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Amy Finlay: Urges Amherst to move forward as a town


Tuesday, March 21, 2017
Urges Amherst to move forward as a town

Most parents understand that a larger environment isn’t better for our young kids, and most of us have an instinctual sense about what makes a school that “feels right.”

Unnecessary, increased time spent on buses, does not feel right. Grouping children in a grade cohort that is three times the size of their current one, from the earliest years, does not feel right. Separating siblings into two schools unnecessarily, doesn’t feel right.

Parents and teachers in Amherst were surveyed about our elementary school update options over a year ago, and this grade-reconfigured, large building solution was the least popular solution by far. It was the top choice of only 6 percent of parents and only 4 percent of teachers. Now, after it has been pushed forward, and held onto so tightly by influential supporters, despite ongoing, widespread opposition, we are in a position where it might pass a town-wide vote.

If it does, then I will tip my hat to the hard-working supporters, acknowledge it as the town’s will, and go along.

If it doesn’t, I hope that supporters of the plan will concede the will of the town-wide vote, so that we can finally start working toward a solution that more people can get excited about, on behalf of all of our town’s kids.

The marathon of this effort, on both sides, has had more hills in it than any of us anticipated — and I know that people who have worked the hardest on both sides are feeling it — but I am left feeling grateful.

I am grateful to the Building Opportunity for Learning and Diversity (BOLD) members that I have spoken with, who have engaged in real conversation, as we each genuinely stretched to understand each other’s outlook more.

I am also so, so grateful to the most hard-working of the Save Amherst’s Small Schools (SASS) members, who have demonstrated to me what it means to operate a campaign with unwavering honesty, civility and integrity.

However the March 28 vote goes, it is my greatest hope that we can move forward into the next phase, as a town, with a sense of trust in the process of self governance, and trust in the goodness and good intentions of each other as neighbors. We have all put forth our greatest vision and greatest effort. Now we let the good people of this town define our way forward.

Amy Finlay

Amherst