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Thirdly, as a society we are placing far more pressure on our teachers to ensure that every student in his/her class receives an equal amount of time and therefore achieves a similar educational standard.
Years ago, the teachers taught and you kept up or not, as the case may be, so those who could succeed and those who could not fell by the wayside.
This is fine if you believe in an elitist education system where children are streamlined, according to their intelligence standards, at age 11 as is done in Europe, however, I believe this to go against everything America stands for.
In summary, the above calls for extra classrooms for children of special needs. It calls for the need to introduce computer workstations in existing classrooms thereby reducing the number of students a room will take. It calls for language labs to be built in order to provide for the teaching of foreign languages.
And finally, it reduces the number of children in a classroom that any teacher can reasonably be expected to educate under our society’s demand for equal time and education for all.
On a broader scale, one must also look to the future in order to determine the ongoing need for such facilities so that the expense of building them is not wasted on a community where the need is only immediate and not long-term.
Yes, there are the demographic studies to prove that even today’s overcrowding will only be magnified in the future, but I believe many people will want to know why there is a growing population and the effect this will have upon their community.
Westfield is a wonderful community and one in which I believe we are all happy to live. Its services work, there is a solid community spirit, it has a homely downtown area and provides many beautiful recreational areas for its inhabitants to enjoy.
Furthermore, and more importantly for this argument, it has one of the finest school districts in the state. Although combined with many of the aforementioned attributes, it is mainly the success of Westfield’s school district that attracts many families with school age children (or children approaching school age, or families approaching having children) to opt to become part of Westfield’s community.
We have all seen many new developments being built in town over the last five years to accommodate the influx of new residents. Although we may or may not agree with this building spate, demographic studies have shown that families with school age children occupy most of these new homes.
It is no secret that Westfield has become the target for many upscale and modern retail businesses. We only have to walk through town to see Gap, Gap for Kids, Banana Republic and Anne Taylor, all of whom opened their stores based upon positive demographic studies.
We are to assume therefore that these mavens of retailing foresee an increase in the number of local residents that suit their demographic requirements as “ideal customers,” in the main, young upwardly mobile families with double incomes and two kids. Yes this may be a stereotype but it is one we will have
to live with. In summary, these demographic trends could result in the current enrollment calculations showing current and future overcrowding, being too low.
There is, however, a positive effect of this phenomenon on our town and one that we may all benefit from, and that is the increase in value of our real estate. Let me be blunt in saying that real estate values are a function of supply and demand: the more people there are wanting to live in a particular town, the more expensive the real estate becomes.
There are national studies proving that there is a direct correlation between the success of an education system and the value of the real estate within its boundaries.
Therefore, to let the classrooms become overcrowded, to ignore the need for technology and linguistic classes, and to increase the pressure on our teachers will all result in a decrease in educational standards, a change in the town’s demographic makeup and a resultant decrease in property values.
Unfortunately, the people who will be effected most by a drop in real estate values will be our senior citizens which I believe to be unfair and unjust.
I am sure we all want to provide our children with the basic necessities they will need to succeed in life. That is the best education we can provide, a sense of what is right and wrong, plus a set of good moral values which, in turn, we hope will allow them to become good people in doing unto others as they would want done unto themselves.
Maybe we should all stop for a moment and think about the message we are sending by turning down an opportunity for them to receive a better chance at education because as working adults we are too wrapped up in our own “yield to me” frame of mind.
Finally, we must address the issue of an increase in taxes. Even though the average Westfield home would have their taxes increased by as little as $55 per year, this may be a consideration for some of our senior citizens.
The community as a whole will have to decide if agreeing to this increase is worth not only the future education of our children, but the protection our property values and the very basis of the core of our community. With this in mind, we must not forget our senior citizens as they may require the same amount of focus that this community is currently giving its children.
Accordingly, I herein offer to start a Citizens Advice Committee to focus on their needs, as, after all, we should do things that make a difference to everyone.
* * * * *
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mr. Williams is an eight-year Westfield resident has two children one of which is first-grader in the local system. Mr. Williams served on the Citizens’ Advisory Committee to the Westfield Board of Education which recommended the $11.7 million bond referendum for capital improvements, new classrooms and technology improvements. Mr. Williams is the Founder, President and Chief Executive officer of New York City based-Strategic Research Institute, a large market research company.
be placed on the middle and high schools where the 2003 enrollments are projected to be 21.6 percent and 24.7 percent higher than the 1998 enrollments compared to an elementary school increase of just 7.6 percent from 1998 to 2003.
Dr. Weissman’s position that our elementary school enrollments are a temporary problem is consistent with the current thinking in professional demographics circles as reported in the American Demographics Journal and supported by data from the U.S. Bureau of the Census and Department of Education in their projections of elementary school enrollments through 2007.
While expensive, many taxpayers and parents might vote for the $6 million
improvement and $0.8 million alteration portions of the bond and against the $4.5 million for questionable new classrooms, that is, if we were given the choice.
However, given the “all or none” packaging, the only way to communicate our preference to the board is to vote down the referendum and to send the Superintendent and board back to the drawing board to come up with alternative proposals.
Westfield should vote “no” in December knowing full well that this is not a one shot, do or die proposition. If a majority of the voters reject the “all or none” bond package, then the board and Administration will find other ways to “house a temporary bulge passing through the schools.”
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Fixing Short-Term Enrollment Hike With Long-Term Bond: Wrong in 1994, Worse in 1998
CELLULAR SIGNAL 3X6 ET PETERSEN
2X4½ AUNT VALS 2X4 CDC
Letters to the Editor
Westfield Schools Are In Desperate Need of Repair; Vote Yes on Bond
If your roof was leaking you’d fix it wouldn’t you? If your bathroom facilities needed repair, it would be a top priority, right? Well your roof is leaking, and the bathrooms do need repair.
No, they’re not in your home, they are in your schools, the Westfield schools, and to protect your investment in your own home, all Westfielders should vote in favor of the upcoming bond issue to repair school facilities on Tuesday, December 15.
Our schools are one of the investments that makes your Westfield home so valuable. Think, for a moment, of who buys that home on your street with the “For Sale” sign on it.
Overwhelmingly, Westfield homes are purchased by families with young children, or plans to raise children. They choose Westfield, in large part, for the same reason my family did: its excellent public schools.
And it is because of those choice schools that a home in Westfield commands a premium in the resale market that families won’t pay in surrounding communities.
If the school roof leaks, if the school’s physical plant is unsafe or unhealthy, young families will think long and hard about choosing Westfield as a place to raise their kids.
Yes, the bond issue will result in a small increase in property taxes phased in from $18 to a maximum of $56 annually on a home with the Westfield average assessed value of $174,000. Think of that total increase as the cost of a minor repair around your house each year should you ever sell your home, it will be repaid 20 times over.
I urge all Westfielders to vote for the school bond issue on December 15.
Meryl Justin Chertoff Westfield
United Fund of Westfield Wishes ‘Happy Thanksgiving’ to Residents
Thanksgiving is a distinctively American holiday, set aside for giving thanks for the blessings of health, food, shelter, family, friends and community.
During the Thanksgiving season, many Westfielders, who recognize how much they have to be grateful for, say “thank you” by giving to the United Fund of Westfield, which helps maintain the quality of life for all in our community.
We are grateful to all who have generously responded to the 1998 United Fund campaign, and we urge all who have not yet sent in a pledge card to do so now, as a sign of “thanksgiving.” By sharing their blessings, Westfielders can extend the spirit of Thanksgiving throughout the coming year.
A past edition of the “Friendly Place,” a newsletter for Westfield Community Center Senior Citizens (one of the 20 member agencies supported by our United Fund), contained the following inspirational message which we would like to share again this year:
“Even though I clutch my blanket and growl when the alarm rings each morning, thank you, Lord, that I can hear. There are those who are deaf.
Even though I keep my eyes tightly closed against the morning light as long as possible, thank you, Lord, that I can see. There are many who are blind.
Even though I huddle in my bed and put off the effort of rising, thank you, Lord, that I have the strength to rise. There are many who are bed-ridden.
Even though the first hour of my day is hectic, when socks are lost, toast is burned, tempers are short, thank you, Lord, for my family. There are many who are lonely.
Even though our breakfast table never looks like the pictures in the magazines, and the menu is at times unbalanced, thank you, Lord, for the food we have.
There are many who are hungry. Even though the routine of my job is often monotonous, thank you, Lord, for the opportunity to work. There are many who have no job.
Even though I grumble and bemoan my fate from day to day, and wish my circumstances were not so modest, thank you, Lord, for the gift of life.”
On behalf of all of us at the United Fund of Westfield, let me wish everyone a most happy Thanksgiving season.
Alan J. Gutterman President, Board of Trustees
United Fund of Westfield Robert Flast Column Labeled ‘Utter Nonsense’ by Resident
Westfield is a town that we are all happy and proud to live in. A part of that is due to Westfield’s excellent school system, that many people move here for.
In response to Mr. Flast’s article, it is written, I’m sure, without one of his children attending any Westfield school. While I’m not active in any board meetings or Parent-Teacher Association meetings, I am very moved to respond to his utter nonsense.
Maybe he should spend a day at Franklin School, in a classroom made for 14-18 students. Those classrooms now hold 24-25 students. There is barely any room for these children to move, yet alone learn what they could learn in a class size of 15 (which, by the way, is my idea of a classroom size).
Maybe he should experience an “art cart” being rolled into his classroom, or no lunch room available for 1-3 graders. We also have no music room and two trailers set up outside our school.
Get real Mr. Flast, you need to see it, before you can report on it. Maybe you
should just stick to your computers. Westfield, this bond has to pass to keep our town and our children the best they can be.
Overcrowded Classrooms, Enrollment Crunch Increase Need for Referendum
On Tuesday, December 15, Westfield will be asked to vote on a school bond referendum. Voting yes on this referendum will be an affirmative vote for excellence in education for the entire Westfield community.
Currently, there is no additional classroom space available in any of our elementary schools. Overcrowded classrooms in some of our buildings coupled with still ever increasing enrollment necessitate that we build additional elementary classrooms.
As this increasing enrollment filters to our middle schools, the opportunity will exist to move elementary school programs currently housed in our middle schools back to the elementary schools.
If any additional movement of students is needed at this level, the Citi
zens Advisory Committee recommended that the relocation be evaluated by a group of concerned citizens.
Fifty percent of the bond referendum will go toward capital improvements in all of our schools that we have not been able to address in our regular budget. Renovation of six classrooms at the high school level will help to address the increasing enrollment at that level. Use of the National Guard Armory and the former Lincoln School will also be considered as the increasing enrollment filters to Westfield High School.
And last, but not least, the bond referendum will provide for a technological infrastructure that is desperately needed between all of our schools.
This will significantly improve communication among schools, parents and administration and will also enhance school curriculum.
It is my hope that the Westfield community will cast an affirmative vote on December 15 both for the bond referendum and for our children.
Sheri Cognetti Edison Intermediate School
More Columns On Page 7
Letters to the Editor
Bond Approval Will Help Repair Schools While Accommodating
Student Enrollment Increase