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SYNOPSIS by Superintendent of Schools William J. Foley
At a regular meeting held on November 16, the Westfield Board of Education . . .
. . . Received a presentation on the proposed bond referendum to support the installation of a new track and synthetic turf field at Kehler Stadium. Facilities Chair Alice Hunnicutt emphasized the urgent need to replace the 18-year old running track which can no longer be repaired. More than 300 Westfield High School athletes, track teams from Children's Specialized Hospital, Holy Trinity School and the Westfield Y utilize the track, as well as Edison Intermediate School's physical education classes and members of the community.
Ms. Hunnicutt noted that in just 20 years participation in WHS athletics has increased by 83 percent. Similarly, the Westfield Soccer Association has seen a 40 percent increase in participants in just four years. This increase in young athletes is in line with US Census figures, which show a 25 percent increase in children from birth to 14 years in Westfield between 1990 and 2000. These increases have directly affected the demand on our facilities, with 1,354 requests granted for use of our fields by non-school groups last year.
As a result of the continuing and increasing demand for our fields and the underutilization of Kehler field, we are proposing to convert the grass field at Kehler to the new generation of synthetic turf. The field at Kehler Stadium is used primarily for the WHS football team for approximately five varsity games each fall, with PAL the only other regular user. In the spring the field is refurbished and is basically unavailable. We can triple the use of the field and extend the playing season from April through November, with the new generation of artificial turf, which is not subject to weather conditions and uneven playing surfaces. An additional 595 two-hour time slots for Football, Girls and Boys Soccer, Girls and Boys Lacrosse, Field Hockey, Band, and recreational leagues would be available.
Neither the cost of the track replacement or synthetic turf field could be supported through the regular school budget. We are proposing to amortize the $1,381,839 cost for the combined project over a ten-year period through a low interest bond. The tax impact translates to $18/year for the average assessed home in Westfield.
I have reached out to leagues and athletic organizations for their financial support, so that the tax impact will be further reduced. So far, we have obtained $190,000 in pledges and are continuing to accept contributions which will allow the school district to pay the debt sooner than the bond requires. The Westfield Booster Association has established an account for these pledges and donations.
In attendance at Tuesday night's meeting were several WHS athletes who spoke publicly in support of the track/field project. Track athletes made pleas for a safer running surface. Lacrosse, football and field hockey athletes shared their positive experiences when playing on artificial turf fields of other school districts. To date, there are more than 30 school districts in New Jersey that have converted their varsity field to synthetic turf.
. . . Received a report from the WHS Guidance Department regarding the status of 2004-2005 goals. WHS Assistant Principal and Supervisor of Guidance Noah Tennant noted several accomplishments, including an increase in communication to both students and parents. One very significant change will occur this January, with the creation of a new Guidance Department website. Counselor Leslee Scheckman presented a preview of the site, which will include downloadable forms, a calendar of events and individual counselor pages. Counselor Paul Smith demonstrated how one helpful addition to the department's website is functioning already. The installation of a software program called "Naviance" provides historical data to use as a comparison for students who are currently applying to colleges. It contains SAT scores and Grade Point Averages of WHS graduates who were admitted to specific colleges, and also includes general statistics provided by colleges and universities. No personal data is recorded. It will also provide college comparisons, links to third-party resources and other useful information for students and parents.
Counselor Judy Glasser noted that contact with students is on-going, with 85 percent of juniors who are under her wing, having already had discussions with her. To respond to the request of juniors and their parents, the Junior Conference will be moved up to the winter and Junior Parent Night will also be held earlier in the calendar. The counselors have all met with freshmen in groups and will be talking to them individually. Sophomores are scheduled for career testing in small groups, and this time of year seniors are receiving the bulk of attention as their future plans are being finalized. A transition program for eighth graders and students new to WHS has been fully implemented. Maureen Mazzarese, Student Assistance Counselor, will address the transition program at the December 6 Board of Education meeting.
To address the imbalance of class sizes this year at WHS, Mr. Tennant explained that they are planning to link Physical Education classes with Science next year in students' schedules. He plans to send schedules out to students in June to allow ample time to remedy any concerns.
. . . Approved for final reading the following policies: 5511 - Dress and Appearance; 5620 - Expulsion; and 8320 - Personnel Records.
November 14 -20 is American Education Week. I'd like to remember our teachers during this special week and celebrate their many unsung efforts and the interactions that take place between them, their students and parents. If partnerships between teachers and parents are strong, children's chances of success skyrocket. Today's teachers help students learn essential skills not always measured in testing, such as critical thinking, conflict resolution, cooperation, and problem solving, which help students throughout life. Thank you to our teachers!
Board President Anne Riegel's letter to local newspapers in which she acknowledges American Education Week and the accomplishments of Westfield Public Schools follows this issue of Synopsis.
WESTFIELD HIGH SCHOOL
Congratulations to these Westfield High School students who were named to the All State Chorus: Phil Anton, Allison Siko, Alyson Tieman and Nicholas Williams. In addition, Christopher Velderman was selected for the All State Jazz Ensemble. These students recently performed at the Teacher's Convention in Atlantic City and at the NJ Performing Arts Center.
Congratulations to the Boys Cross Country team who qualified to race in the Meet of Champions this coming Saturday, November 20, by performing well in their sectional meet last weekend. Good luck to the team!
The Westfield High School Ice Hockey Association and Parker Greenhouses are hosting another fundraising event to benefit the Westfield Ice Hockey Team. Shop at Parker Gardens between now and December 31 and mention Westfield High School Ice Hockey at the time of purchase. Ten percent of the sale will be donated to the hockey team.
Financial Aid Night will be held at Westfield High School on Tuesday evening, November 30, at 7:30 p.m. in Cafeteria B. A guest speaker from the office of the New Jersey Higher Education Student Assistance Authority will review the details and resources for financing a college education. The Westfield High School Guidance Department encourages parents of sophomores, juniors and seniors to attend.
The Winter Stroll is Coming! Look for more details concerning the Education Fund of Westfield's fundraiser that involves the support of downtown merchants. It will be held Sunday, December 5, 12 noon to 5 p.m.
The Fine Arts Department reports that the number of students enrolled in instrumental music continues to increase. In six years, there has been an increase of 265 students to the instrumental music program in the Westfield Public Schools. Currently there are 1,467 students, representing an 18 percent increase since 1998.
Next Board of Ed meeting - MONDAY, December 6. We will hear from Westfield High School Student Assistance Counselor Maureen Mazzarese who will report on the transition program. We will further discuss the December 14 bond referendum.
All Westfield Public schools will close after a four-hour session on Wednesday, November 24, the day before Thanksgiving and will reopen Monday, November 29. We wish the entire community a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday!
William J. Foley, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools
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