Daily Hampshire Gazette - Established 1786
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Amherst seeks state funds for school improvements

The Select Board recently signed formal statements of interest in obtaining funding from the state’s School Building Authority for making improvements to both the Fort River and Wildwood elementary schools.

The statements of interest have been a near annual request since 2006 from both the Select Board and Amherst School Committee, as the two schools are no longer considered conducive to the best educational requirements of modern teaching, said Superintendent Maria Geryk.

Part of this deficiency is caused by the “open-quad” or “open-classroom” building design used at both schools, in which three to four classrooms are carved out of a space designed to hold up to 100 children.

The classrooms use partitions, rather than solid walls, causing distractions when children need to leave the room and increasing the amount of noise, Geryk said. There are also few break-out spaces for individualized instruction, Geryk said.

Select Board member Alisa Brewer said the community shouldn’t be alarmed by the filing of this paperwork, observing that the buildings are not deteriorating.

Facilities Director Ronald Bohonowicz said with 1,800 schools in the state, many are looking to renovate and the statements of interest demonstrate that Amherst wants to get in line for funding.

— SCOTT MERZBACH

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