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OUR 110th YEAR – ISSUE NO. 26110 FIFTY CENTS (908) 2324407 Thursday, March 2, 2000 USPS 680020 Periodical – Postage Paid at Westfield, N. J. Published Every Thursday

Since 1890

Ad Populos, Non Aditus, Pervenimus


A& E............... Page 22 Business ........ Page 19 Classifieds ..... Page 21

Editorial ........ Page 4 Obituary ........ Page 10 Religious ....... Page 11

Social ............ Page 6 Sports ............ Page 13


Garwood Resident Pronounced Dead After Being Struck By NJ Transit Train in Westfield


Specially Written for The Westfield Leader

WESTFIELD — A 31yearold Garwood man who had worked parttime at Starbucks Coffee in Westfield the last two years was killed last Friday when a NJ Transit train struck him.

Thomas Gallison of Fourth Avenue was pronounced dead at the scene by the Union County Medical Examiner, Westfield Police Lieutenant John M. Parizeau said. No ruling has been issued yet on the case by the medical examiner, who performed an autopsy last Friday, the lieutenant added.

Lieutenant Parizeau said that at about 5: 35 a. m. last Friday, NJ Transit train No. 5404 — which originates in Raritan and is scheduled to arrive in the Westfield Train Station at 5: 32 a. m. — was eastbound on track No. 2 when the engineer saw Mr. Gallison lying across the tracks. The train was west of the Westfield Train Station and the Lord & Taylor department store at the time.

The engineer sounded the train’s air horn and observed the victim lift

his head, but Gallison did not get up from the tracks, the lieutenant said. The engineer put on his emergency break, but was unable to stop the train.

The train was traveling between 50 and 60 mph in an 80mph zone, according to police.

Lieutenant Parizeau said that after the incident police found the victim’s car parked in the 700 block of West South Avenue. He said the case will remain open until a ruling is rendered by the medical examiner.

Thousands of NJ Transit train riders on the Raritan Valley line were affected when the eastbound train stopped.

NJ Transit spokeswoman Nancy Snyder said that 55 passengers were transferred to another train that was dispatched on the adjacent eastbound track. Those passengers were delayed about one hour, she said.

Passengers on the next train were delayed about 35 minutes and the remainder of the morning peak riders experienced delays of about 20

minutes, she said. Ms. Snyder added that incidents such as these are “nightmares” for train engineers and that the engineer driving the train Friday morning was “devastated” by what had happened.

While a Starbucks spokesman confirmed that Mr. Gallison was a parttime employee at the Westfield establishment, he would not comment about anything personal about the victim.

Alan Hilowitz, a regional spokesman for Starbucks, cited corporate policy as prohibiting the discussion of personal details about employees, or “partners,” as Starbucks refers to them.

Mr. Hilowitz did say that Starbucks was “very deeply saddened’ by Mr. Gallison’s death. “Right now, our concern is with the wellbeing of the rest of the partners,” he said.

According to the Dooley Funeral Home in Cranford, which handled

the arrangements earlier this week, Mr. Gallison graduated from Union County College with an associate’s degree in dramatic arts. He graduated from David Brearley Regional High School in Kenilworth in 1987.

An aspiring actor, musician and novice filmmaker, he had performed in many theatrical productions throughout the tristate area.

He was a native of Plainfield, but had lived in Garwood for many years.

He is survived by his mother, Dorothy Stacey; his stepfather, William E. Stacey of Garwood; his father, Richard Gallison of Corinna, Me.; two brothers, Richard of Atkinson, Me. and Robert of Garwood, and two sisters, Debra Shibe of Milltown and Leslie Steeg of South Plainfield.

Contributions may be made to the Garwood First Aid Squad, Garwood, 07027.


50 Years After Introduction to Dental Community, Fluoride in Drinking Water Still Causes Controversy


Specially Written for The Westfield Leader

Even though several municipalities have endorsed a plan to fluoridate the local water supply, there are still some area residents opposed to the idea and seek open discussions of both sides of the issue.

The Westfield Regional Health Department in early December approved a resolution backing the fluoridation of the local water supply. While the resolution has the backing of both Westfield Mayor Thomas C. Jardim and the Westfield Regional Health Department, it has yet to be considered for approval by the Westfield Town Council.

Scotch Plains and Fanwood councils have both approved a resolution backing fluoridation of the water. Mountainside has not yet considered the issue.

The other 23 neighboring municipalities located east of Elizabethtown Water’s Bridgewater plant, which share the water line with Westfield, are being urged to approve fluoridation as well.

Fluoride, which comes from the element fluorine, is found in the air, naturally in water and in varying concentrations in many foods and beverages.

Too much fluoride consumed during early childhood as teeth are forming is known to cause fluorosisa brownish discoloration of teeth. This condition is almost never seen in communities which do not fluoridate their water.

So, the U. S. Public Health Service has established that a concentration of fluoride in water in the U. S. of between 0.7 and 1.2 parts per million (PPM) is sufficient to reduce tooth decay yet will prevent fluorosis. This concentration is the approximate equivalent of one penny in $10,000.

The American Dental Association (ADA) has endorsed fluoride for 50

years, claiming the substance makes teeth harder and less cavityprone.

Many other health agencies recognize a benefit of fluoride to dental health as well.

The American Medical Association followed the ADA recommendation and endorsed fluoride in 1951 and again in 1986 and 1996. The World Health Organization and US Public Health Service both favor the use of fluoride.

According to the ADA, fluoride has dental benefits for both adults and children. When applied topically, that is to the surface of the teeth such as when brushing with fluoridated toothpaste, it will strengthen teeth that have already

been formed. When fluoride is ingested systemically, as it is when it is added to the drinking water, it will become incorporated into developing tooth structures if taken during the time the teeth are developing.

Excess fluoride in the body is excreted, but that which remains in the body settles in the “hard tissues” the bones and teeth. Skeletal fluorosis, a weakness and brittleness of bones, is caused by excess fluoride settling in the bones.

But, 50 years after its introduction to the dental community, fluoride is still causing controversy among those who remain unconvinced about its necessity and even question its safety.

The FDA has never approved fluoride as a drug nor does it consider it an essential nutrient.

Some in the scientific community consider fluoride to be a toxin, and concerns linger over the source of the fluoride added to water supplies, and the cumulative and longrange effects of years of fluoridation.


Library Seeks $44,000 Increase In Allocation From Town Budget


Specially Written for The Westfield Leader

The Westfield Memorial Library is seeking a $44,000 increase over the amount the town allocated to the library last year. The library’s Board of Trustees proposed budget this year is $1,344,086.

Cynthia Cockren, Library Board Treasurer, explained that the increase over last year is 3.8 percent.

She explained that the biggest capital expenditures this year are for the replacement of carpeting in high traffic areas in the 11yearold library and replacement of lighting on the building’s second floor.

Salaries, wages and benefits account for 66 percent of the total library spending plan.

This year the town is mandated by the state to pay an allocation of $1,116,000. The board is seeking $1,197,094, an amount that includes $35,720 for Sunday hours.

The Sunday hours were initiated last September and have been a tremendous success, library officials told the council. The council funded $1,153,500 to the library last year, the full amount requested by the

library board. When Sunday hours began in the fall, the number of people utilizing the facility was under 300. Upon promotion of the Sunday hours, including a sign in front of the building, the number of patrons steadily climbed to as many as 800 by the 18th week of the program.

Library Director Barbara Thiele noted that 95 percent of the Sunday users have been from Westfield.

According to the library’s 1999 annual report, last year 311,000 patrons visited the library. A total of 298,821 items were circulated.

Aside from its annual budget, which supports the daily operation and maintenance of the library, the facility received $390,000 in memorial donations from 76,000 individuals and another $22,850 in donations from the Friends of the Westfield Library.

In addition to the town allocation, the library budget is supported by other revenue sources, including $30,992 in state aid, $57,000 in overdue fines, $9,000 in video fees and $50,000 in fine revenue not spent in 1999.

In terms of the full municipal budget, the Town Council has completed its first run through the proposed $24,619,061 municipal budget. The proposed tax levy is $13,014,881, representing an increase of five cents

per $100 of assessed valuation over last year, or $1,069,703.

A penny in the tax rate equates to roughly $180,000 in spending in the budget. The proposed municipal rate for 2000 is 72 cents per $100 of assessed valuation. The current assessed amount is 57 percent of the market value in Westfield.

Former Town Administrator Edward A. Gottko has been working with his successor, Thomas P. Shannon, in working through the budget process with the council this year.

On the revenue side of the budget, Mr. Gottko explained that state aid this year has dropped from $4,247,924 to $4,203,724.

In addition, $4,575,455 in miscellaneous revenue will be used to offset spending. These revenue sources include $644,900 fees from parking meters and permits, $570,000 from the town’s sale of assets account (consisting mostly of sale of townowned land over the past several years), $750,000 in interest on municipal investments and deposits, and $180,825 on interest charged for Westfielders who pay their property taxes late.

Another big revenue area is the result of residents who pay their school taxes the prior year to take advantage of deductions on their income taxes.

Ingrid McKinley for The Westfield Leader TRAGEDY ON THE TRAIN TRACKS… Thomas Gallison, 31, of Fourth Avenue in Garwood, who had worked parttime at Starbucks Coffee in Westfield the last two years, was killed last Friday when a NJ Transit train struck him. Mr. Gallison was pronounced dead at the scene by the Union County Medical Examiner, Westfield Police Lieutenant John M. Parizeau said. No ruling has been issued yet on the case by the medical examiner, who performed an autopsy last Friday.

Kerrianne Spellman Cort for The Westfield Leader REMOVING THE MUCK AND MIRE… Lake Surprise in Watchung is being dredged to remove the sediment that has built up over time. The purpose of the dredging is to keep the lake healthy and clean.

Ingrid McKinley for The Westfield Leader WHAT’S COOKING?… A demonstration of cookware by Health Craft was one of the many booths on display during the Home Design and Landscape Show that was recently held at the Westfield Armory.


Consultant Recommends MultiTiered Deck for Town


Specially Written for The Westfield Leader

To fulfill downtown Westfield’s chronic need for additional parking, a hired consultant has proposed construction of a parking structure on the existing South Avenue commuter parking lot adjacent to the train station.

Based on an anticipated shortfall of 977 spaces around the downtown in just five years, Rich and Associates of Southfield, Mich. has recommended construction of a multilevel structure that could range in size from a minimum of 743 spots to 1,327 spaces.

Given the footprint of the structure itself (which covers a certain amount of existing lot spaces), the amount of new available parking spaces in the deck would range from 471 to 927 spaces.

Consultant Rick Rich anticipated that the size of the facility would be

dependent upon the number of spaces the structure would hold.

Estimated construction costs for the larger facility are $16.2 million, compared to $10.1 million for the smaller structure.

Depending upon its size, the structure would feature 22,000 to 30,500 square feet of retail or office space on the first floor facing South Avenue.

The goal of the parking deck would be to provide longterm parking for employees and commuters on the south side of town, thereby freeing up shortterm parking spaces on the north side of town for shoppers and other visitors.

“Our biggest concern is to maintain the vitality (of the downtown), to maintain the level of business activity we’re at,” said Executive Director of the Downtown Westfield Corporation Michael La Place. “We’re looking to stabilize what’s here. With (present) parking capacity, we can’t maintain that prosperity.”

Both Mayor Thomas C. Jardim and the Town Council have identified a parking facility as their major priority item for the year.

If the plan put forth by Rich and Associates is approved, the structure would be the major component of a significant overhaul of Westfield’s existing parking system.

“Ideally, the system needs to stand on its own,” explained Mr. Rich during a press conference yesterday morning. His firm recommended formation of a Parking Authority as part of its proposal. As he sees it, the authority would collect the parking revenues, pay the bills and pay the

debt service on the structure. Under the recommendation, it would cost more to park in Westfield. Monthly parking permits for the “core” downtown area north of the railroad tracks would cost more than permits for south side parking ($ 70 per month versus $50 per month). Meter rates would rise to 50 cents per hour, and fines would increase to $15 from the present $13.

Stricter enforcement of parking regulations is also recommended in order for the new system to work. The proposal calls for two fulltime meter monitors compared to the present two parttime people. It also extends the enforcement period from late afternoon to 9 p. m.

Multispace meters in certain north side lots would facilitate enforcement efforts and allow for variable time limits. For example, in the lots close to restaurants and the Rialto Theatre, limits could be extended to three hours after 6 p. m. to accommodate evening visitors to town. Improved signage identifying lots and times (twohour, threehour limits) is also suggested.

“It’s the people who benefit from the parking who pay for it,” said Mr. Rich, adding that most municipal parking operations routinely raise rates every three years by approximately 10 percent.

Hired to examine Westfield’s existing parking system “from a qualitative and quantitative standpoint,” Rich and Associates was asked to submit a proposal that would coordinate the town’s existing parking and make recommendations regarding the size and location of Westfield’s first

Page 12 Thursday, March 2, 2000 The Westfield Leader and THE TIMES of Scotch Plains – Fanwood A WATCHUNG COMMUNICATIONS, INC. PUBLICATION


Westfield Police Arrest Pair in Home Burglary


Specially Written for The Westfield Leader

WESTFIELD — Police collared two men who were allegedly caught in the act of burglarizing a Westfield residence and then attempted to flee through a neighboring backyard last Saturday afternoon.

Lieutenant John M. Parizeau of the Westfield Police Department said authorities responded to a 911 call received at 3: 45 p. m. concerning a burglary in the 400 block of West Broad Street.

According to the lieutenant, the owner of the residence arrived home and spotted a male suspect descending an exterior stairway. The individual then went back up the stairs into the home, with the homeowner following him up the stairs.

Two men then “came charging down” the stairway and a struggle ensued between the pair and the homeowner, Lieutenant Parizeau confirmed.

The suspects subsequently attempted to flee in a 1989 Jeep Cherokee which they apparently had left parked in front of the victim’s house and which had been stolen earlier in the day in Linden, he added.

After the homeowner blocked the jeep with his own vehicle, the

two men fled on foot, the lieutenant continued. The 911 call was made by a neighbor who had been alerted by the victim, he said.

Arriving at the scene, Westfield officers Vincent Piano and Anthony V. Vastano pursued the suspects into a backyard on First Street, which runs parallel to West Broad Street and apprehended them shortly afterwards.

Casiano Carrillo, 36, and Orlando Flechas, 26, both of Newark, were each charged with robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, theft, criminal mischief and receiving stolen property, the lieutenant said.

He added that $500 in cash and some papers reportedly belonging to the victim were found in the suspects’ possession. The lieutenant said no weapons were discovered on either of the men.

Carrillo and Flechas were being held in the Union County Jail in Elizabeth on $20,000 bail each.

Lieutenant Parizeau said the 43yearold victim was treated by Westfield Volunteer Rescue Squad personnel for minor abrasions as a result of the scuffle but did not require transportation to a medical facility. Many studies support the theory

that widespread use of fluoride significantly decreases the incidences of dental cavities. But other researchers have found no statistical evidence illustrating a difference in the amount of dental decay between children who live in fluoridated and nonfluoridated communities.

Opponents of fluoridation point to studies showing fluoride increases the incidence of tooth decay and dental fluorosis, citing the residents of cities that do not fluoridate their water having less of both than neighboring towns who do fluoridate.

In 1993, the EPA commissioned the National Research Council to study the effects of fluoride on cancer, bone disease and kidney disease. The findings state that at the fluoride levels of 0.71.2 PPM currently allowed in U. S. drinking water, fluoride does not pose a threat to the above health problems.

Fluoride was found to be carcinogenic by the National Cancer Institute Toxicological Program in 1990, but not by the American Cancer Institute’s 1998 study. Additional studies claim no correlation between fluoride and heart disease, Down’s Syndrome, Alzheimer’s

Mr. Gottko noted, however, that the actual amount of prepaid school tax revenue this year is $641,362, a decline of $225,000 from 1999.

The council must decide how much money to use from the surplus account, funds derived from unspent appropriations in previous years. Currently, the surplus account stands at $3,161,000, a total of around $900,000 of which was left over from last when 4 percent of a $23.6 million budget was unspent. The sale of assets account has $5,375,000 in it.

Of the $900,000 amount, the line item for reserve for uncollected is proposed at $1.9 million. Westfield has a 98 percent collection rate. Westfield must collect 100 percent


Disease or neurological diseases. Studies prove fluoride inhibits metabolic enzymes.

Some children have allergic reactions to fluoride right in the dentist’s chair.

Studies prior to 1990 claimed the addition of fluoride to the drinking water caused an increase in hip fractures. Later studies negated this and concluded fluoride in drinking water has no impact on hip fractures or bonemineral density.

Fluoride does aid in increasing bone mass and it may have favorable impact on strengthening bone.

To this end, fluoride has been experimentally used to treat osteoporosis. Fivetoten grams of fluoride consumed at one time is toxic to a 155pound person.

While it is unlikely that anyone would ingest this much fluoride, parents are cautioned to avoid excess consumption in children, especially when using toothpaste.

The FDA links fluoride with decreasing fertility rates, and the scientific community continues to study both the beneficial and detrimental effects of fluoride.

* * * * *

Several Internet sources were used to write this article.

of taxes for the Westfield school district, the County of Union as well as the town.

The proposed spending plan does not include a number of proposed operational and capital items.

These include:

· Proposals to create a planning and community development or economic development department to streamline the planning and zoning boards, Historic Preservation Commission and Architectural Review Board and construction code and permit review processes. The department would be headed by a fulltime town planner.

· A request from the Westfield Community Council Senior Citizens Task Force for $175,000 to fund transportation for senior citizens in the town.

· Creation of a parks maintenance department at cost of between $325,740 and $511,820, depending on whether new staff are hired or workers are transferred from the Department of Public Works to the new entity. Recreational officials have suggested an open space tax to pay for this department. Recreation officials estimate a budget increase of $270,000 over the current recreation department spending plan if the department is approved. Development of an open space tax must be approved by voters in the form of a referendum.

The town will also make its first payment this year of $256,000 on Public Works and fire department equipment, including a new fire pumper and fire communications system, purchased through last year’s Union County Improvement Authority lease program.

The council will hold budget meetings after thus Tuesday’s council public meeting and on Saturday, March 11. The meetings are conducted by the Second Ward Councilman and Finance Committee Chairman James J. Gruba.

Fluoride in Drinking Water Still Causes Controversy

Westfield Library Seeks $44,000 Increase from Town Budget


Club Malibu Liquor License Renewal Up in Air as Hearing Continued to Late March


Specially Written for The Westfield Leader

SCOTCH PLAINS -The question of whether to renew the liquor license of Club Malibu in Scotch Plains won’t be answered until sometime this spring.

On Tuesday night, the Township Council, acting in its capacity as local alcohol control board, heard lawyers on both sides of the matter question the first of a handful of witnesses for nearly three hours, setting the stage for what is likely to be a drawnout process.

Scotch Plains Police Sergeant James A. Cassidy, the local liquor control officer, testified in detail about the nearly 40 incidents of police calls to the Terrill Road nightclub during 1998, leading to the fatal shooting of a club patron just after midnight on Thanksgiving Day that year.

The establishment has been closed for about 14 months.

Rayric Inc., the new owners of the club, is seeking to have the liquor license, which expired last July 1, renewed by promising to revamp the management, crowd control and security and parking situation at Malibu.

On Tuesday night, Kenneth Lipstein, who served as Municipal Prosecutor last year and is handling this case for the township, led Sergeant Cassidy, a

10year veteran of the police force, through a recounting of each date in 1998 that the township police, sometimes with assistance from police from neighboring communities, were called to Club Malibu.

The calls were in response to a number of problems at the nightclub, including residents’ complaints about excessive noise, criminal mischief, theft, traffic and parking problems, fire safety checks, assaults, crowd control problems, disorderly conduct, distribution and possession of controlled dangerous substances, and fighting.

On a few occasions, the police were called to Malibu several times in the same evening.

Mr. Lipstein’s direct examination of Sergeant Cassidy ended with his description of the events that occurred at 12: 15 a. m. on November 27, 1998, when a dispute between two club patrons ended in gunfire that resulted in a man being killed and another being wounded.

Sergeant Cassidy, who was on desk duty that evening, said there were reports of a second individual being injured by gunshots, but that person was never located. He said all members of the Scotch Plains police force on duty that night responded to the incident, with assistance from the Plainfield,

Fanwood, Westfield and Union County police, as well.

Sergeant Cassidy said he had gone to the club earlier that evening and, finding the establishment filled to its 700person capacity, with an additional 200300 people in the parking lot, had asked Malibu’s management to do their best to make certain the situation did not get out of control.

Wrapping up his questioning of Sergeant Cassidy, Mr. Lipstein asked him if he, as liquor control officer, had any objection to renewing the club’s liquor license

“Yes, I do,” replied Sergeant Cassidy. Neil Cohen, the attorney for Rayric Inc., which lists only a Scotch Plains post office box address, then spent more than an hour revisiting each of the 40odd police calls and elicited from Sergeant Cassidy the fact that no charges or code violations had ever been filed against Club Malibu or its employees in connection with any of the incidents.

Mr. Cohen noted that the facility had operated in Scotch Plains for 39 years.

“There has never been a suspension, a revocation or a nonrenewal” of its liquor license, he noted, calling the establishment “an asset to the business community and an asset to Scotch Plains.”

Mr. Cohen also pointed out that there was no indication in the police records of the origin of the telephone calls complaining about the noise levels at the club.

He also noted that, with regard to incidents of fighting and drug possession

in the club’s parking lot, there was no record that any of the persons involved had been inside the club.

As for the fatal shooting, Sergeant Cassidy admitted to Mr. Cohen that the incident leading to the gunfire had begun on a portion of the club’s property that is, for tax purposes, a “paper street,” an unpaved and unused street that is technically owned by the township.

It was also noted that no charges were filed against the club after the shooting.

Sergeant Cassidy also said no steps were taken to suspend or revoke their operations in the wake of the incident.

Scotch Plains Mayor Martin L. Marks, who, along with the four other members of the council, will eventually decide whether to renew Club Malibu’s liquor license, ended the evening’s proceedings after three hours, with Sergeant Cassidy still in the midst of his crossexamination by Mr. Cohen and Mr. Lipstein and the council yet to ask their own questions.

Several local residents, as well as Scotch Plains Fire Chief Jonathan Ellis, will also be called to testify by Mr. Lipstein, and Mr. Cohen will likely call the new owners and management of Club Malibu to testify in an effort to bolster their case.

The date of the next hearing was unable to be set late Tuesday night, but the earliest possible date for a resumption of the sessions appears to be the week of March 20.

Cheri Rogosky for The Westfield Leader SPRING HAS SPRUNG… Drew Miller, 14, a student at Scotch PlainsFanwood High School showed off his skateboarding skills on North Avenue in downtown Westfield, proving that the recent warmer weather is ushering in a pleasant spring.

parking structure. The consultants worked closely with the Parking Steering Committee, which includes Mayor Jardim, First Ward Councilman Carl A. Salisbury, Chairman of the council’s Transportation, Parking and Traffic Committee; Second Ward Councilman James J. Gruba, Finance Committee Chairman; Mr. LaPlace; Town Engineer Kenneth B. Marsh and Planning Board Chairman Martin Robins.

As part of its analysis, Rich and Associates created a parking demand model that took into consideration the impact of the train station, redevelopment opportunities downtown and the new parking demands created by that redevelopment.

Of the six sites considered (a seventh was added very recently), each was evaluated for the following: effects of light and noise, perception of safety, vehicle ingress and egress and the overall impact on the neighborhood. All six sites are townowned lots.

The South Avenue commuter lot, known as Site 3A in the proposal, was identified as the best location for a parking structure because it could provide the needed number of spaces and allowed for future expansion.

Should a second parking structure be required downtown, Rich and Associates also identified a next best location — the lot which runs parallel to Prospect Street. The recommendation requires acquisition of the Trader Joe’s lot to make the structure work in terms of capacity and for practical purposes.

According to Mr. Rich, the next two critical steps in bringing the parking deck to fruition are addressing traffic concerns on South Avenue (particularly peak egress

problems) related to the proposed parking deck, and defining what the structure should look like.

“I can’t imagine allowing free flow onto South (Avenue) without some kind of control,” stated Mr. Rich. He also suggested the traffic signal at Summit and South Avenues as a means of ingress/ egress control.

To develop a look for the parking deck, Rich and Associates would use “Interactive Planning and Design” sessions with the public. The firm was scheduled to present some design ideas at the public meeting of the town council last evening.

Consultant Recommends MultiTiered Deck for Town

Proposal to Reconfigure Schools OK’d By BOE


Specially Written for The Westfield Leader

SCOTCH PLAINS -On February 28, the Board of Education voted 63 to approve the recommendation to reconfigure Scotch PlainsFanwood Public Schools to K4 elementary schools and 58 middle schools, beginning in September 2002. A motion to table the decision was defeated prior to the final rollcall vote.

Board members Jean McAllister, Thomas Russo and Edward J. Saridaki, Jr., who all voted to table the motion, also voted against the recommendation.

The plan was supported by Board President Theresa Larkin, Vice President Dr. Donald E. Sheldon, Richard R. Meade, Lance Porter, August Ruggiero and Jessica D. Simpson.

As the reconfiguration will move an estimated 418 fifthgrade students (the current second graders) up into the middle schools, the plan requires construction of 12 new classrooms and a multipurpose room at Terrill Middle School to make its size and core facilities comparable to those at Park Middle School.

The plan calls for the addition of two new classrooms to Coles Elementary School. It makes no changes to current attendance areas, with certain exceptions.

Beginning in September 2000, new families who begin residing in the Bayberry Apartments and Southwyck Condominiums must register their elementary grade students at Brunner Elementary School and middle school students at Park School.

Also beginning September 2000, new families who begin residing on Hunter Avenue north of Front Street and south of Mountain Avenue; on Willow Avenue north of Front Street and south of Mountain Avenue; and Myrtle Avenue north of Front Street and south of Mountain Avenue must register elementary students at Coles and middle school students at Terrill.

According to the plan, “The elementary and middle school attendance areas for students moving into new developments built after February 2000, will be determined based on space availability in the schools.”

In addition, beginning September 2002, one section of the Pervasive Developmental Disorders (PDD) program will be relocated from School One to McGinn School, and the Title I program from Brunner will be relocated to School One.

The plan states there will be no reduction in instructional minutes for core curriculum subjects for fifth grade students. It also states the district will convene staff and community committees to discuss and plan specific elements of the new 58 middle school program, including academics, cocurricular activities, socialization issues and other areas.

Under the proposed fifth grade instructional program, students pick up an additional 150 minutes per week of instructional time because they no longer have 30 minutes of recess following 30 minutes of lunch time. They simply have a 30minute lunch break.

Dr. Choye emphasized the additional demands created by the state’s core curriculum mandates which have “grown to include elementary world language; broader definitions of language arts, including reading, writing, listening/ speaking; and fine arts, including performance and appreciation of art and music, as well as theater arts and dance.”

The 1,950 weekly minutes of the fifth grade sample program breaks down as follows: 1,300 minutes for mathematics, science, reading/ language arts and social studies (taught in selfcontained classrooms) 102 minutes for additional language arts instruction (theater arts/ public speaking, info tech/ writing 378 minutes in instruction in art, music, physical education (PE), world languages, information technology and theater arts.

Under the sample program, children would have three 48minute PE classes each week (inclusive of D. A. R. E. and Health), and two 48minute world language classes per week. Band and chorus would be elective classes. If students

choose not to participate in band or chorus, they would participate in a projectbased learning program commensurate with their academic ability.

Students would rotate through art, music performance/ appreciation, theater arts/ public speaking and info tech/ writing courses by marking period.

The board’s vote on the facilities issue came two and a half hours into Monday’s meeting, following impassioned comments both for and against the proposal from the public. Strong sentiment was characteristic of the public comments voiced at each of the facilities’ meetings and in the deluge of correspondence to the board over the past two months.

There were those who believed the facilities’ decision was a wellconceived, thoroughly dissected plan 10 years in the making. Others continued to chastise the administration for not thoroughly exploring every option, and changing figures without satisfactory explanations. (For example, capacities were upped at Coles, Park and Terrill following an administrative walkthrough of each building.)

“We adjusted capacity (according) to what actually can be used as classrooms... it was a revision based on the real situation,” explained Dr. Carol B. Choye, Superintendent of Schools.

There were parents who wanted specifics regarding traffic management, parking problems and the dropoff and pickup of their children. Others cited the two plus years available to administrators to work out the details of those and other aspects of the program.

Mr. Russo, Mr. Saridaki and Mrs. McAllister, along with some members of the public, believed more comprehensive information and explanation were needed before a decision could be made.

However, parent Mary Cappio summed up the opinion of the rest of the board and other members of the public when she said, “The time for information gathering is over... we need a decision.”

That decision, now official, is the first step in the process of making the new grade structure a reality come the 20022003 school year. The scope of the new program, as well as the need to upgrade and enhance existing facilities, necessitates the district going out for a bond referendum to pay for the work that needs to be done.

Before the district can go ahead with a bond referendum, however, all construction/ renovations plans must be approved by the state. With board approval in hand, the administration can now proceed to hire an architect to draw up such plans. The state review process is expected to take four to six months.

The bond referendum recommended during the February 28 board meeting totals $16,937,380. It includes construction costs for the facilities recommendation, renovations to seven of the district’s eight schools, technology enhancements and improvements associated with ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliance.

As mentioned in an earlier report, cost figures used in the referendum recommendation are estimates based on the report prepared by The Thomas Group of Princeton, a consultant hired to assess the district’s facilities.

In a telephone interview after the meeting, Business Administrator and Board Secretary Anthony DelSordi explained, “The whole issue of the bond referendum is something the board will be reviewing. This is a preliminary plan, subject to review and refinement as we move forward.”

According to the timetable laid out by the superintendent, the board would vote on the bond referendum in May.

On the subject of the bond, Mr. Meade cautioned those people who opposed the idea of moving the fifth grade into the middle school to consider the implications of their decision not to support the eventual bond referendum.

“When it comes to the bond, which is the better decision for your kids?” he asked. “Don’t look at it (bond) as if you wish it were a different plan.”

The referendum will likely be put to a public vote in October 2000.

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An entire room filled with

BOYDS Bears & Friends ™

(Between New Dover Road & Park Avenue) • Flags • Angels • Candles • Collectibles • Unique Gifts • Country Decor • Victorian Decor • Country Food & Candy

Mon. – Sat. 10 to 6 • Sundays 11 to 4

10% OFF

Any Purchase

with this coupon can’t be combined w/ any other offer

Something for Everyone

This is Westfield

28th Annual Edition

Coming April 13, 2000 Details (908) 2324407
Copyright 2000 - The Westfield Leader and The Times of Scotch Plains-Fanwood
Covering Fanwood, Mountainside, Scotch Plains and Westfield, Union County, New Jersey (NJ)