Thursday, November 5, 2015

Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows

Amherst Town Meeting 7:01 PM (almost ready to start)

Proving the old adage about a stopped clocked being occasionally correct, Amherst Town Meeting managed to make it through an entire session without screwing up, completing the 15 article warrant last night in record time, two hours and forty five minutes.

Although the usual voices from the margin gave it a good college try.

Newer of ye old landfills already has a commercial Transfer Station located there

Best news to report is a large scale Solar array will come to the newer of the old landfills as that project has near unanimous support.

Ye old landfill

Despite the usual complaints from neighbors living in the upscale area next to the other, older, landfill Town Meeting gave the Town Manager, described by offbeat member Carol Gray as a "blank check," the right to negotiate Net Metering Credits, lease the newer/old landfill to SunEdison and negotiate with them a Payment In Lieu Of Taxes.

Let's hope the Town Manager does the same with ye old landfill and maybe throw in a few extra tall wind turbines as well.

North Common in front of Town Hall has not had major work in a generation or two

With little discussion Town Meeting voted almost unanimously for Community Preservation Act spending of  $190,000 for renovation to the historic North Common and $240,000 for an ADA pre-school playground at Crocker Farm Elementary School.

 Amherst Regional Middle School: currently grades 7&8 (used to include grade 9 as well)

The $150,000 spending item to renovate the Amherst Regional Middle School to allow Leisure Services and Supplemental Education (Rec Dept) to relocate from the Bangs Community Center so a community health center can move there did stimulate a bit of discussion although it still passed overwhelmingly.

Member Janet McGowan asked if this would preclude using the Middle School as a Kindergarten through 8th grade in the controversial restructuring now being considered for Amherst elementary education?

One of the excuses for not tapping the underused Middle School is that it is "owned by the Region", even though Amherst makes up more than 80% of the Region.

And this move of a town department into a region owned facility makes it look like recreation is more important than the education of children.

Ms. McGowan's question went unanswered.

Town Meeting concluded with an easy one, spending $170,500 (matched by a state grant) to purchase 141 acres in Pelham, aka "Romer Woods," adjacent to Hills Reservoir.  Amherst is nothing if not careful with its drinking water supply.

Romer Woods abuts Hills Reservoir, Pelham

Although, considering the controversies Amherst is famous for, many outsiders wonder what exactly is in our water supply.


Anonymous said...

But who stole the electronic voting devices!

Anonymous said...

Scotty beamed them up

Anonymous said...

Glad we agree that Romer woods is a wonderful, important investment….

- Your Friend (from Vulcan, who indirectly lent a hand to that, 25 years ago…)

Anonymous said...

folks doubting the need for a major to replace TM, should be forced to watch the most recent TM. It captures all the elements that reflect how ridiculous our form of "representative" government is (it would be IF we are a town of only senior citizens). Many of these folks shouldn't be allowed behind the wheel, let alone making complex decisions with no expertise or knowledge of the article, with often millions of dollars at stake. Just watch it...then sign the petition.

Anonymous said...

I'm disappointed by vote approving the $ for LSSE to relocate to the ARMS. Even though the "visioning summit" on the MS-HS consolidation hasn't even happened yet (it's scheduled for tomorrow), the consolidation already feels like a fait accompli, as if the district is just going through motions of having a public process, without actually having one.

The proposed elementary school consolidation was feeling the same until the district finally agreed, just hours before the School Committee vote to slow down the process & the decisions, as parents had been asking for all along since first hearing of the elementary school project (the first public forum was scheduled 5 weeks before the planned vote -- definitely not enough time for a decision of such magnitude).

& coming out of the middle school, there are more & more concerns being expressed by teachers (former & present, though the present ones understandably won't give their names) & parents. Some of the "schedule changes" (as administrators first referred to them, even though they were much, much more) implemented at the MS this year seem like they have been problematic. First we heard from one former teacher, Alfie Alschuler about his concerns re: the use of the workshop model for many classes & how a great teacher left because of the MS changes, and then in this week's Bulletin (, we heard from another parent about his concerns based on his conversations with teachers.

Additionally as an ARPS parent who is friends with a number of MS teachers, I am concerned to hear that after Alshuler's & Demling's columns appeared in print, MS teachers were chastised by the administration for talking with parents & expressing their opinions. Some teachers are afraid of speaking up because they don't want to lose their jobs, which is why both columns didn't name any names. Teachers should have the right to speak their minds & it is concerning to me to hear that the administration is trying to squash any dissent or criticism. To me, this is similar to the way the administration treats parents or community members who have questions or concerns -- many times, I have gotten the feeling that administrators would prefer that the public/parents just keep out of it & let administrators do their jobs. But we don't & we shouldn't have to.

As time goes on, I have less & less faith in the current administration, & its ability to lead the Amherst schools.

Anonymous said...

I agree anon@10:25, we also learned at TM that the regional school isn't even going to make any money off of leasing to LSSE or to GCC (laws apparently prevent it and they can only pay for utilities used). So why did the SC support these options? Is there some other reason? Like to nudge the decision to move 7-8th grade to the HS? All smoke and mirrors.

Once again, is there anyone who thinks that Amherst schools are BETTER than they were 10 years ago? How many think they are worse off?

BTW, when and why did the MS stop offering LSSE the use of the indoor pool?

Anonymous said...

Your ageism is stunning,

Anonymous said...

The liberal ideology doesn't work. In the town or the nation.

Anonymous said...

Worse now. 10 years ago, there was discipline. Not a lot, mind you, but now there's a racist non- policy which turns a blind eye to infractions by blacks.

Anonymous said...

I think that the Amherst community kids swim team now uses the MS pool.

I think that LSSE stopped doing so when they & the SC district couldn't agree on how much LSSE should pay for use of the pool.

I hope now that LSSE will be in the building again that maybe LSSE will be able to use it again.

& if the regional school district isn't going to make any $ on letting LSSE & GCC use the MS building, then maybe the regional towns would consider selling/leasing the building to the town to use as an elementary school instead of the town having to spend $20 million plus on a new large (up to 800 students) elementary school. If the regional towns are strapped for $, why would they want to hold onto & keep paying for a MS building that the district won't need as a MS anymore.

The district has said that elementary school students can't be put into the MS building because it's part of the region. However, they also said that the School Committee would have to vote earlier this week on an elementary school building option or the project could be jeopardy. I never believed them on the elementary school vote (& hey look, the SC just put off the vote until Jan). I am not sure I believe them about the MS building & not being able to use it for elementary students either.

Anonymous said...

Heard that MS teacher, who was excellent, didn't leave because of the coaching model - he took a position as a coach in another district. He also cotaught for a very long time, so that could not have been it either. Wondering if it was a peer/colleague issue as has been suggested in the rumor mill or if he didn't like the level of accountability and taking constructive criticism. ????

Anonymous said...

is that that the administration in ARPS engages in - constructive criticism? Some of what I have heard from administrators' written & spoken words sounds pretty unconstructive to me.

Anonymous said...

Hey Larry: didn't know you were a Lesley Gore fan!

Anonymous said...

It seems there are several new ARMS programs starting at once (w the guidance of Mr Morris and the edict of Ms Geryk) and with still new principal.

Co-teaching, which I understand as the regular ed teacher teaches while the paraprofessional "co-teaches". Does the paraprofessional have educational training? Does the paraprofessional get a salary befitting a trained professional teacher?

Coaching model: direct observation by administrators to check whether the teacher is following the new programs.

Workshop model of teaching that limits teacher-centered learning (ie lecturing and modeling concepts) to a small portion of class time. In the remaining time, students work together (w perhaps some teacher input). Presumably the paraprofessional is expected to contribute and help non-SPED students (co-teach), in addition to the SPED students. This workshop model was developed around literacy (Lucy Caulkins). Where is the data that supports applying this model to ALL subjects? Real data, not some shit that the administrators think the community will accept (like the publisher produced data provided in support of the IMP HS math program). This is an educational experiment on Amherst students. No wonder some teachers are concerned. The whole community ought to be concerned.

If I'm off base on my understanding of these new programs, please educate...

Jackie M'Vemba said...

Please refer to "Is Lucy Calkins Legallt Insane?" ( previous blog here."

Jackie M'Vemba said...

(Title of previous blog here was/is "Educational Point / Counterpoint.")

Anonymous said...

Larry~You state "Amherst is nothing if not careful with its drinking water supply." If this is true why do they poison the water with fluoride? Why do they force medication on its residents? Fluoride is fundamentally a poison, with no beneficial biological role in the human body, and the effectiveness of swallowing fluoride to reduce tooth decay has never been demonstrated by a randomized controlled trial. The board of health knows this to be true. Any intellectual knows this to be true. How can they get away with this?

Anonymous said...

Government plot. Then again, not being an intellectual... Lol. Good thing you're around. Don't know how i lived to age 87 drinking all that poisoned water. Next thing you will tell me is that the earth is cooling. Oh wait! No, that was the 1970s era settled science. It's to laugh!