J. Brendan Galligan is running for a three-year term in the Nov. 5 election for Westfield Board of Education.

Name. Age. How long have you lived in Westfield?

J. Brendan Galligan, 30 years old, 30 years.

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I am seeking reelection to the Westfield school board. I am a life-long Westfield resident and a WHS graduate. My fiancé and I look forward to raising our future family here.

What are your qualifications for office?

I have proudly served as a member of the BOE since 2012. I have served on every board committee and currently Chair the Negotiations Committee and Policies Committee, also having chaired the Facilities and Legislation committees.

For the last five years I served as the district’s representative to the County School Board Association and the NJ School Boards Association. I served two years as the UCSBA Vice President and four years representing the 21st Legislative District as a Delegate of the NJSBA-Legislation Committee.

In August, I was named to the New Jersey School Boards Association’s Board of Directors.

I have earned the Certified Board Member certification through the Board Member Academy, and I am well on my way to being recognized as a Master Board Member.

What would your top priorities be if elected to the Board of Education?

I promise to continue to provide a pragmatic and methodical approach to every decision that I make as board member.

We are a high achieving district, but we can always do better. We need to continue to differentiate classroom instruction to help our teachers challenge each student at a level that fosters growth and success.

We need to take the necessary steps to ensure our buildings are capable of providing a proper educational environment for generations to come.

Do you support the proposed school bond referendums for full day kindergarten? Please explain your answer.

I strongly support the upcoming board decision to place the referendum question before the voters.

We’ve undertaken demographic studies to project the future enrollment, inventoried our classroom spaces to determine our maximum facility capacity, hired an architectural firm to develop preliminary plans for classroom additions and solicited community feedback.

The results of that groundwork left us with a complex situation. Learn more about it here.

How would you work to promote student wellbeing and safety?

Student achievement is intrinsically tied to emotional wellbeing and safety. In 2015, social and emotional wellbeing, mainly student resiliency, was added as one of our three key objectives of our five-year strategic plan. We’ve made great strides.

We have implemented the necessary changes to policy by limiting unannounced visitors and requiring doors to remain locked at all times and training our staff on numerous security protocols. Physical security needs are met by upgrading classroom doors and windows, installing access control gates for after hours activities, installing electronic locks and security cameras.

We need our students to feel safe in school, and that means letting kids be kids. We can make students feel safe by remaining vigilant, restricting unexpected visitors and maintaining a sense of normalcy.

What else you would like the readers to know?

The BOE is a governing board, not a managing entity. Our job is to craft effective policy and provide fiscal oversight. 

The board has one employee, the Superintendent of Schools. We don’t hire new district staff or negotiate directly with vendors. Instead, we only approve or reject the recommendations of the Superintendent.

The collaborative success of the Westfield Public Schools is based on mutual trust and respect between the Board, the administration and the school staff.