Whose schools are they anyway?

It speaks to a sad perception – or reality – in town these days that some parents are concerned that because I don’t have children, I may not value our schools.

How did it come to this?

It used to be that people in Amherst were well-known for supporting the schools, but that’s not how it feels lately.  I was so bothered by objections I was hearing in last year’s discussions around the possibility of an override, that I wrote this opinion piece:  Whatever happened to “It takes a Village?”  It sums up my philosophy pretty well.

Our rotten financial situation is to blame for this temporary insanity, because people are rightfully worried about their tax bills and protecting the services they most value, but we have to keep some perspective.  If people in town start looking at the schools as a resource drain rather than as an investment (because not only are children our future, but the quality of our schools affects the value of our property, and reflects the values of our community) then the budget could be the least of our problems.  Talk about an Amherst one would not recognize or desire. 

You could say I’m “old school” about our schools.  I believe strongly in the social contract and our collective obligations to one another.  I have consistently voted to support School Committee recommendations at Town Meeting, as well as proposals supporting the fiscal responsibility and revenue growth necessary for our schools and the rest of our community to thrive.  And I want to live among people who take pride in great schools and in what we all contribute to their greatness.  That’s among the reasons I chose to live in Amherst. 

The School Committee has policy authority over the schools, but that doesn’t mean that the Select Board has no role.  The most important thing the Select Board can do to support the schools is to work to ensure that they are adequately funded, and that means addressing our financial crisis.  Addressing that crisis is why I’m running. 

You can learn more about my and the other candidates’ views on our schools, and on the interaction of the Select Board and School Committee on the ACE site, where our responses to such questions are posted. 


Carol Sharick said:

Thanks for saying this Stephanie. I urge everyone reading this to go back and read Stephanie's "Whatever Happened to 'It Takes a Village'".

It is well worth the read.

Mary Carey said:

LOVE the Amherst photo quiz. I am embarrassed to say I got a 16 thanks to some ill-advised second guessing.

Eva Schiffer said:

Well, you still beat me, Mary! I left several of them blank because I wasn't sure, and when I tried to go back, I had already been scored --a miserable 10!!! Now maybe you never knew I was the cautious type!
Anyway, it sure was fun, and now I could easily score a 20! Which is what Chris Hoffmann did, the first time around!

Karen DeSantis said:

As transplants here, we,too, are surprised at the negativity surrounding overrides. Longmeadow always passed overrides and I believe it is still ranked very highly even though our children graduated almost 15 years ago. The issue I have seen published in Amherst, however, is the cry for help on last year's school budget and then $800,000 being mysteriously found!!! I need to trust those in charge.

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