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Peggy Matthews-Nilsen: Criticizes letter about Amherst schools

Published: 7/30/2018 11:27:40 PM
Criticizes letter about Amherst schools

The arguments in a letter published in the Gazette on July 20 defy logic (“Maintenance workers can’t fix schools in Amherst”).

First, the premise of the letter is spurious. While our community appreciates the hard work of our school maintenance workers, obviously they are not expected to “fix” our schools beyond regular maintenance and making temporary repairs. Their job is clearly not to renovate buildings.

Further, the writer’s assertion that the roof on the Fort River school would “continue to leak during class time,” implies it is impossible to temporarily fix a leaking roof while a building is being renovated. Taken to its logical conclusion, whenever a roof leaks, we need to tear down the building.

Second, while some students currently are bused out of their neighborhoods to our existing schools, under the previously proposed design for a single oversized, co-located school, all students would need to be bused — every day, most outside their neighborhoods. This universal busing of all students would not be environmentally sustainable.

Third, the statement that it would take 18 years to renovate Amherst’s two elementary schools is preposterous. Whole city blocks can be renovated in far less time. Amherst residents must question these spurious arguments and consider the agenda behind the numbers used.

Amherst originally got into this mess with our schools in the 1970s by following a fad of open classrooms in school design, compounding the mistake in trying to save money by using the same unproven design on a second elementary school. Amherst would be foolish to use another unproven fad of co-located or twin schools to get us out of our current predicament.

Most residents support making Amherst schools safe and functional as our highest priority. However, our children deserve rational, logical and sustainable decisions this time.

Peggy Matthews-Nilsen


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Northampton, MA 01061


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