District Reshaping Public Schools

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The Amherst Regional Public Schools (ARPS) are engaging in THREE (3!) major projects that may reshape the landscape of public schools in Amherst. It is critical that ARPS hear from parents about these projects, and how they might affect your kids!  The Wildwood PGO takes no position on any of these options.  Individual members of the PGO Board can and do express their personal beliefs, but these are not meant to be representative of the PGO or Wildwood collectively.

We are gathering here the key links, public documentation, and events relating to each of these projects –

  • Elementary School Building Project (aka the “Wildwood Building Project” aka the “Elementary School Consolidation”), which is proposing to close Wildwood and Fort River, build a large 750-student school for grades 2-6, and convert Crocker Farm to a K-1.
  • Elementary Regionalization – Bringing Shutesbury and Leverett into the Amherst / Pelham school district; and
  • Middle / High School Consolidation – Closing the Amherst Regional Middle School, and consolidating it with the Amherst Regional High School.

Elementary School Building Project (aka the “Wildwood Building Project’)

What it is:  Proposal to get Massachusetts state money to “rebuild” Wildwood.  The catch is, it’s not just about Wildwood — of the three proposals, the District has selected to recommend to completely revamp the elementary school system, convert Crocker Farm to a K-1 school, and build a new school that would be 2-6.

The three options originally in the proposal to the State (the MSBA) were: (1) Renovate & add to Wildwood. (But the concern is this wouldn’t solve the fundamental building problems with Fort River.) (2) Build a new Wildwood and tear down (or re-purpose) the current Wildwood, somewhere, not necessarily at the Wildwood site. (The concern is this wouldn’t solve the similar problems with Fort River.) (3) Restructure all the Amherst Elementary Schools, tear down or repurpose BOTH Wildwood & Fort River, and build a new LARGE (750-student) school.

As of October 17, the District had collapsed the options into  (1) Reconfigure all Amherst Elementary Schools, to a K-1 (at Crocker) and a 2-6 (in a new building); (2) Reconfigure all Amherst Elementary Schools, in a slightly different configuration (different at the new 2-6 building and/or different at Crocker Farm); and (3) Renovate / addition or new building for Wildwood.

At the September 29, 2015, public forum, the District suggested that all options were on the table. In mid-October, District staff began confirming verbally that they planned to recommend a “grade reconfiguration” for all of Amherst.

SchoolBuildingProject-20150929-Slide11

Important Dates: 

  • October 20, 2015, 6pm, Amherst High School – The District makes public for the first time its recommendation to “reconfigure” the Amherst elementary schools, to the School Committee in a public meeting.
  • Nov. 17 (Tue.) – School Committee voted to approve the “Educational Plan.”  (rescheduled from 11/3). See
  • Jan. 19 (Tue) 2016 – Amherst School Committee voting on grade configuration options.
  • November 2016 – Town will vote on debt limit override (majority vote needed).
  • November 2016 – Town Meeting votes on the recommendations (2/3 vote needed).
  • 2016 / 2017 – Massachusetts (MSBA) decides whether to give the funds or not.
  • March 27, 2016 – “Feasibility Study” window ends.
  • 2017 – Construction begins on Wildwood site, over existing “metal” playground.
  • 2019 Fall – New Building Opens and Wildwood 2d – 5th graders move in.  K-1st graders location TBD.
  • Source: SASS Timeline

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Regionalization

What it is: Proposal to merge administration of Amherst, Leverett, Pelham, and Shutesbury School Districts.

Important Dates:

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Middle / High School Consolidation

What it is:  Proposal to merge the Middle School and High Schools.

Important Dates:

  • “Community Listening Sessions” – List of sessions from ARPS.  (10/15 Shutesbury; 10/19 Amherst Regional High School)
  • Nov. 7 – Hurricane Revisioning Summit (for Middle/High Consolidation), 9:00 AM – 3:00 PM, ARMS

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