Board of Education

Letters to the Editor

Synopsis of Westfield Board of Education Meeting on June 12, 2018


Board President Gretchan Ohlig presented resolutions on behalf of the Board of Education to secondary school staff members who received awards of excellence this spring. They included Michele Belz and Dominick Ceccio - teachers of special education at Edison and Roosevelt Intermediate Schools, respectively -  as recipients of this year’s Optimist Club’s Intermediate School Outstanding Teacher Award.  Also acknowledged were three Westfield High School teachers and one support staff member:  Brett Curtis, social studies teacher and recipient of the WHS PTSO’s Outstanding Teacher of the Year Award; English/journalism teacher Warren Hynes who received the Distinguished Teacher of the Year Award; mathematics teacher Anthony Meyers, awarded the Above and Beyond Award; and Marina Rogel, custodian and winner of the Robert and Linda Foose Memorial Award. On hand at the Board meeting to speak to the dedication and care shown by these professionals were Edison principal Matthew Bolton, Roosevelt principal Mary Asfendis, and WHS principal Derrick Nelson.



The Board approved a long list of business items and professional services to move forward into the new school year, including existing curricula, textbooks and policies; personnel responsibilities; tax and finance schedules and institutions; legal, auditing and insurance services; state contract vendors; and cooperative educational memberships.

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The Board approved a number of personnel items.   



Facilities Committee Chair Gretchan Ohlig reported that the appellate court hearing regarding the Kehler Stadium bid challenge went well and that the Board hopes for a ruling soon.



Long Range Planning Committee Chair Amy Root stated that the committee will meet next week to set district goals for 2018-2019.



The Board approved for first reading the following policies:

  • 5430 - Class Rank (Pupils)
  • 5431 - High School Grade Point Average (Pupils)
  • 5450 - Athletic Awards (Pupils)
  • 5460 - High School Graduation (Pupils)
  • 5561 - Use of Physical Restraints and Seclusion Techniques for Pupils with Disabilities (Pupils)
  • 7510 - Use of School Facilities (Property)


The Board approved for first reading to abolish the following policies:

  • 5465 - Early Graduation (Pupils)
  • 5466 - Graduation and Yearbook Fees (Pupils)


Ms. Ohlig noted that the Facilities Committee received useful feedback from community groups regarding the facilities use policy.  Policies Committee Chair Brendan Galligan reported no major changes to the other policies and that the substance of those to be abolished is contained in existing policies.


The Board approved the 2016-2017 District and School Self-Assessment Report for Determining Grades under the Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights Act and affirmed my decision on three HIB incidents.



The Board approved for first reading the following curricula:



Geometry/Geometry Honors/Advanced Placement Geometry



Elementary Science


World Languages

World Languages, Grade 6

World Languages, Grade 7

World Languages, Grade 8


The Board approved overnight field trips correlated with curriculum.


Curriculum, Instruction and Programs Committee Chair Michael Bielen stated that, at its May 24 meeting, the committee discussed the new hands-on science program for Grades 1-5 as well as a Grade 3 mathematics pilot program called “Up the Ladder.”  Mr. Bielen reported that the committee also reviewed the high school geometry curricula along with world languages at the intermediate level.



The Board accepted with appreciation a gift of two standing desks from valued at $374.95 for Roosevelt Intermediate School.



Technology Committee Chair Peggy Oster reported on the committee’s meeting on June 8 at which members were joined by Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum, Instruction and Programs Paul Pineiro, Chief Technology Officer Brian Auker and Master Technology Teachers Jeanine Gottko and Adam Pizzi who provided a summary of year-round technology professional development for staff.   Mrs. Oster praised Ms. Gottko and Mr. Pizzi as important technology resources for our teachers.  She also noted that the new district website is on schedule to be fully operational by August 1.



Board member Michael Bielen reported on the Westfield Memorial Library committee’s discussion of tutoring.


Board member Amy Root mentioned that new officers for the PTC and PTO have been named for the 2018-2019 school year. Mrs. Root noted that monthly meetings of the PTC -- originally held on Thursdays -- will move to Wednesdays for 2018-2019 and encouraged all to attend these informative meetings.


Board member Kent Diamond reported that Tamaques School recently held a charity volleyball game, raising $3,511 towards the purchase of a new roof for the Westfield Neighborhood Council’s community center.


Ms. Ohlig reported on a meeting of the Westfield High School PTSO at which new officers were announced.  


I reported that Ms. Ohlig and I attended the Westfield Rotary Club’s annual Scholarship Awards Ceremony luncheon on June 12 at which scholarships totaling nearly $100,000 were awarded to local college-bound students. It is always an inspiring event.






WHS freshmen members of the Westfield Debate Team Mira Mehta  and Kailey Zhao were recent quarterfinalists at the 43rd University of Pennsylvania Tournament and semi-finalists at the state championship of the New Jersey Speech and Debate League. The Westfield Debate Team is a partnership of the Westfield Public School District, the Westfield Parent-Teacher Council Gifted Education Committee and the Westfield Area YMCA. The team consists of 24 members from Westfield High School and Edison and Roosevelt Intermediate Schools.  Past debate topics have included the repeal of the capital gains tax, authorization of military force and whether college athletes should be paid.




The Student Government Association at Edison Intermediate School recently conducted “Patriot Donation 2018” for the Menlo Park Veterans Memorial Home, collecting nearly 500 toiletry items for the veterans.  Special thanks to SGA advisor Andrew Cusumano and to all who contributed.




Franklin Elementary School staff members teamed up on May 29, playing a charity volleyball game to raise money for a scholarship in honor of former student Jake Tooley.  Through ticket sales, concessions, raffles and donations, the best-of-three series held at the Westfield High School gymnasium raised $5,807.10 to go to the Jake Tooley Scholarship.  The event was organized by 5th grade teacher Daria Gerber.  Jake’s mother and brother attended and helped to flip the coin to decide which team served first.


Two teams from McKinley and Wilson Elementary Schools competed in the World Finals Tournament of the Odyssey of the Mind, an international educational program that provides creative problem-solving opportunities for students. The tournament was held last month in Ames, Iowa with approximately 50 of the best teams from across the globe competing.


The Wilson School Team placed 5th in the World Finals, with team members as follows:


  • Emma Crall, Grade 3
  • Ted Crall, Grade 5
  • Michael Fisher, Grade 5  (Franklin student)
  • Jake Park, Grade 5
  • Logan Partridge, Grade 3
  • Neil Shastri, Grade 5
  • Chloe Yu, Grade 5 (Tamaques student)


Wilson Team Coaches:

  • Hillary Crall
  • Steve Yu


The McKinley Team placed 19th in the World Finals, with team members as follows:


  • Christian Buonopane, Grade 4
  • Collin Foerst, Grade 3
  • James Foerst, Grade 5
  • Grace Matus, Grade 4
  • Lincoln Meyers, Grade 5
  • Madeleine Smith, Grade 4
  • Logan Welsh, Grade 4


McKinley Team Coaches:

  • Cara Foerst
  • Suzanne Welsh




Congratulations to K-12 Social Studies Supervisor Andrea Brennan and Westfield High School social studies teachers Hilary Haskell, Kimberly Leegan, and Elizabeth Piombino who have been selected to give a presentation at the National Council for the Social Studies Annual Conference in Chicago in the fall.  This year’s conference theme is “Yesterday-Tomorrow: Building the Future of Social Studies.”  The Westfield team’s presentation will focus on empowering students to discover and connect their own stories of history through oral narratives and genealogy.


Twenty-two retiring staff members were honored  by the Board of Education and by colleagues and guests at the 31st  Annual End-of-the-Year Gala for school employees on May 31.  The event also paid tribute to employees with 25 years of service.  We thank our employees for their dedication to continuing Westfield’s tradition of excellence.  



There was dancing in the Westfield Public School District as students held dance marathons to raise money for charitable organizations.  At McKinley Elementary School, students in grades 1 through 5 danced for 2 ½ hours on May 23 in support of pediatric cancer research, raising a record $14,109.46 at the 7th Annual McKinley-THON.  Organized by teachers Christina Toulios, Alexandra Urso and Stephanie Willis, all proceeds from the dance marathon will benefit the Karyn Research Fund which is named for a former McKinley teacher’s daughter who lost her battle with leukemia.   Additionally, the school collected $2,287 from its Pennies for Patients campaign, a program offered through the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.  Nearby there was more dancing at Westfield High School on May 11 as the 2nd Annual Dance Marathon raised more than $6,700 for Children's Specialized Hospital. Hosted by the WHS Community Service Club, this year's dance marathon effort brings the two year total raised to more than $12,000.  Special thanks to club advisor Warren Hynes and all who organized this important event.


Reminder:  The deadline for Westfield residents interested in considering a three-year term on the Board of Education is July 30 at 4 p.m. when nominating petitions are due at the County Clerk’s office in Elizabeth. The three board members whose terms are expiring are Robert Garrison, Gretchan Ohlig, and Charles Ostroff.  More information on the board election process can be found under the Board section of the district website.


The next meeting of the Westfield Board of Education will be on Tuesday, June 19 at 7:30 p.m. at 302 Elm Street.  We will recognize a number of students for academic, athletic and performing arts achievements. A complete agenda of the meeting will be available on Friday, June 15 under the Board section of the district website.

Margaret Dolan, Ed.D.

Superintendent of Schools

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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