Timeline of School Renovations and MSBA Project

This is a timeline of school renovations prior to and during the MSBA process. For a more narrative description of how the process has played out, see “History of Reconfiguration and Public Process (or Lack Thereof)”.

Notable Elementary School Issues Pre-2014

— date ? — Town Meeting rejects proposal for a new building
2002 Crocker Farm renovated with MSBA funding. Amherst will finish paying this off in 2018.
2011 Fort River boiler replaced
Spring 2014 School Committee elections.  Katherine Appy elected.  No discussion of “reconfiguration” ever raised for candidates to specify positions on, or to get voter input on.
May 2014 Town Meeting votes to rescind Wildwood boiler funds and allocates $1M to enter MSBA feasibility study. Reconfiguration was not discussed.

MSBA Process Begins

Oct 9 2014 MSBA Feasibility Study Agreement signed. 30 month period begins, and should conclude at the end of March / early April 2017.
Spring 2015 School Committee elections.  Phoebe Hazzard and Vira Douangmany elected.  No discussion of “reconfiguration” ever raised for candidates to specify positions on, or to get voter input on.
Sept. 21, 2015 “Implications of Unified Configuration” presented to School Committee.
Sept. 29, 2015 Public forum.

When asked, Asst. Superintendent Mike Morris said there was no preference among the options for the “Wildwood School Building” project and that all options were on the table.

Oct. 20, 2015 School Committee meeting.

The District makes public for the first time its recommendation to “reconfigure” the Amherst elementary schools, to the School Committee in a public meeting.

Oct. 26, 2015 Public forums at 3pm and 7pm.

School Administration discusses reconfiguration in a lengthy (1 hour & 20 minute) presentation , followed by Q&A.

First set of cost estimates presented to public: Renovation $390/sf, $29-33M total project cost for WW, $31-36M for FR; Reconfiguration $375/sf, $43-50M total project cost. (Kopicki corrects the misstatements about MSBA timeline, but receives no response from School administration.)

Oct. 29, 2015 Maria Kopicki editorial published, correcting the misstatements about the MSBA process timing.
Nov. 3, 2015 School Committee vote scheduled, but delayed after significant community outcry demanded more time for community outreach and input — and MSBA corrected the School Administration that a decision on reconfiguration was not actually required at this point in process.
Nov. 23, 2015 MSBA added a 670 student, twin K-6 school option
Dec. 7 Preliminary Design Program (PDP) submitted to MSBA.
Dec. 8 Public Forum.
Jan. 2016 School Administration again recommended “reconfiguration” to the School Committee.
Jan. 13, 2016 Joint School Committee/School Building Committee meeting followed by Public Forum.  School Committee presented results of public survey, documenting that “reconfiguration” was the least popular of the MSBA options.  Survey results were NOT presented at the public forum.
Jan 14, 2016 School Committee meeting; three members read statements indicating their intention to vote for reconfiguration, leading Town Meeting member Mary Wentworth to observe that public process was “a sham”. (Daily Hampshire Gazette, Jan. 21)
Jan. 19, 2016 School Committee voted, 4-1, to “reconfigure” the elementary school system and close Fort River ES. School Committee members acknowledged this was an unpopular choice. (Daily Hampshire Gazette, Jan. 21)
Jan. 21, 2016 School Building Committee instructed that only the “reconfiguration” options remain viable based on the vote of the School Committee, and given various reconfiguration options ranging from a $61.2 million addition/renovation to a $67 million new building.
Feb. 2, 2016 School Building Committee selected the $67 million building as the “Preferred Solution”.
Feb. 11, 2016 Preferred Schematic Report (PSR) was sent to the MSBA.
March 18, 2016 MSBA instructs the District that they the PSR will not be allowed to go to the March 30 MSBA Board meting for approval and that they must “further develop and refine the preferred solution”. The MSBA advised the District that they needed to attend an additional Facilities Assessment Subcommittee meeting in April before possibly moving on to the May 25, 2016 MSBA Board meeting to seek approval of the PSR.
May 2, 2016 Spring Town Meeting begins.  Article 38 proposed to develop cost information about the total costs of the reconfiguration project, and the renovation, and garners support of more than a third of Town Meeting members (May 25).
May 25, 2016 MSBA permitted the District’s proposal to progress to the next step.

 

UPCOMING

Summer 2016/strong> Renovations scheduled for Fort River roof, doors, and parking lot, and Wildwood boiler repairs.
Sept. 2016 MSBA approval of project scope & budget requested.  (Deadline: April 2017, end of feasibility study)
Nov. 2016 Debt exclusion vote requires a majority of Town members.
Nov. 2016 Amherst Town Meeting approval date scheduled requires a 2/3 majority of Town Meeting members.
March 25, 2017 30 month window of “feasibility study” ends.
Spring 2017 Construction begins at Wildwood, over the “metal” big kid playground.
2017-2018 School Year Construction at Wildwood site, over the the “metal” big kid playground.
2018-2019 School Year Construction at Wildwood site, over the the “metal” big kid playground.
2019-2020 School Year Construction at Wildwood site:  Demolition of Wildwood, and construction of addition to new building to house Crocker Farm & Fort River students.

  • Fall 2019 – Wildwood 2-6 students would move into proposed “Mega School” while demolition of existing Wildwood begins.
  • Wildwood K-1 students …?
Summer 2020 Crocker Farm renovation begins. Fort River demolition or renovation begins.

  • Teachers and staff move out of Fort River permanently.
  • 2nd – 6th grade teachers move out of Crocker Farm.
  • CF, FR, and WW libraries merge and split across grades (pre-K-1 and 2-6).
  • Conversion of Crocker Farm 2d-6th grade rooms to pre-K-1.
  • Playground preparation at Crocker Farm to convert to pre-K-1 …?
2020-2021 School Year Sept. 2020 – Grades reconfigured.

  • Fort River and Crocker Farm grade 2-6 students move to the Wildwood site.
  • Wildwood, FR, and CF kids separated into two groups for the two wings.
  • Wildwood and Fort River K-1 students move to the Crocker Farm.
  • New grade sizes at each school will be 140 to 160 students per grade. Current bus plans have busses stopping at both sites.
  • ? Proposed demolition or repurposing of Fort River.  Playgrounds  and playing fields may be inaccessible depending on site activity and intended purpose.

 

Timeline as of December, 2015

The three options originally in the proposal to the State (the MSBA) were: (1) Renovate & add to Wildwood. (But the concern is this wouldn’t solve the fundamental building problems with Fort River.) (2) Build a new Wildwood and tear down (or re-purpose) the current Wildwood, somewhere, not necessarily at the Wildwood site. (The concern is this wouldn’t solve the similar problems with Fort River.) (3) Restructure all the Amherst Elementary Schools, tear down or repurpose BOTH Wildwood & Fort River, and build a new LARGE (750-student) school.

As of October 17, the District had collapsed the options into  (1) Reconfigure all Amherst Elementary Schools, to a K-1 (at Crocker) and a 2-6 (in a new building); (2) Reconfigure all Amherst Elementary Schools, in a slightly different configuration (different at the new 2-6 building and/or different at Crocker Farm); and (3) Renovate / addition or new building for Wildwood.

At the September 29, 2015, public forum, the District suggested that all options were on the table. In mid-October, District staff began confirming verbally that they planned to recommend a “grade reconfiguration” for all of Amherst.

  • October 20, 2015, 6pm, Amherst High School – The District makes public for the first time its recommendation to “reconfigure” the Amherst elementary schools, to the School Committee in a public meeting.
  • October 26, 2015 – 3pm and 7pm at the High School – Public Forums on the proposed consolidation.
  • November 2 (Mon.) – District meeting with SEPAC to discuss grade reconfiguration.  Flyer available as of 2015/10/27 Tue., 3pm.  Meetings: 9am Crocker Farm; 5:30pm Fort River.
  • November 2 (Mon.) – Town Meeting at 6pm.
  • November 3 (Tue.) – CANCELED and RESCHEDULED for Nov. 17.  School Board votes on the “Educational Plan”.
  • Nov. 17 (Tue.) – Wildwood School Building Committee. Agenda for 11/17 meeting (posted Nov. 16).
  • Nov. 17 (Tue.) – School Board voted to approve the revised “Educational Plan.”  (rescheduled from 11/3). See
  • Dec. 3 (Wed.) – School Building Committee will on the approval of the (“Preliminary Design Program” (PDP) to be submitted to the MSBA.
  • Dec. 8, 2015 (Mon.) – Public Forum, 3:30pm and 7pm. (Childcare available at 7pm)
  • Jan. 19 (Tue) 2016 – Amherst School Committee voting on grade configuration options.
  • Early 2016 – Town Meeting votes on the recommendations.
  • Early 2016 – Massachusetts (MSBA) decides whether to give the funds or not.
  • 2016 – 2018 – Construction
  • 2019 Fall – New / Renovated Building Opens.