ORGANIZATION OF THE BOARD
Business Administrator/Board Secretary Dana Sullivan opened the virtual meeting with the results of the annual school board election on November 3, 2020. Sahar Aziz, Leila Morrelli, and Sonal Patel were elected for three-year terms. The Board unanimously elected Amy Root as Board President and Brendan Galligan as Board Vice President. Board members agreed to abide by the New Jersey School Boards Association’s Code of Ethics, which they read aloud, and approved reorganization resolutions in order to continue conducting official business.
I welcomed our new Board members and returning Board members, thanking them for their service before introducing Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum, Instruction and Programs Paul Pineiro. Mr. Pineiro provided a presentation on what the district has learned since last March and how we can bring some of those lessons forward to improve our instruction and learning.
Mr. Pineiro praised our teachers for the creative ways they have found to communicate, collaborate, and engage students during hybrid and remote learning. He noted the increased familiarity with and availability of digital instructional platforms including Google Classroom, Pear Deck, Padlet, Flipgrid, Screencastify, Jamboard, and others. He discussed ways the district might utilize what we’ve learned beyond the pandemic including remote meetings, scheduling, virtual home instruction where needed, teacher feedback on student work, identifying learning gaps for groups and individual students.
Mr. Pineiro answered questions from various Board members, stating that the district continues to work on ensuring better engagement with the younger grades and discussing professional development that has been provided to educators to help with hybrid and remote learning. Mr. Pineiro noted that the State has indicated that the New Jersey Student Learning Assessments (NJSLA) are currently scheduled but that it is unclear at this time whether they will actually be administered. He said that, during the pandemic, administrators, supervisors, and teachers are relying more heavily on smaller formative assessments (i.e., quizzes and tests that evaluate how a student is learning the material throughout a course) rather than the larger summative assessments held midyear and/or at the end of the course, adding that subject area supervisors feel this formative approach is working. He said that resources for parents to help their children have been shared by principals and are posted on the district website and he thanked master instructional technology teacher Jeanine Gottko and building-based instructional technology coaches for their tireless efforts on behalf of our teachers and students.
Facilities Committee Chairperson Michael Bielen reported that, at a recent meeting, district architect George Duthie reviewed the district’s HVAC system, outlining recent and future upgrades for multipurpose rooms. Mr. Bielen noted that our classrooms currently have methods for providing fresh air including unit ventilators and windows and that the district has proactively upgraded all multi-purpose rooms with air treatment systems to ensure proper airflow and bipolar ionization systems to remove any viral particles from the air. He stated that additional HVAC upgrades are scheduled. The Edison field project, use of maintenance reserves, third-party use of district buildings, and Roosevelt Intermediate School’s plan to bury a time capsule were among other topics discussed at the Facilities meeting.
The Board approved for second reading the following policies:
- 6440 Cooperative Purchasing (Finances)
- 6470.01 Electronic Funds Transfer and Claimant Certification (Finances)
- 7440 School District Security (Property)
- 8420 Emergency and Crisis Situation (Operations) 2.
The Board also affirmed my decision on one HIB incident.
CURRICULUM, INSTRUCTION AND PROGRAMS
The Board approved for second reading the following curricula:
The Board approved voluntary Student Teacher/Intern candidates for the 2020-2021 school year.
The Board accepted with gratitude the following donations:
- A gift of $685.50 from the Westfield High School PTSO to purchase an iPad for Ms. Altieri’s mathematics class.
- A gift of $12,237.05 from the Westfield Coalition for the Arts to be used for the following purchases:
- $5,434.92 (1) 2431W King Tuba – Westfield High School
- $3,762.93 (1) 1140W King Tuba – Edison Intermediate School
- $3,039.20 (80) Kala Soprano Ukuleles – Washington, Wilson & McKinley Schools
- Gifts from the Westfield Coalition for the Arts as follows:
- (1) Wireless Sonos speaker valued at $200 - Edison Intermediate School Orchestra
- (2) Portable personal amplification systems valued at $500 – Franklin & McKinley Bands
- (2) Paper shredders valued at $70 – Edison Intermediate School
Board member Robert Garrison reported on a recent meeting of the Garden State Coalition of Schools where a slate of knowledgeable speakers discussed statewide policies important to school districts.
Mr. Galligan noted that the Union County School Boards Association will hold a virtual meeting on January 13 for school board members.
Board member Sahar Aziz asked whether a Board liaison exists to monitor the availability of COVID-19 vaccinations for teachers. I noted that I am always in communication with local and state public health officials. During the pandemic, the Union County Superintendent has held monthly meetings that include superintendents, nurses, and local departments of health. I have been checking on the status of vaccinations for our staff. Our school nurses have started to receive the 1st dose of the COVID vaccine. Our teachers are in Group 1B which includes other essential workers listed ahead of them.
Congratulations to the following Westfield High School students who earned perfect scores of 800 on the November 7 SAT subject area tests:
Math: 12th grader Amanda Cerrachio; 11th graders Cynthia Li, Katherine Palmer, Lillian Qin, Vijay Sreenivasan, Ashley Talwar
Math Level 2: 11th grader Carsen Sharkey
The Edison Intermediate School Theater Guild proudly presents its 8th grade production – “The Complete History of Theater (Abridged)” – to be streamed on Friday, January 8 and Saturday, January 9 at 7:30 p.m. on both evenings. The virtual production pays homage to the world’s best-known and beloved plays and musicals. The full Edison cast of 40 actors and technical crew will lead viewers on a wild and wacky journey through the history of theater. Audience members may watch the show by purchasing a StreamPass at eis.booktix.com. A single StreamPass is valid for a single device. StreamPasses are $10 per device. StreamPass sales close 15 minutes prior to the event times listed.
The Roosevelt Intermediate School Theater proudly presents its first-ever 100% virtual theater production – “Left to our Own Devices” – to be live-streamed on Friday, January 15 and Saturday, January 16 at 7:00 p.m. on both evenings. The play is a collection of sketches that range from sweet to hysterical. Viewers will enjoy how the characters and settings change from a college freshman calling home to ordering from a drive-through to Rapunzel and her prince, and more. Audience members may watch the virtual performance by purchasing a StreamPass at ris.booktix.com. A single StreamPass is valid for a single device. StreamPass sales close 15 minutes prior to the start of each performance. As StreamPasses are sold per device, rather than per seat in a theater, the Roosevelt Theater Department is offering StreamPass tiers that include a donation:
- Student StreamPass - $5.00
- Adult StreamPass - $10.00
- Family StreamPass - $15.00
- RIS Premier Donor StreamPass - $20.00
The deadline to participate in the district’s "Responding to Hate" survey was extended to Friday, January 8. As a reminder, Westfield Public Schools, in partnership with the Westfield Education Fund, is sponsoring a year-long community learning series on the topic of racial literacy. The district invites and encourages members of the community to complete this brief survey to help us plan community learning experiences. For more on this important initiative and to access the "Responding to Hate" survey link, visit "Recent News" at westfieldnjk12.org. Thank you, in advance, for your participation.
KINDERGARTEN AND FIRST GRADE REGISTRATION
Beginning on Monday, January 11, the district will conduct kindergarten registration for the 2021-2022 school year for all children who are residents of Westfield and will reach the age of 5 on or before October 1, 2021. First grade registration also will be held for children who are residents of Westfield, will reach the age of 6 on or before October 1, 2021 and who have not yet attended the Westfield Public Schools. Instructions and forms for the new online registration process will be posted at westfieldnjk12.org on the “Student Registration” quick link in the upper right of the page and in the dropdown menu on the “Family Resources” tab. Registration will be open through Friday, January 29.
The Union County Office of Health Management is calling on active or retired healthcare professionals with vaccination experience to assist with COVID-19 vaccinations. If you are a healthcare professional and would like to help, please email a resume and licensing information to Public Health Coordinator Lovely Randle at firstname.lastname@example.org. Information and instructions, along with a Volunteer Handbook for the Union County Medical Reserve Corps, can be found on the “Community Flyers” page under “Family Resources” at westfieldnjk12.org.
Coloring is fun, relaxes the mind, and helps tame feelings of stress and anxiety. Adults and kids alike can share in this activity together. The Westfield Mental Health Council is offering CAKE-inspired (Compassion, Acceptance, Kindness, Empathy) coloring pages and printable mailers to help the community through stressful times brought on by Covid-19. The coloring pages, postcards, and other printable correspondence can be found at westfieldnj.gov/decoratecake. You can learn more about the Mental Health Council and the CAKE initiative at westfieldnj.gov/mentalhealthcouncil. Happy coloring!
All Westfield Public Schools and offices will be closed on Monday, January 18 in observance of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.
NEXT BOARD OF EDUCATION MEETING
The next meeting of the Westfield Board of Education will be held on Tuesday, January 19. The time and location of the meeting will be announced later. Should the meeting be virtual, instructions for the public regarding remote access are on the district website at westfieldnjk12.org under the Board tab. The complete agenda of the meeting will be available on Friday, January 15.