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Concepts &Thought School Board Election Coverage
Candidate Molnar Says Budget, Planning Is Ongoing Process
WESTFIELD – B. Carol Molnar, who is seeking reelection to the Westfield Board of Education, commented that the school budget process has been facilitated by the ongoing planning undertaken by the board.
“As a member of the Finance Committee, I know that developing a school budget each year is a difficult task facing the board which must balance the goal of educational excellence with the local tax burden, as well as operate within the state cap restrictions,” said Ms. Molnar.
“To create such a budget,” she continued, “the district has an ongoing process which constantly addresses both the short term and long term needs. Over the past few years, the board has moved in this direction by creating a long range planning committee to address planning concerns. During my term, I was a strong advocate for the creation of such a committee.”
The incumbent candidate remarked, “To further facilitate the budgeting process, next year’s budget should be addressed by the board this summer utilizing three models: one assuming that state aid remains constant, one assuming a decrease and the other assuming a slight increase.”
“Then, all of the pieces of the budget can be reviewed, while concurrently factoring in all of the contractual and fixed expenses. After
reviewing each model, the board can determine whether the forecasted budgets will be over the state cap. As a result, the entire board, in addition to the Finance Committee, would have a total forecasted picture of next year’s budget, including any funding requirements from the Reserve Fund,” she stated.
“The board can then determine by early fall what new initiatives could be funded and review what measures would be necessary in order to ensure that important programs were continued and enriched,” she commented.
In closing, Ms. Molnar stated, “My past experience and involvement enables me to contribute to this important budget planning process. I thank the community for its support of my reelection on Tuesday, April 18.”
Kimberly Rhodes Candidate Rhodes Considers
BOE Campaign ‘Informative’
WESTFIELD — Kimberly Rhodes, candidate for a threeyear term on the Westfield Board of Education, said that despite the time and expense, running for a seat has been a positive experience.
Ms. Rhodes said that she has met hundreds of new people and heard varying opinions on numerous topics.
“While they don’t necessarily agree on the solutions to the main issues facing our district, almost everyone acknowledges that growing enrollment at the high school, technology, and improved curriculum are the areas requiring immediate board focus,” she said.
“Interestingly enough,” Ms. Rhodes added, “noone denied a future space problem at the high school. I expected some of them to argue that enrollments in the 70’s were even higher than current projections.”
“Maybe they read my article,” she joked referring to her article entitled, “Kimberly Rhodes Addresses Enrollment Growth at WHS,” in the March 23 issue of The Westfield Leader. In that article Ms. Rhodes pointed out that several classrooms at the high school were converted to other uses and that many of today’s programs, like special education, require smaller class sizes.
“However, opinions varied widely about the way the board should address the problem. The vast majority seemed supportive of a bond referendum to pay for an addition to the high school, but they wanted assurance that the board would consider other options like Lincoln School and the Armory. I encouraged all of them to volunteer for any Citizen’s Advisory Committee formed to focus on enrollment growth,” said the candidate.
On the topic of technology, Ms. Rhodes found that the most controversial issue was that of providing
high school teachers with laptop computers. “The people agree that children graduating from Westfield High School must be able to function in today’s highly technological world. For the most part, they admit that our district is behind others in incorporating technology in the classroom,
but many didn’t see how laptops will change that,” she said.
“I read the report prepared by the PTC Education Studies Committee, and it provides strong support for the laptop initiative.” Ms. Rhodes stated. “The report says that once teachers have access to computers, they begin using them to enhance ins t r u c t i o n . Westfield teachers will be expected to use their computers for grading, attendance and parent communication.”
In the area of curriculum, Ms. Rhodes said that she has heard repeatedly that the district needs to revamp its K8 math program.
“Numerous parents have expressed concern that the middle school math curriculum doesn’t mesh well with that at the elementary schools. I’m happy that the district is attending to this issue. They have an excellent new math coordinator, Regina Keycheck, who is charged with selecting a teaching method that will provide consistency from kindergarten through grade 8. Several alternatives are currently being piloted.”
Ms. Rhodes added that elementary world language and technology are some of the other exciting new curriculum initiatives.
“I have really enjoyed talking to the voters,” Ms. Rhodes said in summary, “and if elected, I would welcome the same dialog. I have supported this community as a member of several volunteer organization and school committees, I have experience in school finance, and I want to serve.”
Ava McNamara Community Input Is Key, States
BOE Candidate Ava McNamara
SCOTCH PLAINS – Continuing her campaign for the Scotch PlainsFanwood Board of Education, Ava McNamara stressed the importance of continued community involvement in the critical issues that face the school district.
According to the candidate, many parents and taxpayers came out to speak or listen at the recent Facilities and Enrollment presentations. Those who spoke, Mrs. McNamara reported, asked questions and/ or communicated strong feelings about the educational direction they would like to see the district take.
“I think it would be a crime to see many of those same people stop contributing now that a decision has been made. Much planning remains before this district sees the approved plan completed,” the candidate stated.
Mrs. McNamara said she believes the ideal way to move forward is to keep the community actively participating in the discussions to come. “This election will decide who will sit on the board responsible for bringing the referendum to the public. There are many details that need public input and approval if this plan is to be successful,” she said.
Mrs. McNamara urges all interested parties to come to board meetings. “Meetings to take place in April and May will most definitely address the Facilities and Enrollment fund ing. This will be a critical time for
those members of the public concerned about the financial decisions to attend and be heard,” she urged.
The candidate believes accountability is what being on the board is all about. “It is the responsibility of everyone on the board and in the administration to be certain the public understands the key issues surrounding this district’s critical decisions. The referendum is only one of several important phases in this district’s facilities saga. I know I can contribute positively because my own children will be impacted. No one on the board or running can make that claim,” she said.
In a final comment about accountability, Mrs. McNamara stated that the public must be accountable as well. “They must watch their elected officials and take time to educate themselves, whether about the referendum or the upcoming board elections. I would like to be the board member they can count on to make the process of being informed and educated as easy and open as possible,” she stated.
“Whatever your feelings on the board, it’s business or the candidates, just please remember to vote on April 18,” she concluded.
Westfield Candidate Billson Urges Public Involvement
Peter W. Billson
WESTFIELD — Speaking after “Meet The Candidates Night,” Westfield Board of Education candidate Peter W. Billson said, “Having five people running for three seats is really wonderful. The open discussion and exchange of ideas is what the electoral process is all about.”
That evening, Mr. Billson, who is running on a platform of open and honest communication, staged an exercise designed to showcase the effectiveness of involving the entire community in our children’s education, including the twothirds of the individuals who do not have children in the school system.
During his opening remarks Mr. Billson asked members of the audience to donate something to the exercise. “Everyone was eager to get involved. They trusted me with their car keys, credit cards and cash. All I needed to do was ask them to help. There is an important lesson to be learned in this simple exercise. Ask for what you need and Westfielders respond.”
Mr. Billson continued by saying, “But we can’t just involve the public one month a year. The entire public needs to be engaged 12 months a year for the system to work. A philosophy of inclusion not exclusion.”
If elected, Mr. Billson pledges to “use my position on the board to
engage the entire public in the educational system.” The candidate stressed a simple point. “There are a great number of ways that every person can become involved in the education of our children. Many of them are fun and
require very little time,” he said.
Speaking about Candidates Night, Mr. Billson said, “Every resident of Westfield is encouraged to watch. While it may not be quiet as entertaining as ‘NYPD Blue, ’ the topics covered directly affect your life.”
C a n d i d a t e s Night will be televised nightly at 4 and 8 p. m. on TV36 from now through Monday, April 17.
Mr. Billson is now asking each of the residents to become involved. “Don’t depend upon your friends and neighbors to become involved. Everyone should be responsible. Go out and vote on April 18 from 2 until 9 p. m.,” the candidate urged.
Furthering his platform of communication, Mr. Billson is encouraging the public to voice their hopes, dreams, concerns, ideas, suggestions and complaints to him directly. He may be reached by phone at (908) 3178606, via email to pete@ elbnet. com or by fax to (908) 2320473.
Please send Education News to: michelle @goleader. com
Candidates’ Night and Budget Information to Air on TV36
WESTFIELD — The Westfield Board of Education “Meet the Candidates Night,” which was held on March 27 and sponsored by the Westfield ParentTeacher Council and the Westfield Area League of Women Voters, will be shown on TV36 the following dates/ times:
·Friday, April 14 9 p. m.
·Saturday, April 15 2 &10 p. m.
·Sunday, April 16 12 & 8 p. m.
·Monday, April 17 4 & 7 p. m. The program will also air during
the weekend of April 7. Exact times will be posted on the programming guide on Channel 36.
The Westfield Board of Education will also inform the public about key initiatives in the 20002001 school budget through a short video that will air the beginning of April through the election. For the benefit of the viewers, it will be shown several times a day.
The school election will be held Tuesday, April 18, from 2 to 9 p. m.
Amanda C. Koscielecki Earns First Honors
At Marist College
SCOTCH PLAINS – Amanda C. Koscielecki of Scotch Plains was awarded first honors on the Marist College Dean’s List for the fall 1999 semester. Amanda, a freshmen student, is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Frank J. Koscielecki.
Thomas J. Killian Set to Compete In State Level Bee
WESTFIELD – Thomas J. Killian, a student at Edison Intermediate School in Westfield, will test his geography knowledge at the statelevel competitions of the National Geographic Bee this Friday, April 7.
‘Letting Go’ Workshop Planned by SPF PTA
SCOTCH PLAINS – The Scotch PlainsFanwood High School Parent Teacher Association (PTA) will present “Letting Go,” a discussion on issues which can develop between parents and children as the youth progress through high school and prepare to “leave the nest.”
The forum will be hosted on Wednesday, April 12, at 7: 30 p. m. in the high school’s multipurpose room.
Karen McDermott, District Supervisor of Guidance, and Liz KnodelGordon, District Substance Awareness Coordinator, will lead the discussions.
All are welcome to attend.
‘Dollars for Students’ Drive Set by Scholarship Foundation
SCOTCH PLAINS – The Scotch PlainsFanwood Scholarship Foundation will conduct its 33 rd annual residential canvass, “Dollars for Students” on Saturday, April 15, and Sunday, April 16.
The Foundation is seeking contributions to provide financial assistance to deserving Scotch Plains and Fanwood student residents in their post high school education. Approximately 60 local high school and college students will be making doortodoor solicitations throughout
Scotch Plains and Fanwood. In addition to its own fundraising efforts, the Foundation also administers scholarships sponsored by 20 local organizations as well as administering the capital of 23 established memorial scholarship funds.
Since it was founded in 1966, the Foundation has administered $791,370 in scholarships for the benefit of local students. Last year, $83,900 of financial aid was administered by the Foundation to 61 of the students who applied. This year, the screening committee is in the process of evaluating 90 applications from local high school and college students.
The housetohouse canvass and a direct mail effort are the Foundation’s only fundraising efforts for its “Dollars for Students” scholarships. If residents are not contacted by a student, donations may be sent to the Scotch PlainsFanwood Scholarship Foundation, P. O. Box No. 123, Fanwood, 07023.
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102 Elm Street • Westfield 9082328956
offering classes and seminars embracing the whole person
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• Hatha Yoga • Healing Meditations • Comparative Spirituality • Tai Chi/ Chi Kung • PreNatal Yoga • Reiki Therapy • Massage Therapy
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FOR BOE BILLSON FOR BOE BILLSON PETE PETE
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