Westfield School Committee discusses policies and potential end to school year

March 24, 2020 | Dennis Hackett

WESTFIELD – The Westfield School Committee met for a regularly scheduled meeting on March 16 to discuss the Student Opportunity Act Plan, review policies and next steps in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak.

The first order of business at the meeting was to accept the Student Opportunity Act which is due on April 1. Superintendent of Schools Stefan Czaporowski recapped some of the different parts of the plan and said, “We’re looking to hire an additional behaviorist to assist in modifying some social emotional concerns that we have with some students to help them be more successful. With the limited funding we’re getting, we’re trying to do a lot.”

The School Committee unanimously approved the motion to accept the Student Opportunity Act plan.

The School Committee also discussed the Contract Settlement with the Westfield Education Association. Committee Member Diane Mayhew said she was happy with the way the discussions went this year. She said, “It was very well handled and both sides had a lot of respect for each other. It was the quickest negotiations I’ve had with a unit and I think at the end of the day we all did a good job.”

The School Committee then unanimously voted to accept the contract with the Westfield Education Association.

During his regular report, Czaporowski discussed the ways that the district had reached out to families about the closure of schools until April 7. He explained that some students had been sent home with blizzard bags of schoolwork while other students can access them online.

“These are enrichment activities that will not be graded. It is to help continue education at home with families and they will not count to the report grade,” he said.
He added that teachers in the district have been willing to help out in any way they can,” he said. “I probably have 80 emails in my inbox from staff offering to help, whether it’s to distribute lunches or anything. Everyone is trying to get involved.”

Czaporowski also said that he had reached out to state Rep. John Velis about waiving the MCAS this year. “I think it would be an unfair burden to put on our districts and students, we will have missed four to five weeks. I think it’s the right thing to do for our students and our staff at this time,” he said.

Czaporowski thanked the district’s staff and community for their work during this time of crisis and reminded anyone watching that lunch is available from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Abner Gibbs and Franklin Avenue schools. He said, “This is an unprecedented time in history, this could not be a better place to live and work the support has been incredible, whatever the task people have risen to it and it’s been amazing.”

He also said the he is operating with the potential that school might not return this year. “I want to be realistic, earlier today we had talks about ending Term 3 right now. We are planning with the possibility that we may not return this school year,” he said.

During the meeting the School Committee quickly went through the first readings of two policies for revision including the LA Education Agency Relations goals and Anti-Discrimination and Anti-Harassment policies.

After the two first readings, the Committee then went through the final readings for three policies including the Promotion and Retention of Students, Student Publications, and Field Trip policies. The Committee quickly approved all three policies.

The Westfield School Committee will next meet on April 6.

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