Letters to the Editor

Synopsis of Westfield Board of Education Reorganization Meeting June 14


Board President Gretchan Ohlig presented Board of Education resolutions to secondary school teachers who were recipients of awards this spring. They included:  Optimist Intermediate Teachers of the Year, Christine Cassu, Spanish teacher at Roosevelt Intermediate School, and Erin Meade, Language Arts teacher at Edison Intermediate School.  Also acknowledged were four Westfield High School teachers:  Christopher Tafelski, Science teacher, who is this year’s recipient of the Distinguished Teacher of the Year Award; Maria Martinez, Paraprofessional and winner of the Robert and Linda Foose Memorial Award for Excellence; Christopher Vitale, Instrumental Music teacher and recipient of Westfield High School PTSO’s Outstanding Teacher Award; and Scott Rutherford, who received the Above and Beyond Award.  On hand at the Board meeting to honor all the awardees were school principals, PTO officers, students, colleagues, family members, and friends. Principals Stewart Carey and Matthew Bolton and Assistant Principal Derrick Nelson all spoke of the dedication, commitment, and care that the teachers demonstrate in their profession. 


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The board approved a long list of business items 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.




  • The board approved for first reading the following policies:  3152 – Withholding an Increment (Teaching Staff Members); 3212 – Attendance (Teaching Staff Members); 3230 - Non-School employment (Teaching Staff Members); 3232 – Private Tutoring (Teaching Staff Members); 3233 – Political Activities (Teaching Staff Members); 4212 – Attendance (Support Staff Members); 4240 – Employee Training (Support Staff Members); and 4437 – Military Leave (Support Staff Members).
  • The board affirmed my decision on a HIB incident.


  • The board approved for first reading the following curricula:
    • Physical Education – Grade K-5
    • Algebra I, Workshop
    • Algebra II, Workshop
    • Geometry, Workshop
  • The board approved overnight field trips which correlated with curriculum.
  • The board approved the Westfield Public Schools Strategic Plan 2016-2021. There was a full presentation of the plan at the May 24 Board meeting. That night we reviewed the Mission Statement, the District Vision and the Beliefs that underlie all our daily work.  We also outlined the strategic directions that will guide the Westfield Public Schools for the next 5 years. The students who will graduate from WHS next week are well prepared for their future.  This is due in part to previous Strategic Plans which were developed with community support and which made certain that our schools continued to change with the times and strive to higher standards. This strategic plan will do the same for those students now in our schools and for the Class of 2029 who will be entering Lincoln School next September.  

    I would again like to thank everyone who participated in the development of the Strategic Plan.  Based on the suggestions and questions made at the May 24th meeting, we did clarify the 3rd goal a bit more. The overall goal is to foster a culture of health and wellness.  Steps under this include:
    • Support development of character, respect and citizenship
    • Strengthen skills for social interactions

Based on suggestions following our May 24th meeting, we have made slight revisions and these steps also are included in the goal: 

o   Encourage coping skills and resiliency

o   Partner with mental health community resources

o   Promote balance and wellness in policies, procedures and practices

I look forward to beginning the 2016-17 school year committed to the Mission, Vision and Beliefs of the Strategic Plan. 


The board approved a resolution to determine the form and other details of refunding school bonds not exceeding $6,950,000.



Outgoing Technology Chair and Board Member, Mitch Slater, referred to a letter sent home to parents from Edison Principal Matthew Bolton, outlining a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) program.  The BYOD pilot is being launched the last few weeks of school.  Mr. Slater praised this effort and the steps the district has undertaken regarding technology initiatives.  He thanked the current and past members of the Board’s Technology committee as well as Paul Pineiro, Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum, Instruction and Program, and Brian Auker, Chief Technology Officer. 


Peggy Oster reported that the Roosevelt Intermediate School PTO has experienced a successful outcome resulting from its letter of appeal to parents. After raising $10,000, the PTO was able to support several purchases for the school, including water fountains, hand dryers, cots in the nurse’s office, and grants to teachers.

Gretchan Ohlig reported that the WHS-PTSO awarded over $7,000 in teacher mini-grants.

Ginny Leiz attended the Union County Educational Services Commission meeting, at which she was re-elected to the position of Vice President.



Congratulations to the Westfield Debate Team, who on May 20 took first and second place in the Public Forum Debate at the Inaugural Speech Festival for Middle School Students hosted by the Ridge High School Speech and Debate Team. Competing against more than 100 students from seven schools, the winning team of Mira Mehta and Kailey Zhao went head-to-head against fellow Westfield debaters Chelsea Duan and Isabella Xiong to take the two top spots of the night. Parents and students at Edison, Roosevelt, Westfield High School and the rising sixth grade are invited to attend an information session about the Westfield Debate Team on Tuesday, June 21, at 6:30 p.m. at the Bauer Branch of the Westfield Area Y.  For more information, email westfielddebateteam@gmail.com .


·         Congratulations to those Westfield High School graduating seniors who were among the recipients of more than 130 awards at the school’s Awards Night on May 26.  For a complete list of names and awards, please check the district or the Westfield High School websites.

  • Congratulations to Bryanna Reinhardt, a senior at Westfield High School, who was presented with a Youth of the Year award by the Westfield Area Y.   Bryanna, who will be attending UCLA, has participated in the YMCA civic engagement programs of Model United Nations and Youth and Government, holding leadership roles in both.  She also created a statewide conference, coming to fruition in 2016, titled Youth Advocacy Day, which will enable 13 delegates from across New Jersey to meet with state legislators and lobby for legislation they wrote themselves for this year’s Youth and Government conference.  Bryanna’s recognition for her dedication to the YMCA Civic Engagement programs and her efforts to provide more youth in our community the same empowering experience earned her the Youth of the Year Award.

·         Congratulations to Westfield High School 9th grader Tomas Taaffe, who earned a perfect score on the 2016 National Latin Exam, according to an announcement by the University of Mary Washington, which administers the exam.  Only 929 students out of over 140,000 who participated worldwide attained this distinction.  Also receiving a gold medal for his accomplishment, Tomas, who is in his first year of studying the Latin language, commented, “I love how it connects to the English language today.”  

  • Congratulations to the Westfield High School Club Ultimate Frisbee team who won the USA Ultimate New Jersey State Championship on Thursday night, June 2.  The Westfield team ended the regular season ranked #2 in the state of New Jersey.  The team made an awesome second half comeback to defeat #1 ranked Columbia High School by a score of 13-10 in the State Championship game which took place at the stadium of Drew University in Madison, NJ.  The Westfield High School A Team was led by senior captain Connor Russell who threw 7 out of the 13 assists in the finals and junior captain Kevin Tsui.  The leading goal scorer in the finals was senior Mike Rossi who had 3 goals.  The Westfield High School Team is coached by Ryan Belline, 6th and 8th grade math teacher at Edison Intermediate School, and Anthony Nunez, who is part of the Technology Staff in the Westfield Public Schools.



Sixteen Westfield Public School retiring staff members were honored for 415 years of combined service by the Board of Education, colleagues, and guests at the 29th annual Gala for school employees on June 2nd.  The time-honored event also pays tribute to employees with 25 years of service. Superintendent of Schools Margaret Dolan and Westfield Education Association President Gail Alston addressed the honorees, thanking them for their dedication and service to the Westfield Public Schools.  Board of Education President Gretchan Ohlig and Vice President Peggy Oster formally recognized the retirees and 25-year employees.  For a complete list of the honored employees, please check the district website.


The next Board of Education meeting will be held on Tuesday, June 21, at 7:30 PM, in the Board Room.  We will begin the meeting by honoring our state champion boys’ tennis team, two track and field athletes, and several Performing Arts students who have gained statewide recognition.  The complete agenda will be available on the Board of Education website on Friday, June 17.  


A special thanks to graduating senior, Jonathan Bergman, who has been faithfully attending and taping the Board of Education meetings for the last two years. We wish him continued success as he heads to American University in Washington, D.C.

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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