THREE REASONS TO SAY NO ON 5
One of numerous NO on 5 letters submitted to the Amherst Bulletin / Hampshire Gazette
(1) We won’t “lose the money”. The Finance Committee confirmed what SASS learned from the MSBA: Other towns have gotten funding even after rejecting a plan. I’ve talked with many people over the past few months — even BOLD members — who said they preferred to keep K6 or have small schools, but despite not really liking this plan, felt they should vote “yes” because they are afraid of “losing the money.” But Amherst’s opportunity to gain state tax dollars for renovating or rebuilding our schools does not magically disappear if we reject Maria Geryk’s proposal.
(2) There are better ways to fix these problems. Not only are there better plans — greener, better educationally, more kid-friendly — there are faster and cheaper options for funding and renovating. For instance, the MSBA has repair programs, including an accelerated repair fund that takes just months, and can be used for health and safety issues such as boilers and roofs.
(3) Problematic process led to this flawed proposal. Maria Geryk had a distinctive vision of equity and a style of management. Her vision of equity as she described it publicly was that you simply couldn’t have equity without having all kids from the same grade in the same building. This is not what civil rights activists mean by equity.
Geryk also had a distinctive vision of decisionmaking: Top-down, without dissent or discussion. That’s no doubt why members of the Visioning Committee felt they were guided to Geryk’s vision; why almost all members of the School Building Committee have been hand-picked by Administration, most affiliated with the District; and why other volunteers were ignored or rejected.
That’s no doubt why, despite the 2+ years the MSBA gives for community outreach, the consolidation recommendation was kept under wraps until 2 weeks before the scheduled School Committee vote.
The same ideology led administrators, when parents begged for a teacher survey, to say that “teachers don’t know enough to decide”, betraying contempt both for teachers and for evidence-based decision-making.
But minimizing participation and input produces flawed results.
Question 5 is a flawed proposal that has deeply divided the community. But we are in the fortunate position of having better options. Please vote NO on 5 so that Amherst has a chance to unite around a proposal that is truly in the best interests of all our families.