Westfield Rejects Wall Of Fame

WESTFIELD — By a narrow margin, Westfield Academy and Central School board members voted down a proposal to establish an Athletic Wall of Fame for the district at their recent supplemental meeting.

Four board members voted no to the proposal, while three voted in favor of it, however, the board agreed that the district should continue to pursue the establishment of a wall of fame in the school.

WACS Athletic Director Jake Hitchcock proposed the creation of an Athletic Wall of Fame at the board’s Jan. 28 meeting. Hitchcock told board members that WACS is looking at how other districts operate their walls of fame. “We’re looking to do what Forestville is currently doing,” Hitchcock said.

Historically, an athletic wall of fame honors alumni, coaches, and community members who have made significant contributions to the district’s athletic program. Hitchcock noted that up to five individuals could be inducted into the wall of fame in any given year.

Hitchcock told the board that in order to be nominated, an individual would have to be out of school for 10 years. He indicated that the committee will work out the exact criteria for enshrinement on the wall.

WACS Superintendent David Davison said he has spoken with 12 superintendents from other districts about walls of fame. “Four districts have open walls of fame to recognize any graduate, two have sports walls of fame, and six do not have them,” he said. “A lot of positives come out of it, but at times, it creates some angst in the community.”

Board member Wendy Dyment said she felt that some type of wall of fame would be a good thing for the district. “I think this is a very positive move for Westfield, whether it’s open or sports-related, or one of each, it would continue the tradition of honoring people who have made great contributions to the district.”

Board Vice President Phyllis Hagen asked if a wall of fame is recognition for recognitions sake or if it is intended to inspire younger students. Nonetheless, she said she favored a general wall of fame. “Athletics are way out of proportion to all the other accomplishments that are made in this world,” she said.

Board member Eric Allen said he feels a wall of fame, particularly one focused on athletics could cause division. “There’s a lot of aspects here for honoring music, art, people who are doing good for the community,” he said. “Where’s the science guy? Where is the guy who does something for everyone?”

Board President Steve Cockram said that the board should authorize Davison to form a committee that would explore the creation of a wall of fame. “My thought is to have a Hall of Fame for everyone, not just for athletes,” he said. “Jake’s idea is to honor athletes, but we don’t know if it will go any further.”

Secondary Principal Ivana Hite pointed out that Westfield has always striven to recognize the accomplishments of its students. “I understand where Jake is coming from,” she said. “There are behind-the-scenes adults who we forget about and they should be recognized, whether it’s with a general wall of fame or an athletic wall of fame.”

In other matters, the board discussed preliminary projections for the 2019-2020 budget. Davison said that, overall, he anticipated a budget increase of $199,000 or 1.21 percent.

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Davison also said the special education budget is expected to decrease 3%, and teacher retirement system is expected to decrease by $104,000. “We anticipated it would go down this year. I’m glad to see it held true,” Davison said.

In other business, board members approved the appointment of Turner Construction Company as the district’s construction/management service.

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