NEW MILFORD — Mayor Pat Murphy came to the defense of the New Milford Board of Education decision to close Pettibone School at the end of the 2014-15 school year.
During Monday night’s Town Council meeting, Murphy presented a rosy picture of the education board’s decision and how it will benefit both taxpayers and children in the town.
The mayor downplayed many parents concerns about sixth grade being moved to Schaghticoke Middle School where the younger children will attend school with older seventh and eighth-graders.
Reading a letter by Schaghticoke principal Dana Ford, Murphy cautioned that “Schaghticoke should not be the scapegoat in this debate on reconfiguring grades in schools.”
Citing birthrate statistics, the mayor noted that “the birthrate is down even from what statisticians predicted.” Then the mayor pointed to the closing of the Birthing Center at New Milford Hospital by Western Connecticut Health Network as another sign that births are significantly in decline.
“The Board of Education acted from the heart,” Murphy said. “They want to spend taxpayer money wisely. Why spend money on capital projects when it can be put toward enhancing curriculum offerings?”
Murphy added that the town is still “paying off” many of its school buildings and keeping half-filled schools open is not cost efficient.