The Board accepted the annual audit of the 2012-2013 school year prepared by Hodulik and Morrison, P.A. Auditor Bob Morrison reported that the Westfield Public School District’s accounting practices are in full compliance and that our financial information is accurate and consistent in application according to rules of the State and accounting standards. The data was found reliable. His staff spent weeks in the district testing internal controls and procedures in addition to our compliance with federal grants. He confirmed that the district’s internal controls are operating effectively and designed appropriately. His firm issued a clean report, with no non-compliance issues. He complimented the Business Office saying there are no audit adjustments needed. He had no findings or recommendations, no need for corrective action, and thanked the cooperation of the Business Office staff.
SPECIAL EDUCATION REPORT
Michael Weissman, Assistant Superintendent of Pupil Personnel Services, presented an Overview of Special Education services in the district. He introduced his presentation with an inspirational video of a Smithfield, Rhode Island High School salutatorian who, despite severe challenges with autism, proved that hard work, determination, and a lot of support resulted in a successful academic career culminating with several college acceptances.
Dr. Weissman stressed that communication is the window to leading a productive life. He echoed the words of the Smithfield salutatorian who said, “People with disabilities should not be defined by their limitations, but by their abilities.” He presented historical and current data on special education enrollments in the district, which tend to be similar or slightly higher than state averages. Adhering to the Special Education Administrative Code, the district aims to place students in the least restrictive environments. The types of services, beginning with the least restrictive are: General Education with support in all schools; Resource Room programs in all schools; Specialized Resource programs; Special Classes (Self-Contained); and Separate private Schools/Residential.
Noting that he is extremely proud of the continuing efforts to serve autistic students within the district in grades PreK- 5, Dr. Weissman explained that considerable professional development is provided to teachers and paraprofessionals to support the students and their families. He foresees the need for the expansion of Leaps and Bounds (the autism program) to continue to meet the learning needs and challenges of our student population with Autistic Spectrum Disorder.
With the success of clinical/counseling support in the intermediate schools, we are considering this at the high school level as a support structure for students who can be dealing with stress, depression, and other issues.
Dr. Weissman expects that curriculum modifications will be made to keep pace with the new Common Core Standards. The State has indicated that recommendations will be forthcoming.
The Board affirmed my decision on an HIB incident.
CURRICULUM, INSTRUCTION & PROGRAMS
The Board approved for second reading the following revised Language Arts curricula with bridge documents to align with the Core Curriculum Standards: Intermediate School Language Arts - Language Arts Grade 6, 7 and 8. High School Language Arts - English I Applications; English I, II, III, IV; English Honors II, III; Language and Composition - AP; and Literature and Composition - AP.
The Board approved tuition for the Kindergarten Wrap Around Program at Lincoln School for the 2014-2015 school year in the amount of $3,500 per year for the program.
Gretchan Ohlig reported on her attendance at the PTC/PTO Presidents’ meeting, at which the revised calendar for the 2014-2015was discussed. The Board’s final reading of the calendar is scheduled for January 7. Any comments/questions can be addressed to email@example.com.
Rosanne Kurstedt attended the Roosevelt Intermediate School PTO meeting on December 10.
RECOGNIZE THE PUBLIC
A High School parent, who had served on the Balance Committee at WHS, recommended that when the Board adopts a revised homework policy, it should be fully communicated to parents, teachers and students through many channels, including the website, parent newsletters, newspapers, department meetings, and orientations.
KINDERGARTEN & FIRST GRADE REGISTRATION
Kindergarten and First Grade registration for the 2014-2015 school year will be held in January. Kindergarten registration begins January 8for all children who are residents of Westfield reaching the age of 5 on or before October 1, 2014. Several dates have been set aside for kindergarten registration, which will be held at Lincoln School, 728 Westfield Avenue.
First Grade registration will take placefor all children who are residents of Westfield reaching the age of 6 on or before October 1, 2014 and have not yet attendedthe Westfield Public Schools.
Appointments for kindergarten and first grade registration must be made in advance. More information, including phone numbers of schools and required forms are posted on www.westfieldnjk12.org.
Due to weather conditions, the following concert changes have been announced:
A complete list of Westfield Public School concerts is posted at www.westfieldnjk12.org. A reminder – we invite senior citizens to attend the Wednesday, December 18th final rehearsal of the Westfield High School winter concert at 11:45 AM. Holiday and classical selections will be performed by the Westfield High School choral groups and symphony orchestra. There is no admission fee.
Franklin, Tamaques and Wilson Elementary Schools are joining a massive campaign kicked off during Computer Science Education Week -- December 9 - 15 -- to encourage students to participate in the Hour of Code. Code.org is launching the celebration which is geared to promote interest in the field of technology and help nurture creativity and problem solving skills. Hour of Code workshops planned by our schools – both during and after school this week or next -- will enable students to complete their hour of basic training by writing a computer program. The students are meant to create - and not just consume - software technology. To continue the learning, Franklin School will launch an after-school “Code Club” for fifth graders in January that aims to further demystify computer science and show students that coding is fun, collaborative, and creative.
WESTFIELD HIGH SCHOOL
· A total of 162 Westfield High School students earned AP Scholar awards in recognition of their college level achievement through Advanced Placement courses and exams. These students averaged 4.33 on their AP tests, with a score of 5 being the absolute highest on a scale of 1 to 5. Six students qualified for the prestigious National AP Scholar Award, which is granted to students in the United States who receive an average score of at least 4 on all AP exams taken, and scores of 4 or higher on eight or more of these exams. The Westfield High School seniors receiving the National AP Scholar Award include: Matthew Gates, Edmund Han, Geoffrey Ko, Adam Lupicki, Michaela Nies, and Benjamin Schwartz. For more information on the awards of all 162 students, please visit www.westfieldnjk12.org “In the News.”
· Eight Westfield High School students have achieved perfect scores in recent standardized tests widely used for college admission criteria. They include: Shea Fitzpatrick – SAT Writing; Lily Wang – SAT Writing; Rachel Fan – SAT Math; Shawn Wu – SAT Math; David Gruskin – SAT Reading; Fraser Weist – SAT Math 2; and Andrew Zale – SAT Writing, and Nicole Devitt – ACT English, Math, Reading and Science. These test scores are accepted by major colleges and universities and provide evidence of student readiness for the academic rigors that lie ahead.
Congratulations to 6 Westfield High School students for being selected, following a challenging audition process, into ALL STATE musical groups:
In the All State Mixed Chorus: Kristin Hauge, Julian Mone, and Kim Roth. In the All State Women’s Chorus- Katherine Ko and Melanie Snyder; and In the All State Orchestra – Percussion – Alex DeFabio.
Congratulations to Alex Jackman who received a proclamation from the Union County Freeholders in recognition of her efforts related to autism awareness. As you may recall, Alex presented a clip from her video at a recent Board of Education meeting. On December 10th Alex was awarded the ARC of NJ Youth in Action award. It is a new award that the ARC of NJ created specifically for Alex based on her communication efforts related to helping people with special needs.
USA TODAY announced that the Westfield/Plainfield football rivalry, which has been in existence for more than 100 years, won the Best High School Football Rivalry contest in the region. The two local teams received 42,013 votes to beat out their closest competitor by over 6,000 votes. Westfield was victorious over Plainfield this Thanksgiving with a score of 34 – 0.To read more about the final round of the contest which begins December 11th, please check www.westfieldnjk12.org “In the News.”
The Westfield Public Schools will be closed for Winter Break from December 21, 2013 through January 1, 2014.
NEXT BOARD OF EDUCATION MEETINGwill be held January 7, 2014. At this organization meeting Brendan Galligan, Ginny Leiz and Mitch Slater will be sworn in as returning Board members. Other organizational matters also will be discussed and approved so that the Board can continue its work in 2014.
I wish everyone a happy holiday season and a healthy new year.
Margaret Dolan, Ed.D.