Pettibone's future hangs in the balance
Board of Education to meet Tuesday to decide school's fate
Parents and grandparents of current students may well be in attendance Tuesday at 7 p.m. at Sarah Noble Intermediate School's library/media center.
A decision could be reached about closing Pettiobne, one of the town's three elementary schools.
"I'm not ready to close a school," said board member Bob Coppola, a retired teacher. "I would much rather see schools with smaller populations of students."
"I don't see in the future of New Milford that we won't need all three of the elementary schools," he said.
The elementary school recommended for closing by the board's facilities committee is Pettibone.
Coppola's thoughts reflect a constituency of residents who would like to keep Pettibone open and urge a town-wide referendum.
The oldest of the three elementary schools, Pettibone opened in the mid-1950s as the town began a dramatic growth period.
Redistricting would take place, and grades would be reconfigured with pre-K through second grades in the two elementary schools, third through fifth grades at Sarah Noble Intermediate School, and sixth grade moved from Sarah Noble to Schaghticoke Middle School to join the seventh and eighth grades.
Cost savings have been the primary focus of the board in its discussions about closing a school.
An estimated $679,497 could be saved in year one, according to the administration.
The one-time cost of closing an elementary school would be $210,720 -- an amount that could be taken from the capital reserve fund, according to Business Manager Greg Miller and Superintendent of Schools JeanAnn Paddyfote.
Board member and former longtime chairwoman Wendy Faulenbach was a member of the facilities committee during its months of discussion.
"We considered how we could utilize our buildings and make them work efficiently and economically," Faulenbach said during a March meeting. "Should we allow our schools to remain open with such a large percentage of classrooms that will be empty in multiple schools?"
Enrollment for the school district this school year is 4,346 students, compared to 4,591 students in 2012-13.
Projections presented to the board show a possible decline of 11 percent by 2017-18, with the pre-K to third grade classes affected the most.
A total enrollment of 617 students pre-K through third grade is projected for 2020-21.