Emily Boutilier: Concerned about educational aspects of the new plan, and long-term financial aspects

Letter sent to School Committee, October 28, 2015

Wednesday, October 28, 2015 9:59 AM

Dear Members of the School Committee:

I am the parent of a Wildwood sixth grader. The proposed elementary school reconfiguration will not affect my child’s education, yet it is of great concern to me as a member of the community. I appreciate that the town is in a bind: There are two elementary schools that need to be rebuilt and a state grant to help pay for only one of them. Financially, the proposal to create a PK-1 school and a 2-6 school makes sense in the short term. I have serious doubts that it makes financial sense in the long term. I also have serious doubts that the plan is best educationally, either short or long term.

Would a young family moving to the area ever say, “We looked at many towns, but what really sold us on Amherst was that the elementary school has 750 students.” I am certain that would never happen. People value and appreciate the many benefits of smaller, neighborhood-centered elementary schools. Is there any research indicating that this school structure would be a draw to families, or to homeowners in general? Instead, I find it easy to imagine that this plan would result in an exodus of Amherst families to the small schools in neighboring towns and to charter schools.

Without research on these possible outcomes, we are simply making guesses. These guesses could have grave consequences for Amherst schoolchildren and taxpayers for generations to come. To me, the educational drawbacks seem to outweigh the short-term financial benefit.

Thank you for reading this letter, and for serving on the School Committee. I know you have each put many hours into giving Amherst children a great start in life.

Sincerely,

Emily Boutilier
36 Chestnut St.