Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Our Survey Says

Dan McMurrer (an Amherst resident) from McBassi & Co presenting survey results

UPDATE: Thursday morning
Scroll to bottom of post for all Powerpoint slides presented last night

The somewhat rushed survey of parents/guardians and teacher/staff approved at a cost of $2,500 in late December by the Amherst School Committee was presented to a joint meeting of the School Committee and Wildwood Building Committee early this evening.

In fact the meeting personnel in the front of the room outnumbered spectators in attendance, although there is a Community Public Forum later this evening to discuss design options, costs and timeline for the expensive project.

 4:00 PM meeting was sparsely attended

The results of the two surveys show strong support for option B, the mega-school with two separate but equal wings -- aka two schools in one, with cost estimates that range from $57 to $66 million. Although the results were a lot stronger with teachers/staff than with parents/guardians.

In fact, if you factor in the margin of error Option A & B were essentially tied in the parents/guardian survey.  

Since Option B is two schools in one -- Wildwood and Fort River -- Amherst would then have only two elementary schools, the new mega school and Crocker Farm.

 Click to enlarge/read

Teacher/staff chose "Healthy work & learning environment" as #1 reason and #2 was "Impact on student learning."  While the parent/guardians also chose those as their top two reasons, only in reverse order.

Option A is simply to rebuild Wildwood, either new or renovate, and maintain three elementary schools, with hopefully Fort River getting renovated at a future date.  Cost ranges for those options range from $34 to $38 million.

The Mass School Building Authority will cover about half, possibly 55%, the total project cost.

 Much better crowd for the 6:30 Community Forum

The Amherst School Committee will make their BIG final decision on January 19th.

 Click to enlarge/read


Anonymous said...

is there a better photo of the cost of the school options?
my middle-age eyes can barely read the posted photo.

Larry Kelley said...

That was the best I could do shooting a computer display screen with my iPhone (If you click on the photo it will enlarge).

Mike Morris said the presentation slides would be available on the web tomorrow.

Anonymous said...

I saw Larry tonight doing his best to shoot the computer display.

Make sure that you look at that grid carefully, and understand the respective price tags.

Mr. O'Connor was there tonight, urging, in his usual vehement and confrontational style, the rebuilding of the two elementary schools, where they are, one after the other, which is, of course, the far most expensive route. He received applause from the audience there.

Rich Morse

Anonymous said...

What about the option where we build a new Wildwood--and not a new Ft. River--and everyone spends 2 years at Crocker, 2 years at Ft. River, 3 years at Wildwood.
Then the equity issues go away.

Anonymous said...

Anyone remember the portable classrooms?

Enrollment is declining.

Walter Graff said...

So am I correct in say that this is between a plan that the state calls for to get state money to build vs a plan that the town basically pays for? If so obviously you can see why most want the state plan. Unfortunately new buildings will not fix the problem with the Amherst school system. This is a good diversion off the real issue - lousy curriculum that favors equality over achievement. Build all the buildings you want. Until you focus on education and achievement first and foremost, you've wasted even more money.

Anonymous said...

"with hopefully Fort River getting renovated at a future date."

Love the "hopefully" but perhaps edit "future" to "distant future" in order to be more accurate.

And add in "essentially screwing over all of the Fort River kids" and "we didn't act while we had the chance to address ALL Amherst students (because of the Wildwood parents insistence on the "neighborhood schools" coded thing)" as well.

Anonymous said...

So last night as I was sitting there at the evening forum, I got my brain around one of the conundrums of Amherst governance: it's so much easier here to be the one jamming the stick through the spokes of the wheel than it is to be actually driving the bike. Mr. O'Connor appears to have lived his entire civic existence guided by that principle.

Exhibit A: Ms. Cage got up and gave a speech as if she were just another citizen in town, making a tortured argument that specific bad experiences family members or friends have had in the schools are somehow associated with school size. Figure that one out. But, did she forget that she's actually in the driver's seat as a member of the Committee? that once the public is told to quiet down, she can still keep talking and has at least the potential power to persuade her fellow members on the Committee? So what was she doing last night other than surfing on the wave of public pressure?

So the question is raised yet again about the chilling effect of all of this: what if we held a School Committee election and nobody ran? I would suggest that we're getting close. Who really wants to be a pinata?

Rich Morse

Larry Kelley said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

How come no one is talking about using ARMS for elementary now that arms kids are going to the high school?

Anonymous said...

Hi Rich at 11:07

Vira did something similar at Town Meeting this year.

She asked Ron Bohonowicz (school facilities chief) probing questions about school facilities issues from the floor of Town Meeting. She is, of course, on School Committee and should have been the one answering the questions.

That's when I decided to gather signatures for the Charter Commission.

Anonymous said...

Rich and Anon@956- It gets better; watch her turn on the tears at last nights follow-up school committee meeting. Her OCCUPY AMHERST/ OCCUPY SC events of trucking in her cronies to complain about the system are the real drag on our schools. We picked up on it Vira; if you were for the kids and stood by your comments from the election only a mere year ago instead of trying to stale mate every decision claiming conspiracy theory; maybe you would not be viewed as the snake in the seat. Go check out the public video from Amherst Media Election Series and the League of Women Voters candidate panel. A real example of ineffective leadership. (After you watch School Committee 1/14/16)

Anonymous said...

And this is one of the people planning to run for Ellen Story's seat! Vira could never come close to filling Rep. Story's shoes and it's an insult to Rep Story and all the voters in her district that she would even try.

Anonymous said...

I don't know... Tears shed by Hillary in '08 after losing Iowa...didn't work for her. Showed how weak she was/is. Won't work for Vira either.