Kurt Wise and Oliver Broudy: Amherst schools should reject elementary ‘mega-school’ plan (Oct 20, 2015). http://www.gazettenet.com/home/19047040-95/kurt-wise-and-oliver-broudy-amherst-schools-should-reject-elementary-mega-school-plan
Oct. 20, 2015
To the editor:
We are alarmed at the lack of attention being paid to the Wildwood School building project in Amherst. As some may know, the town has become eligible to receive state funding to fix or replace Wildwood Elementary School.
Of the three plans being considered, one would radically alter elementary education in Amherst, deeply affecting all pre-kindergarten through sixth-graders, their families and neighborhoods, as well as property values throughout town. Under this plan, Wildwood and Fort River elementary schools would be demolished and a new, 700-plus student mega-school would be built.
The elementary grades would be completely reconfigured, with all second- through sixth-graders moved to the new school and all pre-kindergarten through first-graders moved to Crocker Farm Elementary School. This would mean the end of small, walkable, community schools as we know them.
This is not simply a Wildwood issue; it has important implications for the town as a whole. And yet no substantive information has been provided regarding the impacts of this decision on students, families and neighborhoods, nor the costs of the various options.
Further, the decision will be made in early November, leaving the community no time to consider and respond. Given the high stakes, the lack of information and community participation, and the short timeline, we urge the school committee to categorically reject the mega-school option unless the town, as a whole, is allowed appropriate time to consider and respond to it.
Little time remains to influence this hugely important decision. If residents have concerns, now is the time to voice them — and to alert friends and neighbors. Two community forums are scheduled for Monday, at 3:30 p.m. and 7 p.m., in the Amherst Regional High School Library. Then on Nov. 3, the school committee will decide the fate of our elementary schools. We strongly urge you to attend these meetings and make your voices heard before it’s too late.