MSBA letter from SASS (Feb. 15, 2016)

See blog post for background.
The letter and packet are both available in PDF, and linked under “Public Comment” and “Official Documents”.

Date: February 15, 2016

To: Ms. Katie Loeffler Project Coordinator
Massachusetts School Building Authority
40 Broad Street, Suite 500
Boston, MA 02109

Re: Town of Amherst
Wildwood Elementary School

Dear Ms. Loeffler,

We write to you to make you aware of our concerns regarding both the process of the Feasibility Study for the Wildwood Building Project and the content of the PDP and PSR submitted to you by the District and OPM for this project. Our primary concerns center on the degree to which the District has informed the community and the lack of public support for the course they have chosen. This is the first packet of information that we will be providing to you and describes the results of the School Committee-commissioned survey of educators and parents/guardians, which shows a 2 to 1 opposition to grade reconfiguration. This is information that the School Building Committee was asked to submit as part of the PSR but which they did not include. Additional documentation of the depth and breadth of opposition to grade reconfiguration and Preferred Solution, and the significant procedural failings thus far in the process, will be sent to you in separate mailings.

It is our hope that this Feasibility Study can reach a successful outcome with a plan that will be supported by Town Meeting and the larger community in the form of an override for necessary funding. As it stands now, there are grave concerns about whether either of these required approvals would pass because of community opposition. It is our understanding that prior to the MSBA Board of Directors reviewing a preferred schematic design, the MSBA and District must agree on the Preferred Solution and that certain requirements are to be met. Among these are adequate responses to the MSBA’s review of the PDP and PSR as well as items specific to a change in grade configuration, that is: demonstrable educational benefits, public participation, and local approval. We believe that these requirements have not been met and, therefore, the District should revise their Preferred Solution and instead put forward an option that does NOT include grade reconfiguration.

We are very happy to speak with you further about these issues. Please contact us individually via email or phone as you see fit or write to us at the addresses listed below. If it’s not too much trouble, we respectfully request a brief phone call or email so that we are certain that you have received this packet. Thank you for your time and consideration,

Maria Kopicki
65 Country Corners Rd Amherst, MA 01002 413-218-6922

Laura Quilter
101 Red Gate Lane Amherst, MA 01002

Ariella Schwell
69 Dennis Drive Amherst, MA 01002