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Westfield Board of Education Releases Synopsis of October 2 Meeting

MOVING FORWARD REGARDING DISTRICT FACILITY NEEDS

In response to the defeat of the $16.9 million bond referendum on September 24 to replace approximately 77% of our schools’ roofs and to install a turf field at Westfield High School, Board President, Rich Mattessich, stated that voters sent a strong message to the School Board regarding the pursuit of a bond in that configuration.

Mr. Mattessich outlined these observations and recommendations:

•       A majority of the district’s roofs still need to be replaced.
•       There are active leaks, with the High School roof in the worst
condition, and Roosevelt the next critical.
•       A successful bond referendum on December 11 could permit the
replacement of the high school roof in the summer of 2013.  We could
possibly replace one more school’s roof in that short timeframe to get
through the paperwork and bid process required.  Other major roof
replacements would wait another year.
•       The Board will look at other alternatives of funding the roof
replacements:
o       How much, if any, can be funded from capital reserve account?
o       What affect would this have on the capital reserve in terms of dealing
with other facility needs?
o       If funded through the operating budget, how many programs/staff would be
cut?
o       Can the roof project be scaled back?
o       Can any roofs wait a year or two or be deferred longer?
•       Solar installation is not the reason the district is looking at new
roofs.  The active leaks are the reason.  Any possible solar installations,
if deemed worthwhile, would be pursued after the roofs are replaced.


•       Dana Sullivan, Business Administrator, recommended that the board
notify the Union County Board of Elections that the Board intends to hold a
special election in December for roof replacements. Since our priority is
to replace at the least the High School roof next summer, she also
recommended tabling the discussion of the field turf at this time. The
actual amount and wording of the bond question can be determined at the
October 22 board meeting.  Mrs. Sullivan noted that the district has used
the operating budget to fund a number of smaller maintenance projects.
During the last school year and over the summer, the district used funds
from the operating budget and maintenance reserve to fund the purchase of
technology equipment, replacement of windows and doors, renovations to
bathrooms, replacement of boilers, repairs to chimneys and masonry work and
parking lot repairs.

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•       The Board approved a resolution to designate December 11, 2012 for a
special election of a bond referendum for the roofs.  The Board needed to
approve the resolution this week in order to have the option of pursuing a
bond in December.  Following the roof report on October 22, the Board will
decide what steps it will take to address the roof conditions and how to
fund the necessary work.


•       Mr. Mattessich acknowledged the non-supportive response from residents
regarding the lighted turf field.  Although the field would not be included
in a December bond referendum, he reminded the Board that discussion and
decisions will need to take place in the future regarding field usage and
safety.


•       Mr. Mattessich requested that Dana Sullivan, Business Administrator,
present a detailed roof report to the Board at the next meeting on Monday,
October 22.


BOARD OF EDUCATION


Board President, Richard Mattessich, read a prepared announcement from Vice President, David Finn, who is resigning from the Board effective October 2 -- earlier than expected, due to a family medical emergency.  Mr. Finn had previously announced that he would step down from the Board when his term expired in January.  In last night’s message, he stated his admiration for the Board members and the work of the district.  Both Mr.
Mattessich and Mrs. Leiz commented that Mr. Finn was a contributing member of the Board, whose expertise in the health benefits field was of particular value during negotiations proceedings. I echo those sentiments
and thank Mr. Finn for his service on the Board and to the entire school community.

The Board unanimously elected Rosanne Kurstedt as Vice President. Replacing Mr. Finn on the committees he served will be:  Gretchan Ohlig –Facilities; Jane Clancy – Policies; and Ginny Leiz will assume the position of Chairperson - Negotiations.


TEACHER EVALUATION SYSTEM

Barbara Ball, Human Resources Specialist, and Stewart Carey, Principal of Roosevelt Intermediate School, reported on the progress of their committee’s work on researching five available teacher evaluation systems
approved by the state.  Two years ago the NJDOE directed that beginning 2013-14, all school districts would function with a new teacher evaluation system that will be embedded with student achievement.  The committee has recommended the system created by Kim Marshall, who explained his system to Westfield’s Evaluation Committee on September 12.  In addition to Westfield, Millburn, Summit, and the Morris/Union Jointure will be applying his methods of evaluation that include frequent observations and unannounced visits to witness authentic instruction in the classroom.

Guidance Counselor, Jan Fine, and Board member, Rosanne Kurstedt, also members of the committee, endorsed the model as being the best fit for Westfield.  Mrs. Ball stated that the cost of the program is less than the other four options (which run $60,000 - $100,000 annually), and is estimated to cost Westfield $12,000 the first year, reduced to $10,000 the next year. Mr. Carey, also a proponent of Marshall’s system, noted that the most important responsibility of a principal is hiring excellent teachers and helping them to grow.



WEEK OF RESPECT

As is the case in public schools throughout New Jersey, the Westfield Public Schools are observing a Week of Respect this week.  Our youngest students are reading books focusing on stories of respect, of being considerate to others and of dealing peacefully with anger and disagreements.  At the intermediate levels, teachers are infusing the theme of respect and tolerance into the teaching of their daily lessons.  At Edison School, motivational speaker Cary Trivanovich, is speaking to the students regarding character building and bullying.  In Roosevelt, counselors are teaching lessons to the students, and the Rachel’s Challenge program will continue the work of last year regarding chain reactions of kindness throughout the building. At Westfield High School, upperclassmen who are on the Transition Team have been meeting with freshmen to discuss the culture of respect, and teachers are providing age and subject area instruction on preventing bullying.  We work on the importance of respect each and every day in our schools, working in cooperation with the parents of our students.


EDUCATION FUND

The Education Fund of Westfield dedicated the new i-Pad lab at Westfield High School to one of the founders of the Fund, Darielle Walsh.  Amy Seid, Co-President of the Ed Fund, praised Mrs. Walsh’s continued support of the schools and the entire community.  Mrs. Walsh noted that unlike most education funds, Westfield does not have any paid staff and operates solely by dedicated volunteers, with every penny raised going directly into the classroom. Master Technology Teacher, Nancy Latimer, who applied for the grant for the i-Pad lab, thanked the Ed Fund for its generosity.  WHS Social Studies teacher, Jackie Spring, explained how well the i-Pad lab is being utilized in a pilot program in the 11th grade American Studies and 9th grade Humanities classes.


PERSONNEL

The Board accepted the retirement of Nancy Rich – Wilson Elementary School Secretary – effective December 31, 2012.  She has served the Westfield Public Schools for more than 25 years, and we thank Mrs. Rich for such dedication and wish her the best in her retirement.


POLICIES

The Board approved for final reading the following policies: 1523 –Comprehensive Equity Plan; 1570 – Internal Controls; 2415.3 – Highly Qualified Teachers; 5860 – Safety Patrol; 8420 – Emergency and Crisis Situations; and 8461 – Reporting Violence and Vandalism, Harassment, Intimidation, Bullying, Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse.

The Board approved for first reading the following policies:  2200- Curriculum Content; 2230 – Course Guides; and 3240 – Professional Development.


 CURRICULUM, INSTRUCTION & PROGRAMS


The Board approved an overnight field trip for the Westfield High School Project ’79 upperclassmen to Princeton-Blairstown Center, NJ.

FINANCE

In ad In addition to approving a resolution to designate December 11, 2012 for special election of a bond referendum for the roofs, the Board approved the shared cost of the renovation of the Jefferson School field with The Town of Westfield, not to exceed $35,000 for the Board’s share.  The Board and Town also received a grant in the amount of $35,000 to assist in the funding of the field project.


ANNOUNCEMENTS

WESTFIELD HIGH SCHOOL

Five Westfield High School seniors have been named semifinalists in the National Merit Scholarship program.  They are:  Owen Browne, Andres Chang, Jeffrey Marino, Eric Mikalauskas, and Eric Oberman. According to the
National Merit Scholarship Corporation, the nationwide pool of semifinalists represents less than one percent of U.S. high school seniors and includes the highest scoring entrants in each state on the Preliminary
SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test.  They will have an opportunity to continue in the competition to become a finalist for 2013 Merit Scholarship awards that will be offered in the spring.

With the latest SAT announcement received from Westfield High School, the total number of “800” scores for the 2011-2012 school year has reached 57. The newest scores from May and June 2012 were achieved by the following students: Michael Aronson, Edmund Han, Geoffrey Ko, Adam Lupicki, Eric Oberman, Michael Reilly, Alexander Beals, Riyad Carey, Andres Chang, David Cui, Mark Gillespie, Timothy Huber, Zachary Jaffee, Alexandra Kapadia, Jeffrey Marino, Benjamin Schwartz, Austin Thien, Yixue Wang, Jingyan Xiao, Alex Ying, and Rebecca Zhang. Congratulations to these students on these remarkable achievements.


TV SPECIAL


Classroom Close-Up NJ is a 30-minute weekly series program that focuses on successful innovative projects happening in New Jersey schools. The TV program – winner of 11 Emmys -- came to Westfield High School before the end of the school year to tape the Project 79 classrooms for the day.  The segment of “Day in the Life of Project 79” will be broadcast on NJTV on Sunday, October 7, at 6:30 am, 12:30 pm, and 7:30 pm. In addition, Peter Horn, Coordinator of Project 79, was interviewed by Steve Adubato for his One-on-One program.  That interview will air on NJTV on Friday, October 5, at 7 PM and 11:30 PM.

ATHLETICS
Congratulations to the Girls’ Tennis team for winning the Union County championship.

SCHOOLS CLOSED
The Westfield Public Schools will be closed on Monday, October 8, in observance of Columbus Day.

NEXT BOARD OF EDUCATION MEETING – MONDAY, October 22.  The meeting will
be held in the Board Room at 302 Elm Street at 7:30 PM.

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