Urges Board of Ed to reconsider closing Pettibone
Published 4:20 pm, Wednesday, September 10, 2014
[Editor's Note: The following is an open letter to the New Milford Board of Education from New Milford resident Michelle Liguori].
To the members of the Board of Education:
This letter is regarding the current status of the New Milford public schools and the decision to close John Pettibone Elementary School.
On the website for the New Milford public schools, it states, "A collaborative partnership of students, educators, family, and community."
In the months leading up to, and also following the June 18 decision to close Pettibone at the end of the 2014-2015 school year, there has been significant public outcry, including multiple letters to the editor and at least two townwide petitions, not to mention the firestorm of conversations and opinions on social media.
The board's Facilities Utilization Committee that made the ultimate recommendation to close the school has had several members speak publicly about their opposition to closing the school.
Yet, upon opening the website, the first words that one reads are, "A collaborative partnership of students, educators, family, and community."
Where is the community aspect of this partnership?
The community has spoken, yet the ultimate decision was made by only five members of the Board of Education.
Of those five members who voted in favor of closing the school, at least two stated they were not completely sure before they cast their vote.
If members are not sure, then the time to vote is not yet ripe.
We were told at the Board of Education meetings that the first few years at Schaghticoke Middle School would be "tight."
If this is the case, then perhaps the closing of a school is premature.
No children should have to suffer in "tight" conditions, which will undoubtedly hinder the learning process.
At the June 18 Board of Education meeting, David Lawson made an amendment to the motion to close the school. His amendment was to delay the vote on the closing of a school in order to reassess the enrollment figures in one year.
That amendment failed.
Perhaps delaying the vote would give the smaller class sizes a chance to matriculate and avoid the "tight" situation forecasted for Schaghticoke Middle School.
Redistricting has also been suggested, but never addressed.
Children who live in the areas of Sunny Valley Road and Pickett District Road are currently attending Hill and Plain Elementary School.
Some of these children could walk to John Pettibone School if not for the need to cross busy intersections.
If redistricting were to occur and these children in the Sunny Valley and Pickett District areas, just for example, were to attend John Pettibone School instead of Hill and Plain, some of the uneven enrollment figures may begin to work themselves out.
According to Article VI, Paragraph 36 of Robert's Rules of Order, a member of the prevailing side may make a motion to reconsider.
On behalf of the community that is mentioned on the website for the New Milford public schools, I strongly urge the New Milford Board of Education to reopen and reconsider the June 18 vote to close John Pettibone Elementary School at the end of the 2014-2015 school year.
The community has spoken.
I feel as a graduate of New Milford High School, a parent and a small business owner in New Milford, it is time for the Board of Education to listen.