Share your thoughts and help Amherst create an economic development strategy

toaAmherst has begun the process of creating an economic development strategy. The town has engaged the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission as consultants to report on key economic indicators, an analysis of the retail market, and strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT) analysis. Amherst residents are invited to share feedback and have their ideas incorporated in the final SWOT analysis by filling out three surveys. The surveys can be found: here.

Thank you for giving!

logo_valleygivesThank you to all Wildwood families for helping make this year’s Valley Gives fundraising campaign a great success. Together, you donated a total of $3,610 – between online and brown envelope donations – exceeding the goal of $3,000!  Through your continued support, the PGO is able to fund curriculum enrichment events and activities, and support our incredibly dedicated teachers and staff. Go, Wildwood!

Fort River School Building Committee Seeking Architectural Design Team

For More Information, Contact:

Jonathan Salvon, Fort River School Building Committee, Chair

fortriversbc@amherstma.gov

On May 2, the Fort River School Building Committee released a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) for the Fort River Elementary School Feasibility Study. The Building Committee will receive applications from architectural design teams interested in working with the Committee to provide the Amherst community with options for a Pre-K through 6thgrade school on the Fort River site and the estimated costs of those preliminary design options. The Building Committee’s work will conclude with the delivery of these options to the Amherst School Committee.

The awarded design team will analyze the Fort River site and school building and propose options for at least three feasible designs. The committee will ask the design team to give the community options that span a range of building costs, operating and maintenance costs, and environmental impacts of both initial construction and continuing operations of the building. The committee and design team will also consider how potential design solutions will affect the operations of the school during the construction of such a project. Renovation, addition, partial or complete demolition, and new construction will all be explored.

The successful design team will work with the building committee in a collaborative, iterative design process over an anticipated 6 months. During this process, the Amherst community will be invited to participate in public forums at three milestones to learn about the design processes and offer feedback.

An indoor air quality assessment of the existing building was recently conducted by ATC Group Services from West Springfield, MA.  Results are expected to be available in June.

Community engagement with the Building Committee’s work will include public access to the committee’s website (www.amherstma.gov/frsbc), that provides access to meeting agendas, minutes, and documents; a binder located in the circulation section of the Jones Library; an e-mail address to receive public comment (fortriversbc@amherstma.gov​); an e-mail list serve; public forums; and scheduled press releases. We welcome feedback on all of these strategies.

Wildwood/ARPS Important Dates

Welcome Wildwood STARS

  • May 1 -Valley Gives Fundraiser
  • May 5 – First WW Tag sale/Car wash (rain date May 6)
  • May 9 – Early Release, 1:20PM dismissal for WW students
  • May 28 – Memorial Day, No school

Important Links / Hiperenlaces importantes

MCBA MakerSpace Play Day 2017 was a hit!

Thank you to all our VOLUNTEERS and our incredibly creative STUDENTS for a great MCBA MAKERSPACE PLAY DAY!

There were over 60 STUDENT MADE games to PLAY in 6 spaces! 130 students participated in this HUGE event!

Please watch the recap and our student reflections on the process:
1. Read an MCBA Mashup Book
2. Design and Plan a game or an activity to go with the BOOK.
3. Build it.
4. Play it with others!

Details at: https://sites.google.com/a/arps.org/wildwoodlibrary/blog/mcbamakerspaceplayday2017wasahit

Important: Survey on Proposed Elimination of Stops along PVTA Route 43 Bus

Wildwood Families, if you use the B43 bus, please answer this important survey, especially if you are someone who relies on it to do things like shopping or getting to medical appointments in between Amherst and Northampton. MassDOT is considering cutting some stops to make it an Express, and routing the bus up 116 to Haigis Mall at UMass and back again, not going through the center of Amherst.

Results from this survey, which will be shared with the DOT and PVTA to help inform their strategy regarding the proposed changes to bus service on Route 9.  This survey will take approximately two minutes to complete, and the deadline for responding is next Wednesday, Dec. 20. Members of our community who regularly make use of the PVTA’s B43 service should take special note of this opportunity to communicate with the DOT.

Members Sought for the Fort River School Building Committee

At their September 25th meeting, the Amherst School Committee approved the mission statement (available here) for the Fort River  School Building Committee.  The committee also voted to include the following voting members on the Fort River School Building Committee:
  • Fort River Principal or Designee
  • Fort River Teacher
  • Fort River Staff Member
  • Facilities Director or Designee
  • School Committee Member
  • Special Education Parent Advisory Council (SEPAC) Designee
  • Fort River PGO Appointee
  • Town Finance Representative
  • Community Member with Green Energy Expertise and Architectural Background
  • At-Large Parent/Guardian/CaregiverAt-Large Community Member #1
    At-Large Community Member #2

In addition, the committee voted to formalize their commitment to having a minimum of 50% of the voting membership of the School Building Committee composed of women and persons of color.

Community members are encouraged to complete the application available here for the following positions:  1) Community Member with Green Energy Expertise and Architectural Background; 2) At-Large Parent/Guardian/Caregiver; 3) At-Large Community Member (2 positions).

The deadline for applications is 12:00 Noon on Friday, October 13. All applications will be considered; however, preference may be given to women and people of color, parents/guardians/caregivers, and those with Amherst town government experience.

Wildwood Yearbook & Tees, order by Friday, June 9

Last Chance to order Wildwood T-shirts and 2017 Wildwood Yearbooks! Order forms were sent home with your student or can be found in the WW office.  Please be sure to return the forms and payment by Friday June 9th.

The 2016/17 Wildwood School Yearbook is filled with pictures of all the students and memories of this year at Wildwood, in beautiful full color!

Order deadline: June 9th
Cost: $8 (families may request a confidential free copy)
View Order Form (also in backpacks): WW Yearbook ORDER FORM 2017 (1)

The Wildwood Yearbook is a parent produced, all volunteer project.

Incoming PGO Officers, thanks in advance!

Thanks to those who attended Wednesday’s PGO meeting, and a very special thanks to those parents stepping up into PGO leadership. As Dr. Morris expressed in his weekly newsletter, “You do amazing work on behalf of our students and your support means so much to the all of our faculty, staff and administrators.”

Co-Chairs: Kerry Crosby and Sheilah Jones
Treasurer: Toni Cunningham
Volunteer Coordinator: Becky Miller
Fundraising Coordinator: Irene Dujovne
Secretary: Lisa Berry
Blog Communications: Anita Rao
Yearbook: Susan Wells and Jenny Haugsjaahabink
School Directory: Susan Wells and Jenny Haugsjaahabink
Class Parent Liason: Becky Gahan

Thank Teachers with a gift to AEF, June 15

The school year is almost over, and now is the time we begin thinking about how to thank our teachers for a terrific year. What better way to thank them than to give a gift in their name to the Amherst Education Foundation? AEF has provided more than $400,000 in grants to our public schools over the last 24 years.

I have had the good fortune to be honored by parents and members of the Amherst community through their “STARS in our Schools” donations to AEF.  When making their donations, parents and relatives have commented specifically that they see their children singing with joy and self confidence and that they have an appreciation for music of different world cultures. It is deeply satisfying to know that what we do in the schools gets carried out into the community.”

Fort River Music Teacher Anne Louise White

AEF provides an easy way for you to make a meaningful donation to your child’s teacher(s) by going to www.amhersteducationfoundation.org and clicking on “Stars in Our Schools.”  You can donate to more than one teacher in one easy transaction! Or send a check with a note identifying the teacher(s), the school, and who is giving the donation to our mailing address at: PO Box 1363, Amherst, MA 01004.

In order for your teacher to receive a star, please make your donation by June 15.

View: AEF Stars flyer 2017

Free Book for Children who visit LWV Book Sale on 7/26/17

The League of Women Voters is planning a “young readers day” at their annual book sale on July 26, 2017 from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Each young reader may choose one free book that day. The book sale will also be held on July 28-30 and August 4-6, from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. The sale will be at the Fort River Elementary School Gymnasium, 70 South East Street. Children must be accompanied by an adult. Books will be priced at 50 cents, $1 or $2. Please visit http://www.lwvamherst.org for more information.

Wahoo! The Valley Gave to Wildwood, $3,190.00

The 4th annual Valley Gives Day was a great success for Wildwood. Here’s the latest tally:

31 Cash Donations – $279
27 Check Donations – $1910
14 Online Donations – $920 raised (fees may come off the top of this)

Total: 72 Donors raised $3,109

Average Donation $43
Huge shout out of thanks to Lisa Berry, Sara Eggemeier, Toni Cunningham and Gretchen Dwyer for their help on this. We couldn’t have done it without you!

Post-Building Project Presentation, 5/5

Please join us on Friday, May 5th from 12:00-1:00pm in the Green Room at Wildwood School for a  Post-Building Project Presentation with Interim Superintendent Michael Morris

Dr Morris will discuss the post-school vote challenges that our school districts face – Financial, Enrollment, and Infrastructure – followed by a question and answer period.

If mornings work better, Wildwood families are welcome to attend the same presentation by Dr Morris at Crocker Farm Elementary School on Friday 5th May from 9:00-10:15am.

View Flyer in Spanish

View Flyer in English

 

MCAS Testing Dates

MCAS testing has begun. Remaining test dates as follows:

  • ELA MCAS: Grade 6 on May 2.
  • Math MCAS: Grade 5–May 11, 12; Grade 6–May 18,19; Grades 3 and 4–May 23,24.
  • Science MCAS: Grade 5–May 16 and 17.

Amherst Sustainability Festival This Weekend

Saturday April 22, 10 AM – 4 PM on the TOWN COMMON

Join us for a day of family fun, education and entertainment. The Sustainability Festival is in its eighth year and is bigger and better than ever! There is literally something for everyone with over 100 vendors of renewable energy, energy efficiency product suppliers, advocacy groups as well as sustainable crafts and artisans!

Schedule of Stage Performances:

10 AM – Under the Tree Music

11 AM – Chris Scanlon and the Other Guys

Noon – Tuff Riddim International

1 PM – Valley Women Drummers

2 PM – Luke DeRoy Trio

3 PM – Piti Theatre Company

TAKE A SPIN ON THE ORBITRON!

Demo Workshops:

     11 AM – David Lovler “Grow, Save and Eat Beans: Complete the Garden Protein Cycle Noon – Megan Brockelbank “Heathy Gluten Free and Sugar Alternatives in Cooking and Baking” 1 PM – Shoshona King “How to Make ‘Plarn’” 2 PM – Emma Hayes – “Growing Wine Caps and Allying with the Fungal Kingdom”

ELECTRIC VEHICLES ON DISPLAY – CENTER COMMON – CHECK OUT TESLA MODELS X and MODELS S!    

FACE PAINTING Noon – 3 PM

THE ‘CLIMATE TRANSFORMER’ – NEW THIS YEAR – FEATURED CENTER COMMON! An interactive art installation and exhibit

Don’t forget to bring your clean, used, dry clothing and textiles for the annual Textile Drive sponsored by the Amherst Recycling and Refuse Management Committee! The drop off will be located on Boltwood Avenue across from the Lord Jeff Inn.

5 Recycling Collections this year!:
1. Pellet bags 
2. Large Styrofoam chunks (no peanuts)
3. Textiles (No pillows, rugs or carpets please!)
4. Cell Phones and Accessories (working and non-working)
5. Computers and related equipment (printers, laptops, scanners, faxes and modems)

Single-use Plastic Bag Turn-In:
Bring your single-use plastic bags to the festival and turn them in for a really cool reusable folding nylon bag! Turn-in located at the Recycling Booth.

View Flyer

MCAS Testing Dates

MCAS testing has begun.

Grades 3 and 4 have their ELA MCAS on April 25, 26 and 27. Grade 6 will take their ELA MCAS on April 28 and May 2. Grade 5 tested on April 4-6.

Math MCAS dates are as follows: Grade 5–May 11, 12, Grade 6–May 18,19 Grades 3 and 4–May 23,24. The fifth grade also has MCAS Science tests on May 16 and 17.

Amherst School Building Project Update

March 30, 2017

To:       The Amherst Public School District staff and administration and the Amherst community,

From:  Phoebe Hazzard, Amherst School Committee Vice-Chair and Dr. Michael Morris, Interim Superintendent

While the proposed new schools building project failed to achieve a two-thirds majority in Tuesday’s referendum vote, our district will continue to move forward and plan for ways to ensure that our schools remain the best teaching and learning environments possible for our students and staff. There is no question that there was a wide range of opinions and feelings about the project in our small community. But the rigorous and passionate debate leading up to the vote reinforced how deeply our community cares about our elementary schools. And, the activity around the referendum has sparked an upswell in civic involvement, with many district parents now engaging as elected participants in our local democratic system.

Though provocative, the conversation around the proposed building project has also made our community increasingly aware of persistent issues that educators, administrators, and school committees have been grappling with for years, particularly the challenging physical environment of the Fort River and Wildwood buildings, uneven socio-economic distribution of our families, lack of affordable preschool, and fiscal challenges. Our educators work every day to provide our children with outstanding educational experiences despite a challenging teaching environment. These problems remain unresolved, and as we move forward we must be committed to continuing to consider how to address them in the most fiscally responsible and timely manner possible.

The Amherst School Committee will hold its next public meeting on April 25th at 6:00 p.m., at which we will likely discuss next steps. Interim Superintendent Dr. Morris will move forward with requests for the town to fund the outstanding capital repairs needed at Fort River and Wildwood, beginning with $500,000 to replace the Wildwood boiler. The district will also request $115,000 to conduct a site and building assessment at the Fort River School to inform discussion about the future potential of that site.

As we begin this next chapter, we’d like to express a sincere thank you to the members of the School Building Committee for their hundreds of hours of work on the proposed school buildings project.

Community Conversation – Learn about the threat to the safety net

A Community Conversation in collaboration with the Amherst League of Women Voters.

Wednesday, April 5, 6:30pm-8pm at the Amherst Survival Center, 138 Sunderland Road, North Amherst on the #33 bus

Presenters:
Michael Knapik, Director of Governor Baker’s Western MA Regional Office
Keith Barnicle, Regional Manager for Congressman Jim McGovern
Michelle Geoffroy, Advocacy, the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts

SEPAC Meeting 3/20

Please consider attending an informal meeting to connect with others. A light dinner will be provided, so an RSVP would be helpful! 
When:  Monday, March 20th 6:00pm-7:00pm
Where:  Amherst Regional Middle School, Professional Development Room
From 6:00 pm-6:30 pm:  We will have an opportunity to connect with some candidates running for school committee.
From 6:30 pm-7:00 pm:  We will continue to explore ways we can support each other in the community.  Dr. Brady and SEPAC board will also be in attendance.
Again, please RSVP if possible to sepac@arps.org or 413-687-4255.
____________________________

Invitación de la Junta Consultiva de Padres de Educación Especial

Por favor, considere asistir a una reunión informal para conectar con los demás. Se ofrecerá una cena ligera, por lo que una confirmación de su asistencia sería de gran ayuda!

Cuándo: Lunes, 20 de marzo 6:00 pm-7:00 pm
Dónde: Amherst Regional Middle School, Salón de Desarrollo Profesional

De 6:00 pm -6:30 pm: Tendremos la oportunidad de conectar con algunos candidatos que corren para el Comité Escolar.

De 6:30 pm-7:00 pm: Continuaremos explorando maneras en que podemos apoyarnos mutuamente en la comunidad. El Dr. Brady y la junta de SEPAC también estarán presentes.

Una vez más, por favor confirme su asistencia si es posible sepac@arps.org o 413-687-4255.

Overdue Amnesty at Jones Library

It’s a Great Time to Return Overdue Library Materials!
The Jones Library and branches will be offering an amnesty period from January 9 – 31, 2017 for library patrons who return overdue library materials.  Library patrons are encouraged to bring a non-perishable, non-expired food donation for the Amherst Survival Center when they return overdue library materials during this time.
“This is a great opportunity for patrons with long-overdue library materials to get those items back to the library without having to pay the fines that are accumulating,” says Amy Anaya, Head of Borrower Services at the Jones Library.  It’s important to note that the amnesty applies only to items that are being returned during this time.  It will not be possible to forgive existing overdue fines on items that have already been returned, or for billed or lost items.
The food collected will support the work of the Amherst Survival Center, a local service agency that assists many in our community in meeting their basic needs.
For further information about returning overdue items, please contact Amy Anaya at 413/259-3132.

Letter to the Community

THE AMHERST-REGIONAL PUBLIC SCHOOLS Serving Amherst, Pelham and the Amherst-Pelham Region OFFICE OF THE SUPERINTENDENT 413-362-1810 (PHONE) 170 CHESTNUT STREET 413-549-6108 (FAX) AMHERST, MA 01002 November 9, 2016

Dear Amherst-Pelham Regional and Northampton Communities:

Today, many students came to school expressing feelings about the Presidential Election in our similar school communities. Some indicated that they were in need of support or that they are concerned for their friends. In general, our response has been to provide instructional routines which benefit students; to reassure students that our districts do not tolerate discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex, gender identity, religion, disability, national origin, sexual orientation, economic status, or ethnic background; and to provide additional support from our mental health teams. Additionally, our staff has facilitated dialogue and guided discussions about the election as students have raised the topic to make classrooms safe for all students to discuss their viewpoints regardless of their reaction to the election.

We are aware that there is a range of opinions and emotions from many individuals in our communities. Our talented staff will continue to be sensitive to students who express concerns about the election results and will partner with students and families to support them in whatever way is needed.

If you feel that your child would benefit from additional support or a check-in based on what you are seeing at home, please let your child’s teacher know and we will ensure that this support is offered. We are fully committed to maintaining our districts as safe places for all students to learn and interact with others in their school community.

A helpful video about talking to your children about the results can be found here: https://goo.gl/mYIdxL If you have any questions, please let us know.

Best,

Dr. Michael Morris                                     Dr. John Provost
Interim Superintendent                              Superintendent
Amherst-Pelham Regional Schools            Northampton Public Schools

LAS ESCUELAS REGIONALES PÚBLICAS DE AMHERST Sirviendo Amherst, Pelham y la región de Amherst-Pelham OFICINA DE LA SUPERINTENDENTE 413-362-1810 (TELÉFONO) 170 CHESTNUT STREET 413-549-6108 (FAX) AMHERST, MA 01002

9 de noviembre de 2016

Estimadas Comunidades de Regionales de Amherst-Pelham y Northampton:

En el día de hoy, muchos estudiantes llegaron a la escuela expresando sentimientos acerca de la elección presidencial en nuestras comunidades escolares similares. Algunos indicaron que estaban en necesidad de apoyo y / o que estaban preocupados por sus amigos. En general, nuestra respuesta ha sido proporcionar rutinas de instrucción que benefician a los estudiantes; para asegurarle a los estudiantes que nuestros distritos no toleran la discriminación por motivos de raza, color, sexo, identidad de género, religión, discapacidad, origen nacional, orientación sexual, situación económica, o el origen étnico; y para proporcionar apoyo adicional por parte de nuestros equipos de salud mental. Además, nuestro personal ha facilitado el diálogo y guiado discusiones acerca de las elecciones, ya que los estudiantes han planteado el tema de hacer aulas seguras donde todos los estudiantes puedan discutir sus puntos de vista, independientemente de su reacción a la elección.

Estamos conscientes de que hay una gama de opiniones y emociones de muchos individuos en nuestras comunidades. Nuestro talentoso personal continuará siendo sensible a los estudiantes que expresan sus preocupaciones acerca de los resultados de las elecciones, y se asociará con los estudiantes y las familias para apoyarlos de cualquier manera que se necesiten.

Si usted siente que su hijo/a se beneficiaría de apoyo adicional o de un chequeo basado en lo que está viendo en casa, por favor déjele saber al maestro de su hijo/a y nos aseguraremos de que este apoyo se ofrezca. Estamos totalmente comprometidos a mantener a nuestros distritos lugares seguros para que todos los estudiantes aprendan e interactúen con otros en su comunidad escolar.

Un video muy útil sobre cómo hablar con sus hijos acerca de los resultados que puede encontrar en: https://goo.gl/mYIdxL Si usted tiene alguna pregunta, por favor háganoslo saber.

Los mejores deseos,

Dr. Michael Morris                                               Dr. John Provost
Superintendente Interino                                     Superintendente
Escuelas Regionales de Amherst-Pelham            Escuelas Públicas de Northampton

Amherst School Committee Vacancy Announcement from the Amherst Select Board

A vacancy on the Amherst School Committee will be filled on Thursday October 13, 2016 at a joint meeting of the Select Board and the remaining members of the Amherst School Committee. Interested candidates must submit a Letter of Interest to the Select Board office by 4:00 p.m. on Thursday, October 6, 2016.

Letters of Interest may be submitted by email to selectboard@amherstma.gov (preferred) or via hard copy to Select Board, Town Hall, 4 Boltwood Ave. Amherst MA 01002. Please include a summary of your reasons for wishing to serve on the Amherst School Committee and your qualifications and experience. All submissions will be distributed to Select Board and Amherst School Committee members as they are received, and will be available to the public on the Town web site in the Select Board’s packet materials for the October 13, 2016 meeting. Certain personal information will be redacted upon request. Please note that while candidates are
welcome to make the public aware of their interest, members of the Select Board, Amherst School Committee, and staff will not release the number of candidates, or candidate names or other identifying information, until after the Letters of Interest appear in the Select Board packet materials for the October 13, 2016 meeting.

Candidates who have submitted a Letter of Interest will need to attend the Thursday October 13, 2016 joint meeting at 5:00 p.m. The joint meeting will be held in the Town Room on the second floor of Town Hall and will be broadcast live by Amherst Media on channel 17.

Vacancies in elected Town-wide office are governed by MGL Chapter 41 Section 11. A roll call vote of both bodies is required, and at least five positive votes must be made for the selected individual, regardless of how many members of the Select Board and Amherst School Committee are present.

The person elected on October 13, 2016 will serve until the next Annual Town Election, to be held on March 28, 2017, and has the option to seek election on the Town ballot through the standard nomination process. The Amherst School Committee term that ended with resignation on September 26, 2016 will be on the March 28, 2017 Town ballot as a two year term. The new Amherst School Committee member also serves on the Amherst-Pelham Regional School Committee http://www.arps.org/administration/school_committee, and must be sworn in at the Amherst Town Clerk’s office prior to participating in meetings of either body.

If you have questions please contact Debra Puppel in the Select Board/Town Manager’s Office at 259-3001 or puppeld@amherstma.gov.

Thank You for the Stories!

With well over 100 people in attendance, yummy food and compelling tales, last night’s storytelling event with Eshu Bumpus was a great success!!! There were many people who worked hard to make it magically come together.

The PGO wishes to thank our dedicated parent volunteers, and of course, our dedicated school staff Georgia Malcolm, Jennifer Haugsjaahabink, Joyce Gooden, Linda Gianesin, Nick Yaffe and Susan Wells. We also wish to thank our generous food sponsors, Bueno Y Sano, Ginger Garden, Hillside Pizza, Osteria Vespa and Paradise of India, for their delicious food donations.

food-sponsors

As Ira Glass says, “Great stories happen to those who can tell them.” If you’d like to keep the stories flowing, below are a few helpful resources to do so:

And don’t forget to visit the Folklore and Legends section at the Wildwood Library.