the Best Featured Actress award.


The next meeting of the Westfield Board of Education will be held on Tuesday, May 9, at 7:00 PM at one of our elementary schools.  We will honor the Philhower Elementary Teacher of the Year that evening, and as is our tradition, the meeting will be held in that teacher’s school.   We will announce the location on our website.  The complete agenda will be available on Friday, May 5, on the Board’s website.

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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