Sparta voters send Murphy to the council

| 28 Sep 2011 | 03:02

Candidate opposes building new high school SPARTA - In what might be perceived by some as a preliminary referendum on a proposed new high school, Sparta voters elected Jerry Murphy to fill the vacant open seat on the township council, Tuesday. Murphy, who campaigned against building a new high school, was named on 2,139 of the ballots cast, leaving behind Kevin Pollison, who received 1,707 votes. Ralph Flaherty, a planning board member who had the support of local ranking Republican officials, received 2,123 votes. “I’m opposed to building any $109 million new high school,” said Murphy, who had the support of county Democratic officials in the Republican bastion of Sparta. “I don’t think we need a new footprint. It’s not what you surround the children with; it’s what you put in the classroom.” Pollison, a member of the now-disbanded Community Facilities Task Force which first began addressing the township’s overcrowded classrooms and growing student population some two years ago, was a staunch proponent of constructing a new high school. Murphy, a former college administrator, will replace former councilman Douglas Martin, whose decision to step down created the need for the nonpartisan election. Murphy has questioned the need to build a new high school on land in Station Park and instead favors adding onto the existing facility off Route 517. He has said that the township has survived similar enrollment crises in the past, specifically during the late ‘70s and early ‘80s. “This enrollment data saying the schools are more crowded is just not true,” said Murphy. “They don’t tell you what specific subject, what specific level is overcrowded. They just tell you there are too many people in the hallways.” Murphy, a Sparta resident for 55 years and a one-time substitute teacher at the high school in the late ‘60s, said he is more than willing to work with all parties involved to address the issue. “Some people are on a crusade, some people want to leave their stamp here,” he said. “There are some egos involved here and I don’t think that should be part of public service.”