WESTFIELD, NJ - The Westfield Board of Education approved the Strategic Plan for the Westfield Public Schools from 2010-2015 on Tuesday night. The plan was assembled after a year of input from the community.

It was introduced by Dr. Margaret Dolan, Superintendent of the Westfield Public Schools, who reviewed the contents of the plan. As introduced, it is an ambitious and comprehensive plan that will guide the system for the next five years. The plan aims to “prepare all students to reach their highest potential, and to become productive, well balanced and responsible citizens in a global society,” she said.

In the plan, lofty objectives were set to develop a curriculum that would educate the students and prepare them for the future.  Piggybacking on a bill approved by the New Jersey Legislature against bullying, the plan calls for “an environment where they [the students] feel physically, emotionally and intellectually secure.”

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Regarding budgetary items, the plan seeks to make the effort to return special needs students to the district since a number have been placed outside in order for their needs to be addressed at a great cost. The total amount for students placed elsewhere was $6,486,805.95. The amount allocated for the year was $6,920,848.

The plan also calls for the schools to save money by receiving Energy Star approval by the EPA. Currently 4 of the 10 schools have received it.

Investigating grants was another idea that was suggested in the Strategic Plan. This would be done by acquiring a grants specialist for the district. Expanding shared services and working for different avenues to generate revenue were also discussed. “We also must improve the efficiency of our efforts even though we spend $1,800 less than the New Jersey state average,” Dr Dolan said.

Regarding the plan, board member Gary McCready said that it was a timely document and that it would be very helpful. Board member Alice Hunnicutt said, “We took some risks and we wanted to improve the schools and we did.” Board President Julia Walker then made a motion for the Board of Education to adopt it and it was passed unanimously.

In matters of Personnel, the appointment of Timothy Harrison to the position of Language Arts Supervisor was raised by the Board. It was decided he would be paid a salary of $90,000. His appointment was approval unanimously by the board. Harrison remarked that “I’m thrilled to be part of the community. I’m committed to excellence and progress.”

The Board also discussed replacing the roofs on the schools. Board Member Richard Mattessich reported that it was costly to install solar panels on the roofs and difficult to negotiate an affordable deal and that it would benefit the system if they did not receive an initial bid. “Then we can negotiate directly with the solar companies. It is also possible that the Treasury grant for solar energy will be extended next year.” The age of the buildings was cited as one of the reasons that it was so costly to repair the roofs.

“They haven’t been fixed in 8 years,” noted board member Ginny Leiz. It was then noted that funds needed to be allocated for their repair in next year’s budget.