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Letter to the Editor: Amherst should vote no on education referendum

(Judith Gibson-Okunieff/Daily Collegian)

I’m a local parent of two kids, ages six and four. I’m writing to ask that you vote no on Tuesday’s referendum ballot.

It may seem appealing at first–$67 million for a new school!—but this proposal is actually going to close one of our schools, and completely change our beloved system of small K-6 elementary schools. It will consolidate 750 children, who are in second grade through sixth grade, in the new building, on a site with small, fragmented playgrounds. It will send their little brothers and sisters—all 300 of the kindergarteners and first graders—to a school in the south end of town. In fact, the smallest children at my end of town will be on the bus twice as long, stopping first at the big kid school to the north of town before driving through downtown to the K-1 school. With this plan, 23 buses will stop at both schools twice a day.

I and other parents, teachers and community members want to keep our community schools. We currently have three small schools, with 400 or fewer kids per school, where the youngest kids can have fifth and sixth grade reading buddies, where everybody is a single bus ride from their school and where each school has great playing fields and playgrounds.

All of this would be lost with the proposed consolidation of elementary schools. Of course, many of us do want to renovate or rebuild our schools and deal with some outdated floor plans, but this plan throws out the baby with the bathwater.

We can vote this down, and devise a better solution to address our old buildings. Other towns have done just that.

Please help us “Save Amherst’s Small Schools.” Please vote no in the special referendum on Tuesday, March 28.


Toni Cunningham
Local Amherst Parent


2 Responses to “Letter to the Editor: Amherst should vote no on education referendum”
  1. P.M.M. says:

    While I respect Ms. Cunningham for sharing this letter, I find your appeal misguided. As a UMass student I feel it is highly inappropriate for fellow students​ to vote in this coming referendum. This vote could impact the school system and budget for the town of Amherst for years to come. This decision should be made by taxpayers, property owners, and parents whose children attend Amherst public schools. While it’s admirable to have an interest in local government, we college students are merely guests in the town of Amherst and have no business making decisions which will affect the town’s permanent residents. I urge my fellow college students not to vote in the March 28th referendum; that decision should be made by those who actually have a stake in Amherst public schools.

  2. Maria Gericky says:

    Sigh..this issue been so divisive for our town.

    The school building plan was supposed to be a positive forward vision for education and development in Amherst.

    After much consideration I have reluctantly come to the conclusion that the time has come to vote no on this version of the plan.

    I believe nothing will be wasted! Those in charge can easily pick up on the many smart and workable options the wonderful School Building Committee previously came up with. Thank you all for working so hard on this!

    I know it’s difficult for some of us to move on, but the time has come to vote no so we can begin the healing process town-wide.

    Best to all!


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