Letters to the Editor

Synopsis of Westfield Board of Education Meeting March 15


After months of working on the budget and presenting at public meetings, the tentative budget for 2016-2017 was approved by the Board of Education. 

  • The total budget, which includes special revenue and debt service is $106,137,581, with an operating budget of $100,156,197.
  • The average increase to homeowners is $194.
  • State aid provides only 3.85%, reduced significantly since the 1990’s when enrollment in the Westfield Public Schools was actually lower. 
  • Westfield continues to maintain its cost per pupil at less than similar school districts and the state average.
  • Student accomplishments remain high in academics, athletics and the arts, e.g., Westfield High School SAT scores surpassed the State average by 195 points.
  • Instruction costs represent the largest part of the budget

In a budget presentation to the Board and public, Business Administrator Dana Sullivan outlined the goals of the budget:  

  • Maintain district programs at a level of excellence
  • Maintain current class sizes
  • Make technology a priority and fund amount recommended by committee
  • Deliver a responsible budget to taxpayers, within the State’s adjusted CAP, to uphold the district’s track record of efficient spending.

The budget will be presented to the Union County Office of the Superintendent this week.  A public hearing on the budget, with final adoption anticipated by the Board, will take place on Tuesday, April 26.

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The Board accepted with regret the retirements as of July 1, 2016, of Irene Rainey – Westfield High School Secretary, who has provided service to the district for 29 years, and Kathleen DeNicolo – Tamaques Paraprofessional, who has served the Westfield Public Schools for 14 years.  We wish them a healthy, happy retirement and thank them for their dedication to Westfield students.



The State requires school districts to report on Violence, Vandalism, and Substance Abuse and Harassment, Intimidation, and Bullying (HIB) throughout the year.  I presented a report from the time period September 1 – December 31, 2015 that included the following incidents:


  • 2 violence
  • 1 vandalism
  • 4 substance abuse
  • 5 confirmed HIB cases

At all grade levels in the Westfield Public Schools we stress the importance of respect for self, for others and for the community. The underlying work of our staff, with the cooperation of parents, helps to make this an achievable goal. We conduct trainings and programs that include legal updates, review of Board policies and the district’s Code of Conduct, social problem solving, character education (assemblies and lessons), leadership and team bonding, and responsible use of social media.




The Board approved for second reading the following curricula:


Biology I


The Global Citizen

Women’s Studies

The Board approved two field trips to correlate with curriculum.


Legislative Chair Brendan Galligan reported that legislation has been introduced that could reduce QSAC (Quality Single Accountability Continuum) requirements for public schools in New Jersey.  He also stated that in addition to the General Assembly’s approval to create a task force to study the feasibility of full-day kindergarten programs throughout New Jersey, the Senate Education Committee approved a bill that would require the roughly 20 percent of districts not offering full-day kindergarten to begin doing so in the fall of 2018 or 2019, depending on the district's demographics. Westfield currently offers a half-day kindergarten with a lottery-based wrap program.


Peggy Oster reminded the public of the Special Education Expo Awareness that will be held tonight from 7 – 10 PM at Edison Intermediate School.  In addition to several speakers on relevant topics, there will be a formal announcement of a scholarship fund in honor of Kathryn Brennan, a Special Education teacher in Westfield who died last year.

Christopher Langhart reported on the Recreation Commission’s discussion regarding the benefits of installing a turf field in Tamaques Park. The Commission is preparing a presentation of its proposal to the Town Council.

Ginny Leiz reported on her attendance at Union County Educational Services Commission.


A member of the public suggested that the Board of Education should consider charging a fee to organizations such as the Westfield Soccer Association for use of school fields, since the Town of Westfield has a per person fee for use of town fields.  He suggested that the Board should be compensated for cost of maintenance on school district fields.



  • The Westfield Public Schools will be closed Friday, March 25 – Monday, March 28.  Schools and offices will reopen on Tuesday, March 29. 



  • Congratulations to the Westfield High School Boys Basketball team for winning the Conference Championship this year – the first since 1977!   The team was successful in reaching the State Sectional Semi-Final round as well. What a terrific season for the boys and their coach Daryl Palmeiri.


  • Congratulations to the following Westfield High School students for achieving the highest possible score on the ACT college admission and placement exam administered in February:  Stefan Crigler – Mathematics, Reading and Science; Samantha Della Fera – English; Max Kleiman-Lynch – Mathematics; and Danielle Rinaldi – Mathematics. 
  • Congratulations to Westfield High School Social Studies teachers, Kimberly Leegan and Ryan Daly, who have been invited as guest speakers to the Global Citizen Workshop at Rutgers University on April 15.  This second invitation to appear at Rutgers, where they presented in October 2015, is based on their 9th grade Global Perspective class, in which they introduce students to the concept of indigenous cultures.   Mr. Daly also made a presentation at the Middle States Conference on Social Studies on February 27, at which teachers throughout the East Coast such as the District of Columbia, Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey attended his workshop.  We agree with Mr. Daly that this was a wonderful opportunity to showcase the great work of the Westfield Social Studies Department.



·         Congratulations to three Westfield High School 11th graders who were selected to perform in the elite All-State Band Concert which was held on February 20 at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark, NJ.  They include: Matthew Schiff, Michael Hauge, and Dale Beyert.  Their teacher, Christopher Vitale, tells us that these musicians are extremely dedicated students who spent months preparing for their Region and All-State auditions and were chosen among the finest high school instrumentalists in New Jersey.  The three students also were selected among hundreds of other auditioning students throughout Central New Jersey to perform in the Central Jersey Music Educators Association Region Band and Symphony Orchestra in January.




·         Edison Intermediate School 6th Grade Social Studies teacher, Caitlin Dugan, has been accepted to the Woodrow Wilson HistoryQuest Institute in Princeton for the summer of 2016 under a fellowship program partnering with the Institute of Play in New York City.  The fellowship includes an all-expense paid week-long attendance from July 17-23 in addition to support and networking opportunities throughout the 2016-2017 school year. According to the Woodrow Wilson HistoryQuest Institute, “The program aims to use the power of games, play, and digital tools to transform both teacher practice and student engagement.”  Applicants must be history teachers in New Jersey.   Upon acceptance to the program, Ms. Dugan remarked, “I am thrilled to be a part of such an exciting and meaningful program that I can introduce into my own classroom.  I am also so proud to be representing Westfield while doing so."


  • This weekend Edison Intermediate School will present its spring musical, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.  Performance dates are March 17 at 4:00 PM, and March 18 and 19 at 7:30 PM.  Tickets are $8 pre-sale and $10 at the door with a special $5 performance on Thursday at 4:00.  Come enjoy our talented actors, singers and dancers as they bring this classic tale to life.


  • Congratulations to our intermediate school students who were accepted into the 2016 Central Jersey Music Educators Association Region II Ensembles.  They include, from Roosevelt:  6th graders Kevin Gao and Meredith Shepherd; 7th grader Alexander Cha; and 8th graders Majeed Assadi, Clea Demuynck, and Max Tennant.  From Edison:  6th grader Amy Xiao, 7th graders Dylan McCann, Aprina Wang, Andy Zhou and Kailey Zhao.



  • The Westfield Public Schools are celebrating the nationally acclaimed Youth Art Month in March with colorful and creative displays throughout the downtown area.  Paintings, drawings, sculpture, and painted furniture designed by approximately 300 students from Westfield’s ten public schools are displayed by 34 downtown merchants as well as the Westfield Memorial Library and RMC Studios in Garwood, who volunteered their window or display space for the month of March. A nationwide tradition that began more than 50 years ago, Youth Art Month emphasizes the value of art education and encourages support for school art programs.


  • Nominations are now being accepted from interested citizens, parents, students and Westfield public school staff members for the annual elementary teacher award.  The Philhower Award was established by the Westfield Rotary to honor elementary teaching in the Westfield Public Schools.  Letters of nominations are due by Friday, April 22, to The 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 torotaryphilhower@westfieldnjk12.org. Nominations should specify ways in which the elementary 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 Martin Luther King Association invites the public to attend a Community Discussion on Race – a panel discussion – on Monday, April 4, at 7:30 PM in the Westfield High School auditorium.  Representative community leaders and members will address questions about race relations as they impact the town. 



·         The next Board of Education meeting will be held Tuesday, April 5, at 7:30 PM at 302 Elm Street.  The complete agenda will be available on Friday, April 1, on the Board of Education website.

Enjoy the extended Easter weekend with your families and friends.

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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