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Newcomer Kathleen Traphagen expected to join Amherst School Board

As one of two candidates in an uncontested race for two three-year terms on the Amherst School Committee, newcomer Kathleen Traphagen is likely to be joining the board Tuesday.

The second candidate is incumbent Richard Hood who is seeking a second term.

Traphagen, 47, who has lived in Amherst for nine years, is an education consultant with three children in the Amherst schools.

“The adults that are in leadership positions have a responsibility to make budget and policy decisions that reflect our commitment to ensuring that our children have opportunities to develop socially and emotionally,” Traphagen said, citing strong art, music and physical education as among her priorities.

“I have three children at Fort River, and they’re having a wonderful experience there.” Traphagen said that one of the strengths of the Amherst schools is that they recognize that “parents want more from the schools than a high MCAS score,” and as a School Committee member she would support a broad curriculum.

Traphagen has two sons and one daughter, who are in first and third grade at the Fort River School. Her husband, Khalid, is a vice-president at a software firm in the Valley.

When the superintendent released her budget proposal for next year, Traphagen published an opinion piece in the Amherst Bulletin opposing cuts to teachers in those areas. She said she still opposes those cuts and the superintendent should have offered the community alternatives. Arts education is particularly important because it can be used to engage students who are struggling in traditional academic subjects, she said.

Education is Traphagen’s professional area of expertise. Before moving to Amherst she worked for Boston Mayor Thomas Menino’s office as executive director of an education initiative that focused on after-school programing, and she now runs a consulting company that helps educational institutions and governments with planning and assessment.

More information about Traphagen can be found at www.kathleentraphagen.org.

In addition to serving on the committee that sets policy for the elementary schools, Hood chaired the Amherst Regional School Committee, which oversees the secondary schools, from 2010 to 2011 during the superintendent selection process.

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