RECOGNIZING THE NATIONAL MERIT FINALISTS
Board President Richard Mattessich presented certificates to WHS seniors who were named National Merit Finalists. The 7 students attaining finalist status represent the largest group in Westfield attaining this honor in more than a decade. According to the National Merit Scholarship Corporation, the nationwide pool of finalists represents approximately one percent of U.S. high school seniors. They are among the highest scoring entrants in the nation on the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test. That includes scores on all 3 testing areas: Critical Reading, Mathematics, and Writing. The National Merit Finalists are: Mark Gillespie, Kristin Hauge, Jill Rosenfeld, Alexander Beals, Rachel Holtzman, Alexandra Mossawir, and Lily Wang.
Business Administrator Dana Sullivan presented a Preliminary 2014-2015 Budget based on months of meetings with school principals, department supervisors and the Board Finance Committee.
One of first things we do is project enrollment for next year to determine the impact on the budget. This was reviewed in detail with the Long Range Planning Committee of the Board. There are no major changes anticipated in the early childhood and elementary grades. We may require an additional AM or PM session of kindergarten, and that is accounted for in our budget for 2014-2015. Since we have one first grade at Jefferson where we are almost at the maximum, we may be coming back to the Board for permission to request that any new first graders enrolled will attend one of our other elementary schools. At the intermediate level, we will see a slight decline in overall enrollment and a continued leveling out at both schools. Our sixth graders will return to their regular school district, since our enrollment in that grade will decrease a bit. We expect some increase in enrollment at WHS with approximately 32 more students. This will require some additional staffing that is included in the budget.
Highlights of the preliminary 2014-2015 budget:
The Board spent several minutes discussing the technology budget, which is estimated at $1,276,700. In addition to the purchase of additional software and instructional and non-instructional supplies, the recommendation is to make needed upgrades, particularly to make high-speed internet accessible in every classroom at the High School. With a price tag of $1,108,529 for upgrading switches and expanding wireless at the High School and virtualizing district servers, the recommendation was made to finance these projects over 3 years at a zero percent rate at a cost of $369,509 per year.
Ms. Sullivan named examples of shared services and efficiencies within the district, including a
The next public discussion of the budget and adoption of the tentative budget will be on March 11.
The Board accepted with regret the following retirements: Jeanne Jensen, who has been the Tamaques School Nurse for 24 years and will be retiring June 30, and George Armstrong, Franklin Lunch Aide since 2000, who retired February 10. We wish them both wonderful, healthy retirements.
Business Administrator Dana Sullivan reported that bids have been opened for the anticipated roof work this summer. She expects to have more information for the Board at the March 25th meeting.
LONG RANGE PLANNING
Ginny Leiz, Chair of Long Range Planning, announced that the committee met to discuss enrollment projections, which I outlined in the Budget segment above.
The Board approved a change in the 2013-2014 calendar to reflect adjustments needed to compensate for extra snow days used during this challenging winter. Fortunately for our school district, our current school calendar had contingencies for some snow days, so further make-up days are minimized. However, we do have to make some changes to the established calendar in order to meet state requirements. With the State’s directive to provide 180 school days and our efforts to honor religious holidays and to preserve Memorial Day (5/26) and Spring Break (4/14 – 4/18), the following adjustments will be in effect for the 2013-2014 school year:
For grades K-8, the LAST DAY OF SCHOOL WILL BE FRIDAY, JUNE 20. The last two days of school, June 19 and June 20, 2014 will be four-hour sessions.
For grades 9-12, Westfield High School will be in session on SATURDAY, APRIL 5, 2014 for a four-hour day. With this additional session, June 19 WILL BE THE LAST DAY OF SCHOOL for WHS students and it remains as Graduation day. (Graduation cannot be held before the 180th day of instruction). The last two days of school, June 18 and June 19, 2014 will be four-hour sessions.
CURRICULUM, INSTRUCTION & PROGRAMS
The Board approved a total of seven field trips and one overnight trip for students to attend curriculum-related events.
The Board heard a presentation from Paul Pineiro, Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum, Instruction and Program, regarding student performance information that the Department of Education releases annually. He noted that our students continue to do very well in all standard assessments. Students of Westfield consistently perform very well above State averages on New Jersey’s assessments and at or typically above the performance of socio-economic peers.
So with all the 2013 testing data in, he shared the following summary:
Mr. Pineiro indicated that these impressive accomplishments are due in a large part from the support, encouragement and guidance the students receive at home from their parents, in classrooms with their teachers, in the community from their neighbors and through the Westfield Board of Education.
The Board gratefully accepted a gift from the Westfield Coalition for the Arts of $3,859 to the Westfield High School Music Department for the purchase of a new choral riser.
WESTFIELD HIGH SCHOOL
· Congratulations to Fraser Weist and Nicole Devitt – seniors at Westfield High School – who are among 3,000 12th graders from throughout the country selected by the federal government as candidates for the U.S. Presidential Scholars Program. Fraser Weist also is a candidate as a U.S. Presidential Scholar in the Arts. No other high school senior in the country has the distinction of being nominated in two categories in this prestigious program. Both Fraser and Nicole earned perfect scores in every subject area of the ACT – a standardized test used for college admission criteria. In addition, Fraser, who is a prolific music composer, was chosen and had attended the national YoungArts Week in Florida earlier this year.
· Congratulations to 4 more Westfield High School 11th graders, who have achieved perfect scores in December 2013 on SAT and ACT standardized tests. They include Jacqueline Napolitano – ACT Science; Brian Johnson –ACT Science and SAT Math 2; Katherine Ko, SAT Writing; and Nina Wang – SAT Reading and Writing. This group of students brings to 19 the total of perfect SAT or ACT scores thus far in the 2013-2014 school year in Westfield.
· Alexandra Jackman, a freshman at Westfield High School and a strong advocate for autism awareness, has been honored for her exemplary volunteer service with a President’s Volunteer Service Award on behalf of President Barack Obama and with a Certificate of Excellence from the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards program. The letter from the White House closes with: “Thank you for your devotion to service and for doing all you can to shape a better tomorrow for our great nation.” Separate and apart from these distinctions, Alex’s video, A Teen’s Guide to Understanding and Communicating with People with Autism, was chosen to be screened at the Palm Beach International Film Festival in the 'Documentary' category. The Festival takes place April 3rd-10th. Congratulations to Alex for the well-deserved admiration and accolades she continues to receive for her autism awareness efforts.
· Congratulations to the Westfield High School Boys Swim Team for winning the State title on Feb 23. It marks the 25th state title, with Westfield High School as the only school to win that many state titles in one sport.
· During the recent Meet of Champions, Westfield High School swimmer Caroline Baldwin won and set a meet record for the 50 Yard Freestyle. In addition, in the 200 Yard Relay, another win and meet record was earned by Caroline Baldwin, Gwyn Devin, Erika Daniel, and Sarah Cronin. Caroline Baldwin also won the 100 Yard Backstroke.
· In Wrestling, we congratulate Nick Velz, who earned the Region 3 Championship. Nick and teammates John Fuller and Matt Barber will advance to the Atlantic City completion for individual state titles. We wish them good luck in this next phase of competition.
· Westfield High School senior Gabby Stravach won both the 1600 and 3200 at the North II Group IV State Sectional Championships on Friday, February 8th. She is the first track and field athlete in the girls program to earn two titles in one meet. Her time in the 1600 was also a school record.
· Matt Luppino was also State Sectional Champion in the 1600 for the boys team.
· Also, we were recently made aware of a recognition made at the end of the fall sports season: Girls Varsity Soccer player Karli Sottung was named Star Ledger Union County Player of the Year. In addition the National Soccer Coaches Association of America named Karli All-Region & All-American.
NEXT BOARD OF EDUCATION MEETING – will be held Tuesday, March 11, at 7:30 PM here at 302 Elm Street. It will include a public discussion of the 2014-2015 budget and adoption of the tentative budget.
Margaret Dolan, Ed.D.