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Letter: Clancy: 'Both Projects Are Important'

Facilities chair says it is not unusual to have multiple projects in one bond referendum.

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. 

Jane Clancy

Westfield Board of Education

Facilities Chairperson

 

Westfield Parent September 22, 2012 at 12:01 AM
Mrs. Jane Clancy, could you explain why we are not putting lights at Kehler Stadium instead, with the existing artificial field? Wouldn't that be the most logical, the most economical, and the most sensible thing to do?
Rich Mattessich September 22, 2012 at 01:20 AM
This question has been asked as a comment many times now – probably by the same person. More importantly, it has been answered many times now – by the same Board of Education. Please take some time to go back and look at the public responses. One obvious example is that the proposed field has two softball diamonds. This will allow the high school, middle school and others who play softball to have more playable field time during poor weather and at night. This is but ONE example. Moving the lights to Kehler is therefore not more logical, although if you believe lights are a problem, your suggestion effectively moves what you perceive to be a problem to another neighborhood. The cost per pole is presumably the same, although you simply state a conclusion that Kehler is more economical without providing a basis. Importantly, we are not proposing a field at the high school just to have lights – we are proposing a holistic solution to add capacity. And whether the lights at the high school are sensible is up to the voter – plain and simple. The Board of Education proposed a turf field to add capacity – lighting adds significant capacity. I would ask all voters to be informed and vote on facts – not distractions -- if you vote based on facts, no one can object to how you vote. Rich Mattessich, President, Board of Education
NR9 September 22, 2012 at 02:42 AM
Ms. Clancy wrote: “Some residents have questioned why the School Bond Referendum to support new roofs and a turf field is one question on the ballot.” She proceeds to point out that 4 out of the last 6 bond referendum elections in the Westfield schools have been for multiple projects under one question. She proceeds to point out that another school district, Princeton NJ, is also about to hold a bond referendum election with one question that groups multiple projects. But she has NOT explained why THIS referendum for WESTFIELD, set to take place this Monday, has grouped TWO projects into one question on the ballot- one deemed a necessity and one deemed a luxury (to many, but not all). Take another read of Ms. Clancy’s text above. It begins by saying it will explain why the TWO projects were grouped into ONE referendum… but it never actually does explain that at all. If the people of Westfield want both projects done (and it seems nearly everyone is in favor of roofs but the opinions are pretty mixed on the turf field), then these questions should be asked of voters separately! Then, based on poll results, the financing could be done for a big bond or a bigger bond, depending on what the people want. The BOE has insulted Westfield’s citizens by bundling the two issues into one vote.
Just Looking For The Truth September 22, 2012 at 03:27 AM
Has it been made clear by the Board of Education, and I JUST found this out, that if this bond does not pass on Monday, September 24th, which it shoudn't based on its merits, that the Board of Education can unbundle the bond and put the roof bond back out for vote as soon as November 6th - the general election? I'm guessing it hasn't been made clear, because very little has about this vote!
Time For Change September 22, 2012 at 12:57 PM
You shouldn't be allowed to use the name, just looking for the truth. If you were, you would not make such a ridiculous statement. Everything is CLEAR, whether you vote in favor or not. You just can't, or don't want to, synthesize all of the data. If the bond fails, can be separated during another vote but not likely until after the general election. The public has been told that there are only a few dates, as determined by the state, when a bond can go on the ballot. So, anytime, you want to get educated, you can open your eyes and make an informed decision, not only clouded by your personal agenda.
wanting to smack time for change September 22, 2012 at 02:55 PM
Time for change is a troll!!!!!
Time For Change September 22, 2012 at 03:12 PM
If you define "troll" as someone who just wants the facts out there, then guilty as charged. The people on this board who claim to know what they are talking about is comical. You have people asking questions that have been asked and answered by the BOE and other interested parties. Hey, if you don't want to vote for the bond, that's ok, but do it because you have researched the issues and you genuinely believe that it's bad for the schools. Don't vote NO because you are ignorant.
wanting to smack time for change September 22, 2012 at 03:38 PM
It just seems that all you do is sit there waiting for someone to post something that you do not agree with. Do you even live near the school or are you one of the folks that live on the other side of town that get all the perks. Like snow plowing street sweeping qiuet. I dont know about you but I am a little sick of having to deal with the noise and the litter that these priveliged little brats leave on my door step. On many occasions I've have to tell them to clean up after them selves it's digusting. Plus I dont see how a new field is going to help a crappy team. They should invest some of that money on some talented coaches. A field doesnt make a team a team does. Stop looking at the other towns and fix the crappy coaching staff.
Time For Change September 22, 2012 at 03:52 PM
You see, my points made for me. You can't even talk about the bond, you start talking about the coaches. You are so jaded, maybe just time for you to pack up and leave because no rational comments will make you feel better. You are a bitter person and I pity you.
wanting to smack time for change September 22, 2012 at 04:09 PM
I can talk about the bond.. It makes no sense why we have to vote down the roofs our kids need them and yes I say ours because my kids go to the schools. I dont mind if they gave us a choice but to underhadedly attach a want to a need is wrong.
wanting to smack time for change September 22, 2012 at 04:12 PM
And Stop wanting what other towns have. Be an individual. A field doesnt make a team a team does. ASS CLOWN!!!!
Time For Change September 22, 2012 at 04:27 PM
thanks for making me laugh! Who said anything about wanting what other towns have? You are the one who brought that up or did you forget that through your self pity?
wanting to smack time for change September 22, 2012 at 04:32 PM
So what is you intrest in this ball field? You seem so passionate ablut having one or rather another one. Is it a financial benefit?
South-side resident September 22, 2012 at 04:48 PM
I'm guessing the point Westfield Parent is trying to make is that perhaps the reason that lights were never formally pursued at Kehler is, at least partially, because residents in the area so vigorously protested the idea. So, why would anyone expect residents near the high school to feel any differently? I find Mr. Mattessich's comment, "And whether the lights at the high school are sensible is up to the voter", to be extremely puzzling. I would think that if the BOE truly held that viewpoint, it would not have taken the choice AWAY from the voter by bundling the turf field with the roofs, a necessity that obviously most people would support. Thus placing voters in a very unattractive "all or nothing" situation.
South-side resident September 22, 2012 at 04:58 PM
Re Ms. Clancy's letter -- the fact that multiple projects have been bundled into one question in the past is not relevant to the current situation. If memory serves me correctly, the last time this happened, the projects were reasonable necessities of equivalent value bundled together, such as installing new windows at Edison and improving the cafeteria and library at Roosevelt. I don't believe most people would argue that those items were equally worthy of attention. This case is completely different -- the items being bundled together are very far apart on the "necessity scale". I don't live near the field, and I do have kids that play sports, and I just don't think it's a necessary expenditure. If more than 50% of voters believe it is, it would pass on it's own merits. I'm sure Ms. Clancy is correct in that doing nothing will not solve the problem with field maintenance. However, doing "something" does not translate into converting a grass field into turf. It could also mean maintaining the existing grass field. As another writer pointed out, the tens of thousands of dollars that we would spend EVERY YEAR on INTEREST ALONE for the $3.3 million bond could buy a lot of grass seed and fertilizer.
Time For Change September 22, 2012 at 05:03 PM
Somehow you have the impression that the ball field is all that we have been talking about. Maybe that is your issue, for you it is all about the field. My interest lies solely in people making an informed decision about the benefits of the roofs and the fields. The people like you argue against either because of your personal issues with kids near your home, are so short sighted. Sure, there are good and and bad parts of the bond, but when you look at what we get when done, it adds a huge benefit to the entire community, not just your little world.
wanting to smack time for change September 22, 2012 at 05:28 PM
I am informed on the issues. And I agree that the roofs need to be reapired for solar panels that will not only benefit the schools but our enviroment. But the lighted field? Please inform me on how this beneifits our community?
Time For Change September 22, 2012 at 05:43 PM
of course there are some negatives- might add some noise and some traffic in certain periods of time but it all can be managed. There have been tons of conversations as reported on the patch and from my friends who have been to meetings, to hear what local residents have to say about ways to improve the situation. The residents only say "you are not listening"! Many are listening, but if the BOE does not do what they want, the residents say they don't listen. Hey, we voted this people in, like any politician, to represent us. If you don't like the job they do, do not re-elect them. Lets see how many other people (oh, we know how that turns out) want the job. Ask former Board members, they will tell you. People don't listen to the facts, they formulate their own opinions based on the rumors of what others tell them. The field, although not a necessity, but certainly important to the community, will increase the amount of time the kids will be on the fields. When it rains, they lose the day it rains and perhaps another day or two, of field time. Many of the teams are forced to play their home games away and some just get cancelled. The new field, with lights, buys us the ability to get more usage and improve the overall experience for the student athletes. What is wrong with that? Yes, will there be an increase in the taxes we pay, for sure. Will it be hard for some, yes for sure. The bottom line is that we live in an expensive town and to invest will cost money
Westfield Parent September 22, 2012 at 06:55 PM
Mr. Rich Mattessich, your "holistic solution" is very different from BOE's "adding playing time". FYI, we do not even have money for the leaky roofs! And you fancy "holistic solution"? Kehler stadium is the home field for varsity teams football, soccer, field hockey, lacrosse, track and field. To put lights at Kehler would add playing time to all of our school sports. With lights at Kehler, problem solved! Kehler has established traffic patterns. Lights at Kehler is a lot less expensive than creating a whole new turf field and a new traffic pattern at high school. Therefore, lights at Kehler is the most logical, the most economical, and the most sensible thing to do!
Walkin Westfield September 22, 2012 at 09:50 PM
the WHS natural grass field is in excellent condition and has been for years, everyone can go look for themselves. Artificial turf fields in other towns, like Chatham, have 1/3 of the acquisition cost and 100% of the maintenance cost paid by private contributions, not via property taxes. The enrollment increase is a result of a temporary baby blip. By the school year 2020-2021 the WHS student population will be below the current 2012-2013 population. WHS has a "weatherproof" field it is called the gymnasium. The BOE should have planned for a rainy day by properly funding their Capital Reserve Account whose current balance is about $500.
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