Town Meeting members had to negotiate a gauntlet of No supporters to get to auditorium
After two hours and twenty minutes of discussion Town Meeting voted no
In spite of narrow (50.8%) ballot support last week, 100% Select Board support, and a rah rah Daily Hampshire Gazette editorial, Amherst Town Meeting rejected the $66.4 million new Mega School by almost the same margin it passed on November 8.
The measure required a two thirds vote to pass since it involved borrowing but did not even muster a majority, losing 106 to 108 or 49.53% yes to 50.47% no.
The fatal flaw was not so much in the bricks and mortar construction -- the idea of twin schools under one roof -- but in the paradigm shift it would bring to neighborhood schools turning Crocker Farm into an "early childhood center" (Kindergarten and 1st grade) and building a Mega School for co-located 2-6 grades.
After the fall of former Superintendent Maria Geryk (who landed on a $300,000 cushion) the Select Board should have delayed both the ballot vote and Town Meeting article.
They have until February 2 so there's plenty of time to call another Special Town Meeting to try again, but with the stunning setback last night it's highly unlikely it would prevail.