Superintendent » Superintendent's Synopsis

Superintendent's Synopsis

Synopsis of

Westfield Board of Education Meeting and Workshop on December 4, 2018

By Superintendent Margaret Dolan



On behalf of the entire Board, Board President Gretchan Ohlig presented congratulatory certificates to 10 members of the Boys Cross Country team and their coaches as NJSIAA Sectional Champions.  The boys team also finished 2nd at the Group 4 State Championship and competed at the Meet of Champions.  Coach Christopher Tafelski, who also was recognized for contributing to the program’s 100th consecutive dual meet win, praised the 67 runners who make up the boys team roster for their dedication and hard work.  He also commended the seniors, including four team captains, for their leadership and character.


Two members of the Girls Tennis team also received recognition as the 1st Doubles Team to compete in the state finals since 2005.  Seniors Charlotte Clausen and Eliza Weiniger also won the 1st Doubles title at the Union County Tournament and received First Team All-State honors.

Girls Tennis Coach Matthew Varhley was recognized for the program’s 800th win; he praised the pair as “great tennis players and tremendous people.”


Surrounded by members of the Girls Field Hockey team, Coach Caitlin Cheddar accepted a congratulatory certificate in recognition of the program’s 400th win.



The Board received an overview of the annual audit of the 2017-2018 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.  Mr. Morrison’s 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.  Mr. Morrison complimented the Business Office and noted best practices that included the decision to switch to a self-insured health benefits plan.


Mr. Morrison noted that, due to a change in reporting standards and a delay in receiving necessary data from the state, the financial statement portion of the audit is incomplete but does not impact or alter the firm’s findings.  Once the audit is complete, it will be put on a future agenda for Board action.

The Board accepted with regret the retirement of Lincoln School paraprofessional Roseanne Schliesske who has worked tirelessly for Westfield Public Schools for 29 years.  Ms. Schliesske’s last day will be June 30, 2019 and we certainly wish her well.


The Board approved a contract for the installation of emergency generators at all of our schools.  Business Administrator Dana Sullivan stated that the work is expected to begin next spring and that we hope to have each emergency generator in place by the start of the 2019-2020 school year.



Long Range Planning Chair Amy Root noted that the district’s alumni outreach effort to build an alumni directory and create a newsletter is underway and that Social and Emotional Learning is among the topics to be discussed by the committee.



The Board approved for first reading the 2020-2021 School Calendar.  The final reading of the proposed 2020-2021 calendar will be on January 3, 2019.


The Board approved for second reading the following policies:


  • 6470 - Payment of Claims (Finances)
  • 6660 - Student Activities Funds (Finances)
  • 7430 - School Safety (Property)
  • 7440 - School District Security (Property)
  • 9150 - School Visitors (Community)


The Board affirmed my decision on two HIB incidents.



Ms. Ohlig reported on a recent Curriculum Committee meeting at which the topics included Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) as well as the district’s math curriculum and Holocaust education.


The Board approved district field trips as correlated with curriculum.


The Board approved for first reading the following curricula:



            Algebra II / Algebra II Advanced / Algebra II Honors


            Pre-Calculus Advanced

            Pre-Calculus Honors



The Board accepted with gratitude the following donations:


  • A gift of $1,260 from the Franklin School PTO to purchase poster paper, a new backboard for the gymnasium and five classroom document cameras.
  • A gift from Mr. and Mrs. Magnanini of a Bach 1530 trumpet and case valued at $200 to be used by the district where necessary.
  • A gift of $4,480 from the McKinley School PTO for the installation of a wood fence around the garden area.
  • A gift of an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) valued at $1,126.50 from AHS Hospital Corporation to be used at Westfield High School.


Mrs. Sullivan noted a slight change in the Board meeting schedule due to the State budget calendar.  The April 23, 2019 Board of Education meeting has been rescheduled to April 30.



On behalf of the entire Board, Ms. Ohlig presented a resolution to outgoing Board Member Robert Garrison, commending him for his three years of service and dedication to the children, families and community members of Westfield.  Ms. Ohlig read statements from Board members Michael Bielen and Charles Ostroff who were not able to attend the meeting; each praised Mr. Garrison for his insight and tireless commitment.  Ms. Ohlig credited Mr. Garrison with changing the culture of the Board to recognize the transparent nature of work the Board does and thanked him for his unique perspective.   Board vice president Peggy Oster and member Amy Root made laudatory remarks as well.


Mr. Garrison thanked the Board, praised the district, and reflected on his years of service.  He welcomed new member Tara Oporto and wished her well as she prepares to join the Board in January.



Mr. Garrison noted that the Wilson Craft Fair is scheduled for December 8 and that he will be attending a meeting of the Garden State Coalition of Schools on December 18.


Board member Kent Diamond reported on a recent meeting of the Tamaques PTO at which the successful Thanksgiving food drive was discussed.


Board member Brendan Galligan stated that career and technical education were among the topics discussed at a meeting of the New Jersey School Boards Association in Trenton.


Ms. Ohlig reported on a discussion of the Westfield Town Master Plan at a meeting of the town’s steering committee, noting that the committee will be reaching out to the community as it reexamines the Master Plan and is excited to involve our students in the conversation.  Ms. Ohlig noted the importance of continuing dialogue between the school district and township officials regarding changing demographics and any impact on student enrollment.


The Board heard from a resident concerned about how news of the recent hateful graffiti at Edison was communicated by the district.  The resident objected to the omission of the word swastika in the description of the incident. I explained that the individual who defaced school property attacked various groups of people with graffiti, that it was not solely anti-Semitic, and that I purposely chose, in my email to parents, not to provide details related to an active police investigation regarding a minor. I further noted that when we had an incident earlier this year that involved a swastika alone, that word specifically was used in our communications.  Ms. Ohlig noted that the district has been accused of a muted response in the past and that there was nothing muted about the response this time when I stated clearly that what happened at Edison is unacceptable and that we condemn and reject hate.


The Board also heard from another resident who inquired about a districtwide initiative to reject hate and about parent accountability.  



The Board held a workshop to develop a Guiding Change Document for the development of the budget for 2019-2020.





Congratulations to 8 Westfield High School students who recently achieved the highest score possible on the SAT and ACT standardized tests. Westfield High School principal Dr. Derrick Nelson congratulated the students, citing their outstanding achievement on the tests which are widely used for college admission criteria.  Top scorers on the October 6 SAT Math are 11th graders Shayan Burns and Sivaji Turimella.  Eleventh grader Stephen Park earned a perfect score on the November 3 SAT Math.  And on the October ACT, the following 11th graders achieved perfect scores:  Mark Falletta (Reading), Robert Hinderliter (Science), Stephen Park (Reading), Samantha Shih (Reading), Alan Solovey (Math), and William Surks (Science and STEM).


Three Westfield High School students will perform in 2019 All-Eastern Honors Ensembles next April in Pittsburgh.  Selected to perform with the All-Eastern Honors Orchestra are senior Kevin Li (1st Violin Section) and junior Brooke Walden (Flute and Piccolo).  Senior Matthew Siroty was selected as a vocalist with the All-Eastern Honors Chorus.  Each student will spend three days rehearsing with one of five conductors during the Eastern Division Conference of the National Association for Music Education (NAFME), in preparation for performances on April 7, 2019.  Congratulations to these talented musicians and their dedicated instructors for this prestigious recognition.

Westfield High School vocalists Charlotte Geary, Zachary Lemberg, Joseph Maldonado, Vincent Mora, and Matthew Siroty represented WHS at the All-State Mixed Chorus concert at NJPAC on November 18.   We applaud our students and their vocal instructors for their talent and devotion to music.


Congratulations to the cast and crew of Westfield High School’s fall production, “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead” which was performed before enthusiastic audiences last month.   Hats off as well to director Daniel Devlin and the dedicated theatre parent community that supports each production.



A total of 27 winter concerts are taking place in Westfield Public Schools, beginning December 4 and ending on February 9.  The entire schedule can be found on the district’s website at in the December-January edition of Arts a la Carte.  Westfield senior citizens are once again invited to the final rehearsal of Westfield High School’s Winter Choral Concert on Wednesday, December 19 from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in the high school’s auditorium at 550 Dorian Road.  There is ramp access at the front of the auditorium.


Congratulations to Supervisor of K-12 Social Studies Andrea Brennan and Westfield High School social studies teachers Hilary Haskell, Kimberly Leegan, and Elizabeth Piombino, who gave a presentation at the annual conference of the National Council for the Social Studies in Chicago on 11/30 - 12/2/18.  The theme of the conference was “Yesterday - Tomorrow:  Building the Future of Social Studies.”  Our four educators presented an overview of a popular social studies project in Westfield Public Schools that empowers students to discover and connect their own stories of history through oral narratives and genealogy.


As it has done in previous years, the Westfield Public School District is hosting two important graduate level Holocaust Education courses. These courses equip educators with information and teaching strategies to implement a longstanding multidisciplinary program in the district’s K-12 curriculum that includes age-appropriate instruction in the Holocaust and genocide.  You can read more about the district’s Holocaust/Genocide education in the “Recent News” section of the district website.



A key goal for the Westfield Public School District for 2018-2019 is to assess current practices promoting Social and Emotional Learning and to expand for consistency districtwide. To help parents and other members of the community better understand SEL and the ways it is incorporated into everyday learning, an SEL page has been created on the district website at (and on each school homepage) under the Family Resources tab.  Please visit the SEL page often in the coming months as videos and other resources on this important topic are posted.



Looking ahead to the 2019-2020 school year, in January, the district will conduct kindergarten registration for all children who are residents of Westfield and will reach the age of 5 on or before October 1, 2019.  First grade registration also will be held for children who are residents of Westfield and will reach the age of 6 on or before October 1, 2019 and have not yet attended the Westfield Public Schools.  The registration schedule and forms are posted on the district’s website on the Family Resources tab under “Student Registration.”



The Westfield Public Schools will be closed for winter break from Monday, December 24 through Tuesday, January 1.



The next meeting of the Westfield Board of Education will include the reorganization of the Board and will be held on Thursday, January 3 at 7:30 p.m. at 302 Elm Street.  The complete agenda will be available on Friday, December 21 on the Board section of the district website.


Wishing you a happy and healthy holiday season.


Margaret Dolan, Ed.D.

Superintendent of Schools


Westfield Public Schools – A Tradition of Excellence

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