The future of New Milford's schools is very much in focus these days.

Throughout this month, focus groups on changes to come have been conducted by Arum & Associates at Sarah Noble Intermediate School.

Parents, faculty and instructional planning teams are meeting to share their thoughts, concerns and questions about the changes coming to the New Milford school district.

John Pettibone School is targeted for closing at school year's end.

"Parents and teachers have given us ideas we never thought of," said Edward Arum, a principal in the consulting firm. "For one, we're going into fifth grade classes to hear the kids' ideas."

The most recent session was a Jan. 15 community focus group at Sarah Noble Intermediate School.

Through last week, members of the New Milford community had taken part in 10 parent groups plus the Jan. 15 session.

Superintendent of Schools JeanAnn Paddyfote charged Arum with getting questions, comments and ideas from the community and bringing them all back for the administration to consider.

"We're not interpreting what people say," Jeff Olefson, Arum's associate, said. "We're waiting until all of the focus groups are over with parents and teachers, then we're posting their thoughts on the district's website."

Participants at each session write their thoughts on Post-it notes. Few questions are answered by Arum and Olefson.

"One concern was that the kids learn about the changes early on," Olefson said. "Students take field trips to what will be their new school. Students from that school come to John Pettibone to meet with them."

In April, after the district's spring break, an evening session will be offered at Sarah Noble during which parents would be invited to attend with their children who will be transitioning either there or to Schaghticoke Middle School.

They will meet with teachers and hear first hand what their children's new environment and experiences will be like, Olefson said.

Parents can learn what school their children will be redistricted to in fall 2015 by visiting the district website They may then click "Transition Year" and "Click here for transition year information" at the bottom of the page.

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