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WACS board introduces latest faculty additions

September 8, 2016
Westfield Republican

By David Prenatt

Members of the Westfield Academy and Central School Board of Education were introduced to new faculty members RaeKel Matos and Karen Swank at their regular meeting Aug. 22.

Article Photos

Photo by David Prenatt
RaeKel Mastos, left, and Karen Swank will join the WACS elementary faculty this year.

Matos, who teaches computers, and Swank, who teaches fourth grade, were chosen from 49 applicants for these positions, according to elementary principal Dr. Mary Rockey. This number was reduced to 14 candidates who were called in for the first round of interviews, she said.

Eight of these were recalled for a second round of interviews, Rockey said. In this interview, the applicants not only had to address a committee of teachers and staff, but were required to create and teach a level one math lesson to 27 WACS students who were present, she said.

"I feel we are very lucky to have these two teachers. They know the Westfield way," Rockey said. "I can tell they are highly engaging educators who will allow our students to move forward."

Board members also received an update from facilities director Lou Golando regarding the progress of the district's capital project. Although school is slated to begin on Sept. 7 and the hallways are still cluttered with construction materials such as sinks, toilets, flooring and wood, Golando said the building would be ready by the time students return to class.

"We're moving forward," Golando said. "We're on target. We're going to be close. We should be in good shape to start school."

Golando reported that work on the lighting and the restrooms should be finished soon. Also the final three rooms scheduled for asbestos abatement were expected to be finished by Wednesday, Aug. 24, he said.

The only aspects of the project that might not be finished by the start of school would be new flooring in some of the rooms and some odds and ends, Golando said. These would be completed during school breaks, he added.

"We're working to get all of the major work done, so that any work not done by the time school starts will be minor," Golando said.

In other business, the district's new internal auditor, Nancy Jopek, spoke to board members about her role in the school's financial operation.

Jopek said her main focus was in accounts payable, and in making sure that the proper protocols were being followed. This includes evaluating expenditures, certifying warrants, working through contracts and examining district policies, she said. She is also responsible to review purchase orders, invoices, expenses for travel and sequence numbers, she said.

"Once all information is reviewed, I report it back to the board," Jopek said. "I am looking to make sure that all the I's are dotted and the T's are crossed before the check leaves the building," she said.

WACS superintendent David Davison commended the thoroughness of Jopek's work. "Nancy is doing a wonderful job. She is a very detail-oriented person," he said.

Davison also reported to the board about new state safety plan requirements, which have reversed the exemption that had been available to single-building districts. "The statutes are going the other way for single-building safety plans. They did away with the option," he said.

Davison said the safety committee would meet the following week to take the district's current plan and revise it to meet the state requirements. The new plan will be sent to the state department of education on Sept. 1, and will be posted on the district website, he said. It will be ready for tentative adoption at the board's Sept. 12 meeting,

Davison also talked about the situation with the state assessment testing. He said that, despite numerous changes to the testing, about one in five students throughout the state have opted not to take the test.

"They (NYSED officials) thought the changes would reduce the number of students who refuse to take the tests, but this was not so," Davison said.

Unfortunately, Davison said, when a large number of students do not take the test, it has a great impact on the district. "It robs the students, parents and the district of valuable data to support instructional modifications," he said.

Board members also regretfully accepted the resignation o sixth-grade teacher Ashley DeJohn, effective Aug. 23. DeJohn brought many innovative programs to WACS, such as the Oscar Night, at which students received awards for movie trailers they created based on books they had read.



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