Some residents have questioned why the September 24 School Bond Referendum to support new roofs and a turf field is one question on the ballot. First, let me explain that this is not unusual. Four out of the last six bond referendum elections in the Westfield schools have been for multiple projects under ONE QUESTION. On September 24, the Princeton Public Schools are holding a bond referendum election with ONE QUESTION, which also includes multiple facilities projects (roofing and turf as well). In my research I have found many districts in New Jersey that have one question on their bond referendum and it includes fields and other facility projects. But that is not the driving factor for one question in Westfield. Both projects have been facility priorities for years. They cannot be supported in a 2% capped operating budget, we have tried to find alternative funding, but both roofs and fields still need to be replaced. The problem does not go away if we do nothing.
It is great news that our enrollment is up, that we have an increase of 31% athletic participation. We are a thriving district and we should be doing everything that we can to provide a safe physical environment, both in the schools and on the fields.
Both of our projects are important. This has been stressed time and again in our meetings and reported on our website. Seventy-seven percent of our roofs have outlived their life expectancy, and our fields cannot support our growing number of students and student athletes. A lighted multi-use turf “weatherproof” field that is on our High School field will serve all 1,800 Physical Education students now and the thousands of students to follow for years to come. We have only one regulation size turf field now – at Kehler Stadium. The Westfield High School field is larger than Kehler and can accommodate more sports, including softball. Having two regulation size turf fields (Kehler and WHS) will provide the capacity needed and the quality and safety that we see in many other towns .
As a 6-year member of the Board of Education, a 6-year member of the facilities committee, (2 years as chairperson), a 27-year Westfield resident, a mother of 7, (5 Westfield graduates), and an Early Childhood Educator, I feel that I have carefully and thoughtfully made decisions on the Board of Education that are in the best interest of all the children in our district. Not only is that my job, it is a responsibility that I take very seriously.
It is impossible to provide a summary here of all the Board Facilities meetings that have taken place since 2009 on the topics of the roofs and fields. After years of preparation and discussion, the Board has continued to spend many more months meeting and addressing questions and concerns at each public meeting. I urge you all to seek out the facts regarding the bond referendum vote on Monday, September 24, and visit our school website at www.westfieldnjk12.org/bond2012,where you will find the FAQ’s, presentations and additional bond information.
Westfield Board of Education