Parents' concerns still cloud schools' transition
Published 1:38 pm, Thursday, November 13, 2014
A year of transition for New Milford schools is well underway.
Superintendent of Schools JeanAnn Paddyfote gave assurances this week everything is on target, even as a large pool of parents harbor doubts about the planned June closing of John Pettibone School.
"We're making inroads," Paddyfote said, "and moving along with the decision to reorganize. I feel we have a lot coming together."
However, several parents who helped circulate a petition in early fall to keep Pettibone School open are concerned.
They had thought the petition with more than 250 signatures had been submitted to the Board of Education in September.
"That petition was never even considered," said parent Kathy Flynn. "(Board of Education members) made their decision and they're standing by it."
The petition was never delivered, according to board member David Lawson.
Marissa Wandall, who initiated the petition, has not responded to calls from The Spectrum.
"Whatever happened to the petition," said parent AnnMarie Sarbello, "I still have my concerns."
"I feel like they're going too fast," she added. "I feel they need more time to roll out these plans. I just don't understand the rush and I don't think we're looking at what's best for our students' education."
The district's central office administrators began transition planning in October, including scheduling meetings with teachers and taking furniture and room inventories.
"Many of the tasks were time sensitive so they had to be picked up in-house until a consultant could be approved by the board," Paddyfote said.
Paddyfote said some decisions have already been reached with the assistance of the consulting firm Milone & MacBroom.
Students currently at Northville School -- if in the kindergarten and first-grade -- would continue there.
Any student who started at Hill and Plain would remain there.
"We're working through the transition for sixth-graders to attend Schaghticoke Middle School," Paddyfote said. "We are not adding any courses to the sixth grade curriculum already used at Sarah Noble (Intermediate School)."
At Schaghticoke, sixth graders will still have math, science, social studies, language arts and a section of reading.
Sixth grade teams will continue and the 15 teachers now managing teams at Sarah Noble will be transferred to Schaghticoke.
The Board of Education will decide during its Tuesday, Nov. 18 meeting about hiring the transition management team Arum and Associates LL at a cost of $45,000.
If hired, the team would begin work the next day.
"Arum and Associates were recommended by the Education Connection," Paddyfote said. "They would be tasked with keeping all stakeholders informed at each step in the process to provide transparency, reduce anxiety, and engender trust and confidence in this time of change."
The jury in New Milford is out about whatever happened to the Pettibone petition, but the town's schools are clearly on the fast track to transitioning its students.