Published March 21, 2017 in Hampshire Gazette
Need better educational environment in Amherst
As parents of two children in the Amherst-Pelham Regional School District, a first-grader at Fort River and a preschooler at Crocker Farm, our family has been following the discussions about the new schools for several years now.
One aspect of the current debate that has perplexed me is the concern that the proposed building’s size and population may have a detrimental impact on students. Both Fort River and Wildwood were built in the early 1970s to accommodate 750 students each. Currently, Wildwood has about 410 children and Fort River has about 340. The proposed building will have two co-located schools of 375 children each. Students’ day-to-day experience of the building will be of a school similar in size to the current schools.
The character and feel of the new schools will be an improvement over the existing buildings. Classrooms will be grouped around broad and bright break-out spaces and not anonymous corridors. All classrooms will have access to natural light and have acoustic separation. The current limited access to natural light and a lack of sound isolation is known to be detrimental to student achievement.
While I am grateful for the hard work and dedication shown by all the teachers and staff in the district, regardless of which building they work in, we as a community need to support a school building project that will improve the educational environment for all our children now.
Jonathan M. Salvon