Too many issues left unaddressed
Published Friday, March 24, 2017, in the Daily Hampshire Gazette
Plans for an early childhood center in Amherst are not part of the March 28 vote. Not one penny of the $67 million is allocated for an early childhood center.
All required modifications, furnishings and center development will be at an additional cost to the town.
The current pre-kindergarten program in Amherst is underutilized. The state does not fund pre-kindergarten education for all. Amherst is responsible for its funding. If there is not a need for part-time pre-kindergarten spots, why would we expand this program?
The plan to reconfigure elementary schools needs to be revisited. Early childhood education is defined as K-2. Why is Amherst planning to go against this?
Age 7 is not developmentally the right time to transition children to a large school. It is an age where reassurance is needed. Ongoing support and familiarity is key.
Many second-graders are still learning to read. They need the teachers, books and materials they used in first grade to cement their skills.
Seven-year-olds are not ready for a 35-minute school bus ride (headed toward the University of Massachusetts during the busy morning commute) and their playground should be nowhere near a bus driveway/circle.
With the focus on a new school, a lot of issues and additional expenses are still unaddressed. Vote “no” — we need a cohesive and comprehensive plan first.