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School Members Have Wide Range of Responsibilities to Address

Last week voters went to the election polls at which they supported the school spending plans inWestfield and ScotchPlains-Fanwood as well as making their selections known for the local school boards.

Westfield voters, who supported both parts of the $44 million school tax levy (representing an increase of 2.45 percent over last year), voted incumbent Dr. B. Carol Molnar to a fourth term along with former board member Thomas Taylor and newcomer Michael Kessler.

In Scotch Plains-Fanwood voters supported the $36.94 million school tax levy (which calls for tax increase of 1.64 percent in Scotch Plains and 2.47 percent in Fanwood) while electing incumbents Theresa Larkin and August A. Ruggiero along with newcomer Thomas Russo.

We congratulate the winning candidates and wish them well over the next three years. With the constant changes regarding school funding and the importance of keeping property taxes under control, this is definitely one of the most difficult periods of time to serve on local school boards.

The Westfield and Scotch Plains-Fanwood districts differ in the way they operate in that the Westfield school board has seven standing committees while Scotch Plains-Fanwood operates under the Committee-As-A-Whole system.

At theWestfield organizational meetings, school board members will be assigned to the board committees which include Budget and Finance, Policies, Negotiations, Long Range Planning, and Curriculum, Instruction and Programs and the Liaison Committee with the Town Council.

Scotch Plains-Fanwood has two subcommittees of its Committee-As-A-Whole: Negotiations and Policies. The former includes a separate committee for bargaining with each employee unit. These committees are necessary since they are less than a majority of the board and thus do not require the board to sunshine the meeting for public participation.

Since these committees deal with personnel information, the committees need to work in private before reporting their findings to the full board for action.

Under the area of finance, the Committee-As-A-Whole and the Westfield school board Finance Committee work with their administrations in preparing the annual school budget as well as overseeing business, planning and budgeting during the year. Negotiations committees represent the boards during contract negotiations with employee bargaining groups.

Under Long Range Planning, the board members are charged with updating and developing the district's long range plan as it applies to the district's goals and objectives. The Curriculum, Instruction and Programs Committee of the Westfield school board is responsible for reviewing new curricular offerings as well as existing classes, reviewing the professional development of the board and staff.

In Scotch-Plains-Fanwood, the full school board receives regular reports on instructional and curriculum policies from the administration. Under the area of facilities, board members review the condition of the district's facilities, security issues, and community use of school buildings.

The Westfield board and Staff Relations Committee reviews grievances brought by any employee group, and meets with professional staff members to discuss issues.

This review of school board committees and Committee-As-A-Whole shows just some of the important responsibilities school board members are entrusted with throughout the year.

Voters did their part by approving what we believe are sensible school tax levies. Now it is up to the boards to provide the leadership necessary to ensure students are well prepared to enter the next millennium.

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TheWestfield Leader.
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