Amherst School Committee 5-17-17

Amherst School Committee 5-17-17

Amherst School Committee 5-17-17

REGULAR Meeting of the AMHERST School Committee
6:00 PM, WEDNESDAY, May 17, 2017
Amherst Regional High School
1. Welcome 6:00 p.m.
A. Call to Order
B. Approve Minutes—April 25, 2017 and May 1, 2017
2. Announcements and Public Comments 6:05 p.m.
3. New and Continuing Business
• Role and Membership of Fort River Feasibility Study Building Committee 6:15 p.m.
• Charter/Private/Choice Family Survey (discussion) 6:35 p.m.
• Feedback from Initial Post-Building Project Engagement (discussion) 6:45 p.m.
• School Committee Communication with Public (discussion) 7:05 p.m.
• Interim Superintendent Evaluation Instrument (vote) 7:15p.m.
4. Arts Integration Update with Susan Wells 7:25 p.m.
5. Interim Superintendent’s Update 7:35 p.m.
6. Further Business
• Clerical/Media Award (vote) 7:45 p.m.
• Policy Vote: Students—Protection of Undocumented Students 7:50 p.m.
• Accept Gifts, Including Summer Program Donations 7:55 p.m.
7. School Committee Planning 8:00 p.m.
8. Adjournment 8:10 p.m.
Amherst School Committee Meeting
Tuesday, April 25, 2017
Library, Amherst Regional High School
Phoebe Hazzard Mike Morris, Interim Superintendent
Peter Demling Sean Mangano, Finance Director
Anastasia Ordonez Faye Brady, Student Services Director
Eric Nakajima Derek Shea, Principal, Crocker Farm
Vira Douangmany-Cage Diane Chamberlain, Principal, Fort River
Nick Yaffe, Principal, Wildwood
Wendy Bloomenthal, Recorder
1. Call to Order and Approve Minutes 6:01 p.m.
Dr. Morris called the meeting to order at 6:01 p.m. and asked for nominations for Chair. M. Nakajima nominated Ms.
Hazzard. Ms. Hazzard accepted. Mr. Demling seconded and the nomination was unanimously approved. Ms. Hazzard
requested nominations for Vice Chair and nominated Ms. Ordonez. Mr. Nakajima seconded and the nomination was
unanimously approved. Ms. Hazzard requested nominations for the Representative of Union 26. Ms. Ordonez nominated
Ms. Douangmany-Cage, who declined the nomination. Ms. Douangmany-Cage nominated Mr. Demling. Mr. Nakajima
seconded and the nomination was unanimously approved. Ms. Hazzard requested two school committee representatives to
join the Joint Capital Planning committee (JCPC). Ms. Hazzard and Mr. Nakajima volunteered. Ms. Ordonez moved to
approve the minutes from March 15, 2017. The motion was seconded by Ms. Douangmany-Cage and approved 4:1 with
Mr. Demling abstaining.
2. Announcements and Public Comment 6:05 p.m.
Mr. Demling shared interest in ensuring that Amherst School Committee has representation at upcoming events: Amherst
Town Meeting, 4/26/17 and 4/27/17, specifically regarding Article 9; Forum on State Funding for Public Schools,
Easthampton High School, 4/27/17. Dr. Morris identified Article 9 as the operating budget for all town departments and
noted that there are multiple articles relative to the schools. Dr. Morris reported that the school district is considering a
request of Town Meeting that would schedule school related articles for May 8, 2017. Ms. Hazzard has the written
language prepared for such a request of Town Meeting. Dr. Morris requested that further discussion and a decision
regarding said potential request of Town Meeting be held until the end of tonight’s school committee meeting.
Ms. Hazzard requested an extension of public comment time to total 40 minutes rather than the identified 10 minutes on
the agenda. No objections were presented.
1) K. Appy thanked the school committee members for their service to students and read a letter of support for the
feasibility study at Fort River. Ms. Appy stated that with the recent failed building project, the schools would not be in
receipt of the projected energy and operational savings; encouraged school committee members to advocate with the
Town to offset the lost savings deficit; to fully fund the budget guidance gap, and to receive the same budget increases
as other town departments.
2) L. Solowiej stated that her children “have had a wonderful experience at Fort River, in spite of the building.” Ms.
Solowiej expressed concern the recent failed building project may result in the loss of talented colleagues and/or
negatively impact the search for a Superintendent. Ms. Solowiej presented additional concerns and advocacy needs in
the areas of: the need for building to have access to natural light, specifically for special education programs; parent
choice in special education programs, consideration of student placement upon graduation from a special education
program; transportation of special education students; urgent need to support the feasibility study.
3) A. Swift reported that as a resident of Applewood and a member of an “aging demographic,” she is in support of the
schools and a timely feasibility study.
4) T. Neale, member of Town Finance Committee, expressed interest in commenting after the topic of the feasibility study
occurred in the agenda. School Committee consensus was to not expand public comment into additional agenda
5) J. Newman thanked school committee members for their time and service. Ms. Newman expressed support of the
recently failed school building project; shared concerns regarding current infrastructure; and advocated for the 
redirection of funds for the boiler replacement at Wildwood to instead go to the feasibility study at Fort River, stating
“Don’t sink money into a building that is fundamentally flawed.”
6) H. Smith thanked the school committee members. Ms. Smith shared additional gratitude to the Amherst Schools for
advocacy and work with special education students. Ms. Smith expressed the importance of special education students
to attend school with their siblings and neighbors. Ms. Smith highlighted infrastructure problem and encouraged
school committee members to redirect funds to a full feasibility study at Fort River.
7) S. Arwade urged school committee members to invest in long term infrastructure “rather than boilers and roofs.”
8) M. Clark expressed “dismay” over the recently failed building project, and stated that “infrastructure related to equity.”
9) I. Dojourse requested additional information on the scope of the roof analysis and the boiler. Questioned whether or
not consideration had been taken that if the Wildwood boiler is replaced, can it be converted to gas in the future -
pending a lift on the moratorium? Ms. Dojourse expressed support of a full feasibility study at Fort River and
encouraged the use of architects who specialize in school remodeling.
10) F. Callahan reported that Town Meeting Articles 1-7 are in the consent calendar and are anticipated to move quickly.
Article 9 (with two school budgets are near the top). Ms. Callahan encouraged the school committee to be in touch
with the Town Moderator regarding scheduling. Ms. Hazzard responded that communication with the Moderator is
taking place.
11) B. Hazlip shared support of a fully funded feasibility study.
12) J. Coleman urged school committee members to aggressively pursue a feasibility study, and expressed concern that the
recently failed building project may negatively impact new families and professionals who are considering moving to
the area.
13) D. Menikoff spoke on his opposition to the recent building project plan, and extended a shared commitment to
addressing the needs of Amherst K-6 schools.
14) K. Holeverd posited questions regarding why are specialized programs housed in schools with the poorest
15) Parent of CF first grader questioned what will happen to the affordable preschool option and transportation, urging
school committee members to keep these needs at the forefront of upcoming decisions.
3. Interim Superintendent’s Update 6:44 p.m.
DOCUMENT: Interim Superintendent’s Update to the Amherst School Committee dated April 25, 2017
Dr. Morris acknowledged that 4/26/17 is National Administrative Professional’s day and encouraged people to take part in
celebrating said individuals, as well as to learn more about the annual clerical/media awards. Dr. Morris thanked the
Information Systems staff and the Principals for a successful and smooth first year of online MCAS in grade 4. Ms. Ordonez
requested information regarding how many students had opted out of MCAS. Dr. Morris reported (for grades 3-6) a
decrease in opt out students vs. 2015-2016.
4. New and Continuing Business 6:52 p.m.
A. Follow-up to Failed Building Project Vote
DOCUMENT: Post-Building Project Presentation dated April 25, 2017
Ms. Hazzard read a prepared statement. Mr. Demling spoke on the notion and importance of coming together in the sense
of urgency; the need for a shared and explicit plan; and the political will that is present in the community. Dr. Morris
thanked the public for attending and introduced his pending presentation. A condensed version of tonight’s presentation is
forthcoming at building level faculty meetings as well as with Parent Guardian Organizations. Future opportunities will be
made available for public involvement and feedback. Dr. Morris emphasized that students and staff need the decision
makers to act in their best interest, based on the variables and resources that are available at present, and urged that
resolution of the dual realities (see powerpoint) occur as soon as possible in order to maximize student learning.
Mr. Demling inquired about the identification of $800,000 + in cuts that have been made. Dr. Morris agreed to provide an
itemized list of said cuts to the school committee at a future meeting.
Ms. Ordonez inquired about sunsetting grants and status of reimbursements - specifically questioning if the district is
looking to outside partnerships and higher education collaborations. Mr. Mangano shared Higher Ed. support of the Family
Center; collaboration with UMASS to explore the impacts of and resolution to the tax exempt issue of international
students with attending children who the district receives zero financial assistance for. Mr. Nakajima spoke regarding the
challenges born of the town passing the charter school monies (cuts) through to the schools; other budgetary challenges;
and emphasized the need for local conversation(s) and resolution. Mr. Demling expressed the need for a conversation and
explicit understanding between the Town and the District in regards to cost per pupil. Ms. Douangmany-Cage spoke on the 
importance of advocacy to effect change, specifically in the areas of Chapter 70 and Charter Reimbursement. Ms.
Douangmany-Cage shared recent experiences of actively participating in the Day on the Hill event, and concurred that both
school committees need an increased presence at events such as the public forum in Easthampton on Thursday, April 27.
Ms. Ordonez noted that there is an enhanced energy and advocacy surrounding the topic of Chapter 70 funding, among an
increasing amount of school districts. Ms. Ordonez called for increased legislative pressure, while also acknowledging the
legislative conversations is a long term process. Ms. Ordonez noted the need for local, doable actions to engage people in
now. Ms. Hazzard questioned the implication on the current budget in regards to the sunsetting of the preschool grant. Dr.
Morris confirmed that said figures have been worked into the current budget.
For purposes of this presentation and conversation, Dr. Morris highlighted the need to separate the enrollment challenges
from the infrastructure challenges. Additionally, Dr. Morris emphasized that enrollment policies are fully in the hands of
school committee and Superintendent. Dr. Morris distinguished between Economically Disadvantaged Percentages vs.
Free-Reduced Lunch within Current Rates of Poverty. Dr. Morris expressed concern regarding the imbalance of equity in
relation to the concentration of poverty between Amherst schools. Ms. Douangmany-Cage spoke briefly regarding the
opportunity gap and the impact of standardized tests. Mr. Nakajima suggested that districting decisions made years ago,
could not have been created as a permanent solution, and echoed Dr. Morris regarding the importance of a current
districting discussion & revised policy based on the conditions and variables of today. Mr. Nakajima stated that the goal of
closing the achievement gap; a thorough infrastructure conversation; and addressing the myriad of enrollment challenges
all fit together and the essentialness of the community-at-large having and understanding this information. Ms. Ordonez
requested clarification on changing enrollment trends. Dr. Morris reported that Crocker Farm and Wildwood remain
consistent, and that Fort River has a declining enrollment while simultaneously experiencing an increase in poverty. Dr.
Morris discussed that available analysis and exit information indicates that demographic shifts in enrollment have little to
do with infrastructure. Mr. Nakajima suggested consideration for how different cohorts move through various physical
spaces in town (i.e., a growing number of aging residents appear to be aging in place, rather than moving and opening up
homes to potential families). Ms. Douangmany-Cage inquired about the placement of Marks Meadow students upon the
closing of said school. Dr. Morris responded that most of Marks Meadow students were placed at Fort River. Mr. Shea
provided a brief presentation on Crocker Farm, with emphasis on enrollment and space as well as specific advocacy for
preschool and early education needs (relative to physical space). Mr. Shea welcomed the advancing of enrollment of
preschool and early education, yet deferred to research on income achievement gap and the need for increased break out
spaces. Dr. Morris reported that the district is currently working with the state regarding the Crocker Farm preschool
currently beyond capacity with an active wait list, and having limited space. Dr. Morris spoke about the urgency of
decisions regarding specialized program busing as well as redistricting. Mr. Nakajima summarized the need for school
committee members to understand the roadmap, implications, and criteria for making such decisions. Dr. Morris
recommended that the present focus be on criteria and desired outcome. Dr. Morris presented a conceptual option
involving two enrollment zones while maintaining three schools. In said concept, Dr. Morris identified Fort River as an indistrict
school of choice (with dual language Spanish immersion); Crocker Farm and Wildwood as neighborhood schools
with mirrored specialized programs (resulting in a decrease in special education busing needs). Dr. Morris cited research
and shared ongoing and active collaborations with experts and colleagues as this concept has taken shape. Some of the
highlighted benefits include: two enrollment zones result in improved income equity; the infrastructure at FR is enhanced
by utilizing the outer classroom sections. Mr. Demling thanked Dr. Morris for his thought and research, requesting that this
level of transparency be a model of fresh, out of the box creative thinking and an example of how to go through change in
process. Ms. Douangmany-Cage expressed concern for students in specialized programs (Building Blocks) who may not be
able to access the dual language program. Dr. Morris stated that the three district specialized programs are quite different
from one another and that based on the specialized needs of a student, a dual language program may or may not be in the
best interest of a student. Mr. Nakajima expressed reluctance to engage in a public conversation of this magnitude at
present, however noted that additional such conceptual ideas are encouraged and could be fully vetted as to their ability to
provide creative efforts to resolve current challenges. Ms Hazzard identified the need for school committee to decide on
the process and the time frame. Dr. Morris shared a sense of urgency along with need for process and community
involvement, suggesting summer school committee meetings to explore viable solutions. Ms. Ordonez expressed concern
for the likely diverse and great number of ideas that would be brought forward without a carefully crafted and well
analyzed list of criteria. Ms. Ordonez suggested the district engage in discussion, research, and collaboration with other
districts and school committee groups to learn of their histories and perspectives. Dr. Morris reported that he has been in
communication with local experts along with additional experts throughout the field as well as other school districts. Mr.
Ordonez suggested that a timeline, specific to enrollment and infrastructure needs, be established as soon as possible.
Dr. Morris presented the infrastructure needs as separate from the urgent enrollment challenges. Mr. Demling sought
clarification and received confirmation from Dr. Morris that all of the Assumptions in Scenarios (see powerpoint
presentation) are conservative and most likely are best case scenarios. Dr. Morris provided clarification on the
commissioning process: Occurs when the building is being actively used; assesses whether or not the building matches the
plans; is required by MSBA. Dr. Morris confirmed that the facts as presented have been thoroughly vetted and are as
factual as present day information provides, and that the size of the school(s) for the various options presented remains
consistent. Discussion and clarification regarding MSBA application eligibility: Ms. Douangmany-Cage reported that it is
possible to have accelerated repair via MSBA simultaneous to MSBA new/renovation. Dr. Morris stated that MSBA does not
allow two core projects to be done in parallel. Ms. Ordonez expressed concern for the impact on space and placement of
students if renovations occurred simultaneously. Dr. Morris stated that the Finance Committee had not indicated being in
favor or against the possibility of simultaneous renovations. Mr. Nakajima questioned the possibility of and advocacy for
the cost of a Fort River feasibility study and a replacement boiler to come from Town Meeting. Marylou Theilman, Chair of
the Town Finance Committee, encouraged Dr. Morris and the school committee to speak to the Town Manager regarding
the possibility of appropriating funds in the Fall, to be accessed in phases. Dr. Morris requested that guidance from the
school committee regarding Capital Requests be made in advance of the May 5 JCPC meeting. Ms. Hazzard reported that
discussion at the most recent JCPC meeting centered on a $700,000 feasibility study.
Final Comments:
Mr. Demling and Ms. Douangmany-Cage voiced their full support for a full feasibility study. Ms. Ordonez expressed concern
in progressing with a feasibility study without being clear about intended use of the building. Dr. Morris clarified that the
educational plan does not and could not take place for some time. Ms. Ordonez requests that a series of meetings take
place in the short term. Mr. Nakajima stated that information from the feasibility study is needed in order to conclude
aspects of the educational plan for the building. and suggested that explicit checkpoints be built into the process whereby
various components and findings are reviewed and reassessed. Ms. Hazzard summarized the school committee discussion
and directive for the district to move forward in requesting funds to complete the feasibility study with contingencies for
natural checkpoints and revisions/reassessment throughout the process with acknowledgement that the full amount of
requested funds are not utilized up front and may be interrupted for reason at any necessary checkpoint. Unanimous
member decision (rather than a vote) to move forward with the request for funds to complete the feasibility study.
B. SuperKids Follow-Up
Dr. Morris summarized historical concerns regarding illustration changes to the characters of SuperKids and Superkids
active response to and with district staff. Dr. Morris discussed examples and benefits of said collaborative process:
highlighting awareness in curriculum areas outside of Superkids (i.e., art); acknowledgement that advocacy works; systemic
analysis has resulted in serious and authentic dialogue which has in turn promoted positive changes in curriculum. Mr.
Nakajima shared continued concern specific to the eye shape of characters Lily and Fritz. Ms. Douangmany-Cage stated
that she is grateful for the process to date and expressed a desire for the opportunity to delve deeper and provide
additional feedback.
C. FY17 Third Quarter Budget Update (moved ahead of Superkids update on the agenda)
DOCUMENT: Amherst Public School District FY17 Third Quarter Budget Update
The Amherst Public Schools budget is on track to finish with a surplus after nine months of the year. Ms. Ordonez inquired
about the figures (savings) associated with staff turnover. Mr. Mangano clarified that the positions were replaced, with less
expensive teacher/staff. Mr. Demling inquired as to the amount of money which has been returned to the Town annually
over the last several years. Mr. Mangano indicated an annual estimate of between zero and $50,000 that is returned to the
D. Policy Vote: Students--Protection of Undocumented Students
This item was tabled because the Regional School Committee has not yet approved the policy.
E. Superintendent’s Evaluation Process
DOCUMENT: Superintendent’s Performance Goals--Amherst; Massachusetts Model System for Educator Evaluation Part
III: Guide to Rubrics and Model Rubrics for Superintendent, Administrator and Teacher
Ms. Hazzard cited a recent email sent to school committee members via Debbie Westmoreland, indicating that (at the
School Committee retreat) members recommended that Superintendent goals be linked to the indicators and elements
from the rubric (3C1, 3A2, 4C1). Plan: School Committee members to clarify the document at next meeting.
F. Accept Gifts
DOCUMENT: Memo to the Amherst School Committee from Jill Berry, District Treasurer, Dated April 20, 2017
Mr. Nakajima moved to accept $100 from the Fort River Parent Council for an art gift and $1,750 from the ARPS PGO Inc.
DBA Wildwood PGO for the Wildwood Principal’s discretion. The motion was seconded by Ms. Douangmany-Cage and
passed with unanimous approval.
5. School Committee Planning 10:46p.m
Ms. Hazzard will request Monday May 8th from Town Meeting. Ms. Westmoreland will send a doodle poll to members
regarding next meeting date.
6. Adjourn 10:47 p.m.
Mr. Nakajima moved to adjourn. Mr. Demling seconded. Motion to adjourn unanimously passed.
Respectfully Submitted,
Wendy Bloomenthal
Amherst School Committee Meeting
Monday, May 1, 2017
Library, Amherst Regional High School
Phoebe Hazzard, Chair Mike Morris, Interim Superintendent
Peter Demling Debbie Westmoreland, Recorder
Anastasia Ordonez Public and Press
Eric Nakajima
Vira Douangmany-Cage
1. Call to Order and Approve Minutes 6:00 p.m.
Ms. Hazzard called the meeting to order at 6:00 p.m.
2. Public Comment 6:00 p.m.
There were no public comments.
3. New and Continuing Business 6:01 p.m.
A. Update from 4/28/17 Joint Capital Planning Committee (JCPC) Meeting
DOCUMENT: Feasibility Process/Schematic Design Process Outline
As the new Chair, Ms. Hazzard reviewed the School Committee guidelines for deliberation. She then outlined the plan for
discussing the update from the JCPC meeting last week. The update began with a discussion of the feasibility study with Dr.
Morris distributing and reviewing an outline of the feasibility/schematic design process. He reviewed the steps in the
feasibility process, outlined on the left side of the document, which covers a period of 16-20 months at a cost of
approximately $250,000. The schematic design process would last between 8 to 12 months at a cost of roughly $475,000.
Dr. Morris then shared his recommendation based on discussion at the JCPC meeting. He noted that he recommends
moving forward with the feasibility process, which would yield three options for moving forward that the Town can
consider. Ms. Hazzard noted that her sense from JCPC was that they felt comfortable supporting the feasibility process
since it will provide a road map with a clear path moving forward. She also supports the idea of going to Town Meeting
with a request for the $250,000 to fund the feasibility process. Mr. Nakajima agreed, noting that the process outlined will
provide a strong community engagement opportunity and a clear set of deliverables. Ms. Ordonez noted that the process
outlined better reflects concerns raised by the community. She asked if it is expected that the feasibility process will take a
year and a half or if there are ways to speed up the process. Dr. Morris noted that the projected length was an estimate,
and it is conceivable that we may be able to move a little more quickly. He said the community engagement will need to be
re-energized from the previous process. Mr. Demling stated that he likes that there is a natural point at which the town can
vote to move forward or not at the end of the feasibility process and the potential beginning of the schematic design
process. Ms. Douangmany Cage noted that this seems to be something JCPC is comfortable supporting, and she
appreciates that the process outline includes “significant staff and community input” in the schematic design process. She
expressed her desire to ensure that renovation is considered as a possibility along with new buildings. Mr. Demling noted
that he sees this process as being completely de-coupled from the previous process and the School Committee will be
looking at it with fresh eyes. He said that renovation will absolutely be considered and no predetermined outcome is set by
the School Committee. Mr. Nakajima noted that what Mr. Demling’s said cannot be stated too often as the process moves
forward. Vince O’Connor, community member, spoke about what the owner’s project manager would contribute to the
School Committee as far as information about a potential project. He encouraged the School Committee to consider nontechnical
issues with the OPM and Superintendent such as whether there should be a preschool program or an afterschool
program. After discussion, Ms. Ordonez moved that the School Committee recommend Article 15B of the annual town
meeting warrant in the amount of $250,000 for the purpose of examining site and building feasibility and schematic design
options for Fort River School including: site, structural, and environmental analysis; implementation of a community
engagement process; formation of a school building committee; development of an education program; selection of an
Owner’s Project Manager (OPM); initial schematic drawings of selected preferred options; and initial schematic designs and
independent cost estimates of those designs. Ms. Ordonez will speak to the article on behalf of the School Committee.
Mr. Demling seconded and the motion was unanimously approved.
Ms. Hazzard noted that JCPC voted to ask Town Meeting to authorize the full $500,000 to replace the boiler at Wildwood.
She noted that, due to the procurement process and the requirements to remediate the issues in order to install the new
boiler, it cannot be in place until fall of 2018. If there is a decision to build a new building, it is anticipated that 
approximately 25% of the cost will be able to be recovered. Mr. Nakajima noted that a new or very substantially renovated
building is likely to take seven or eight years to complete. He said it strains credulity to think the Wildwood boiler can last
that long. Ms. Ordonez asked how we know that the amount of funds needed is $500,000. Dr. Morris explained that Mr.
Bohonowicz, Facilities Director, had the boiler evaluated and that was the estimate based on the design elements and the
physical boiler. Ms. Douangmany Cage asked when we would find out if Wildwood was accepted into the MSBA process if
we submit in 2018. Dr. Morris noted that we will likely find out in the winter of 2019. Mr. Demling then moved that the
School Committee recommend the Elementary Schools Article 15A of the Annual Town Meeting warrant: Capital Program—
Bond Authorization in the amount of $500,000 for replacing the boiler and making associated repairs at the Wildwood
Elementary School. Mr. Demling will speak to the article at Town Meeting. Mr. Nakajima seconded and the motion was
unanimously approved. Ms. Hazzard asked Ms. Ordonez and Mr. Demling to send the statements they plan to make to the
other members of the committee. Feedback should be sent to Ms. Westmoreland, who will get it to Mr. Demling and Ms.
Mr. Nakajima then moved that the School Committee recommend the elementary schools section of Article 9 of the Annual
Town Meeting warrant: Amherst Elementary Schools Operating Budget. Ms. Hazzard will speak to the Article on behalf of
the School Committee. Ms. Douangmany Cage seconded and the motion was unanimously approved. Dr. Morris noted
that he will also be speaking to the two operating budgets for the Amherst and Regional schools. Ms. Hazzard noted that
there is currently a $70,000 request for the Fort River roof, but Mr. Bohonowicz recommends reducing it to $20,000 if the
feasibility process is approved by Town Meeting. Ms. Ordonez requested that Dr. Morris reach out to the architects to
ensure that the reduction in funds is prudent. Mr. Demling asked if the Committee has a desire for the Charter Commission
to invite them to another one of their meetings before they finalize their recommendation regarding the make-up of the
School Committee. The committee agreed that they would like to attend another meeting, so Ms. Hazzard will reach out to
the Charter Commission.
6. Adjourn 7:02 p.m.
Mr. Nakajima moved to adjourn at 7:02 p.m. Ms. Ordonez seconded and the motion was unanimously approved.
Respectfully Submitted,
Debbie Westmoreland
Serving Amherst, Pelham and the Amherst-Pelham Region
170 CHESTNUT STREET 413-549-6108 (FAX)
In an effort to continually improve our schools, we would appreciate your responses to several questions listed
below. Please return this survey (adapted from a similar survey given in Northampton) in the enclosed selfaddress
stamped envelope.
1. Which charter school does your child(ren) attend:
 Hilltown
2. What grade is your child(ren) currently in?
 Kindergarten
 Grade 1
 Grade 2
 Grade 3
 Grade 4
 Grade 5
 Grade 6
 Grade 7
 Grade 8
 Grade 9
 Grade 10
 Grade 11
 Grade 12
3. Did you ever visit an Amherst-Pelham Regional School before deciding to send your child(ren) to a
charter school?
 Yes
 No
4. Did your child(ren) ever attend a public school within the Amherst-Pelham Regional School District?
 Yes
 No
5. In which grade(s) did your child(ren) attend an Amherst-Pelham Regional public school?
 Kindergarten
 Grade 1
 Grade 2
 Grade 3
 Grade 4
 Grade 5
 Grade 6
 Grade 7
 Grade 8
 Grade 9
 Grade 10
 Grade 11
 Grade 12
6. Which Amherst-Pelham Regional public school did your child(ren) attend?
 Crocker Farm Elementary
 Fort River Elementary
 Wildwood Elementary
 Pelham Elementary
 Amherst Regional Middle School
 Amherst Regional High School
 South East Campus School
7. If your child(ren) had not been admitted to the charter school currently attended, what would you have
done in terms of your child(ren)’s education?
 Attend Amherst-Pelham Regional Schools
 Attend private school
 Attend another charter school
 Attend another public school through choice program
 Homeschool
8. How likely is it that you will send your child(ren) to an Amherst-Pelham Regional Public School at some
time in the future?
 More than likely
 Somewhat likely
 Possible, but unlikely
 Not at all likely
Please rank each of the following factors as to their impact on your decision to send your child(ren) to a
charter school rather than the Amherst-Pelham Regional Schools.
9. The school that we chose offers services, classes or a curriculum that was uniquely suited for our child.
 Major
 Somewhat
 Minor
 Not at All
If you answered “Major”, what is the specific service, class, or curriculum that the school offered?
10. We were concerned that the size of the classes or school was too large and wanted a smaller learning
environment for our child(ren).
 Major
 Somewhat
 Minor
 Not at All
11. It was less about the local public school our child would have attended and more about hearing good
things about the charter school we chose.
 Major
 Somewhat
 Minor
 Not at All
12. We were concerned about the physical infrastructure of the Amherst-Pelham Regional Schools.
 Major
 Somewhat
 Minor
 Not at All
13. The charter school we chose seems to have more children learning at a higher level.
 Major
 Somewhat
 Minor
 Not at All
14. We were concerned about budget cuts and the threat of cutting programs like the arts in the AmherstPelham
Regional Schools.
 Major
 Somewhat
 Minor
 Not at All
15. We visited an Amherst-Pelham Regional School and came away unimpressed.
 Major
 Somewhat
 Minor
 Not at All
16. We wanted our child to be academically challenged and the Amherst-Pelham Regional Schools did not
offer a sufficiently advanced and challenging curriculum for more academically gifted students.
 Major
 Somewhat
 Minor
 Not at All
17. We were concerned about bullying and/or the physical or emotional safety of our child(ren) in the
Amherst-Pelham Regional Schools.
 Major
 Somewhat
 Minor
 Not at All
18. We had anticipated, heard of, or personally experienced too many behavioral problems among students
in the classrooms of the Amherst-Pelham Regional Schools.
 Major
 Somewhat
 Minor
 Not at All
19. We were concerned about the emphasis on testing in the Amherst-Pelham Regional Schools.
 Major
 Somewhat
 Minor
 Not at All
20. We felt there was more accountability for teacher performance in charter schools.
 Major
 Somewhat
 Minor
 Not at All
21. We have friends/neighbors who are sending their children to the same school we have chosen.
 Major
 Somewhat
 Minor
 Not at All
22. We were concerned about the Amherst-Pelham Regional Schools’ MCAS test results.
 Major
 Somewhat
 Minor
 Not at All
Comments: Please use the space below if you want to share more specific details about why you opted to send
your child(ren) to a charter school instead of the Amherst-Pelham Regional Schools.
May 12, 2017
To: Amherst School Committee
From: Debbie Westmoreland, Assistant to the Superintendent
RE: Clerical/Media Awards
After meeting to review the nominations, I am pleased to report that the Clerical/Media
Award Sub-committee recommends that the Amherst School Committee vote to approve
$500 merit awards for the following members of Unit B:
Heather Poirier—Special Education Secretary, Crocker Farm and Wildwood
Georgia Malcolm—Administrative Assistant, Wildwood (1/2 year)/Pelham (1/2 year)
Action Required—Vote Needed
Motion: In accordance with the Unit B employee contract, the Amherst School
Committee approves clerical/media merit awards in the amount of $500 each for Heather
Poirier and Georgia Malcolm.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (hereafter referred to as ICE) personnel, or employees of
any other agency acting as immigration agents, will be refused entry to District property or access
to students in the Districts’ custody unless the Superintendent and District Counsel are provided
with a warrant signed by a judge or magistrate authorizing the immigration agent’s entry onto the
property. Existing District practice requires all visitors to state the reason for their visit and be
cleared for entry into a space with students. Consistent with that practice, any ICE employee, or
employee of any other agency acting as immigration agents (hereafter referred to as agent,
regardless of agency affiliation), intending to enter any Amherst, Pelham or Amherst-Pelham Public
Schools’ property must first notify the Superintendent of their intention, and provide copies of a
warrant signed by a judge or magistrate so the Superintendent can take steps to provide for the
emotional and physical safety of students and staff. The Superintendent will consult with the
General Counsel when ICE attempts to enter District Property.
In addition to receiving a warrant, the superintendent and/or General Counsel will ask for the
agent’s credentials, ask the agent why/ he she is requesting access, and ask the agent what evidence
of reasonable suspicion exists via a warrant. Schools have heretofore been considered a sensitive
location by government agencies (see ICE Policy Number 10029.2: Enforcement Actions at or
Focused on Sensitive Locations); therefore, the district requires written authorization from the
agency’s authorizing official for any interviews on school property. The Superintendent will notify
the student that he or she is free to refuse to answer ICE’s questions and will notify the
parents/guardians of the warrant.
Amherst, Pelham and Amherst-Pelham Regional Public Schools staff will not refer students or
families to ICE if they inadvertently or intentionally disclose their immigration status. Pursuant to
FERPA and state records law, Amherst, Pelham and Amherst-Pelham Regional Public
Schools staff shall not disclose, without parental consent, the immigration status of any student.
If a representative of ICE, or any agency acting as immigration agents, contacts the schools or
District offices regarding any individual student(s), school personnel shall immediately contact the
student(s)’ parent/guardian and share contact information for appropriate support groups or
SEE ALSO: JIH: Interrogations and Searches
KI: Visitors and Public Access to Students
Resource Guide: Supporting Undocumented Youth (Massachusetts Department of
Elementary and Secondary Education
ICE Policy Number 10029.2: Enforcement Actions at or Focused on Sensitive
Region: 5/2/17
May 12, 2017
To: Amherst School Committee
From: Debbie Westmoreland, Assistant to the Superintendent
RE: Donations to Students for the Summer Programs
Each year there are students who enroll in the various elementary summer programs who
are in need of items in order to fully participate (for example, swimsuits, towels, etc.).
These items, or monetary donations to purchase such items, are received from generous
donors as the need arises. In order to most expeditiously accept such donations, we
request that the School Committee move to approve these gifts ahead of time. The
suggested wording for your vote is included below.
VOTE: The Amherst-Pelham Regional School Committee moves to accept any and all
donations of supplies and monetary gifts in support of student needs for full participation
in summer programs for the summer of 2017.


Production Date: 
Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Amherst School Committee

The Amherst School Committee is responsible for the operations of the elementary schools, Pre-K to 6, which serve students from the Town of Amherst. These schools include Crocker Farm, Fort River, Marks Meadow, and Wildwood.