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.
Book sale donations
The League of Women Voters of Amherst is starting to collect books for its annual sale in early May on the Town Common.
People who have books, as well as compacts discs, DVDs and vinyl records in good condition, can bring them to drop-off locations at 7 Pomeroy Lane, unit 1, the former space occupied by a portion of the Amherst Montessori School, or to Super Stop & Shop at the Campus Shopping Plaza in Hadley, beginning Monday
People can call 253-0633 if they have a large quantity of books to donate. The sale, in its 65th year, will be held May 3, 4 and 5 and serves as the major fundraiser for the league. It helps finance voter service programs and publications.
Meanwhile, the Jones Library is participating in an April 23 event in which 25,000 volunteers in 6,000 communities across the country will give away half a million books.
World Book Night U.S. aims to bring specially printed paperbacks to those with limited means or access to books and promote reading.
Volunteers from the Jones are expected to go to various places in the area, including nursing homes and Veteran Administration hospitals, schools, food pantries and skating rinks.
The Pacific Lodge of Freemasons will hold a child identification program Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at its 99 Main St. headquarters.
The free event helps to identify and locate missing children by preparing a kit with a fingerprint card, a physical description, a video, a computer disc or DVD of the child, a dental imprint and a DNA sample.
The following Saturday, April 6, the lodge will hold an open house beginning at 9 a.m., which will coincide with a Red Cross Blood Drive from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. The open house will feature tours and a history of the lodge until 3 p.m.
The annual rabies clinic by the Amherst Health Department is April 6 from 10 to 11 a.m. at the Hampshire Veterinary Hospital, 260 Snell St.
All dogs, cats and ferrets are required by state law to be vaccinated against rabies.
Dr. Michael Katz, who serves as the town’s animal inspector, will be administering the vaccine for $15 per pet. Animal Welfare Officer Carol Hepburn will have dog licenses available during the clinic. For more information, contact the health department at 259-3077.
Tuesday: Zoning Board of Appeals, 6:30 p.m., Town Room, Town Hall.
Wednesday: Zoning Subcommittee, 5 p.m., and Planning Board, 7 p.m., both at Town Hall.