Letters

Amherst School District Year End 2020 Budget

To the editor:

      As the school and fiscal year close, the Amherst School Board is reflecting on what a year it has been. When we began our year in September no one could have imagined we would end the year with remote learning and an uncertain future for the 2020-2021 school year. But despite the challenges, our administration stepped up to end the year as we always do by honoring student milestones. Our students, faculty, and administration celebrated with  drive-through ceremonies for both 4th graders and 8th graders, as well as a virtual graduation ceremony at the Amherst Middle School that reflected their typical promotion ceremony.

      2020-2021 School Year - We know all families are waiting to hear the school plans for fall.  As many of you know, Governor Sununu created a taskforce to examine the needs for a fall reopening.  That taskforce has created a document for the governor to consider in order to provide guidance to schools.  While there will be guidance and recommendations from the state house, we expect that a lot of decisions will be left up to individual districts. As such, Superintendent Steel created his own taskforce several weeks ago with several subgroups to help guide him in making his final decisions. These taskforce meetings have been recorded and are available on the SAU website and the SAU Facebook page for viewing.  Options are still being discussed. With future guidance from the Governor and continued work of the taskforce, an expected decision will be shared by August 1st.

      FY20 Budget - As we wrap up fiscal year 2020 we found that with spending cuts, COVID-19 savings, and significantly higher-than-anticipated revenue from tuition, Medicaid, and special education, the district finished the year with $1.4 million in the unreserved fund balance.  The Board voted to return $1m to taxpayers to offset next year’s tax rate and use the remaining $400,000 to replace or repair items in our schools that were not included in the capital needs assessment or had reached end of life earlier than anticipated. 

      Future Meetings - Our August and September meetings will be combined with all districts within the SAU.  We will be reviewing the budget process for the coming year, receiving a presentation regarding student assessment, and examining a number of policies that were addressed during this summer’s policy review period. We encourage you to attend these meetings as they will serve to educate all stakeholders in SAU39 during these two months. The ASB meetings will resume in October.

 

Regards,

Elizabeth Kuzsma, Chair

Tom Gauthier, Vice Chair

Ellen Grudzien, Secretary

Terri Behm

Josh Conklin

Editorial Comment

     

The Amherst School Board has finished the end of the fiscal (FY20) year with an unanticipated fund balance. 

      The Amherst School Board reports a $1.4 million dollars of unreserved fund balance.  Much of this comes from the closing of the school buildings and other adjustments as a result of the Covid 19 pandemic and increases in revenues.

      Districts always have wants and needs.  Yet, this year demonstrating restraint and good fiscal management, the school board has decided to return $1 million to the taxpayer which will lower the tax rate for all.  

      This has been a difficult time for the community.  Many families have lost jobs or seen reduced paychecks, businesses have scaled back operations, some have closed their doors and many have a wait and see approach to the future.  Community events that depend about funds from the business community have had to cancel.  Our students have made the best of the school year adjusting to remote learning while emotionally missing their friendships.  We applaud the administrators, teachers and staff.  In addition, parents have taken on a heavy task of promoting and enabling remote learning. One could say, that parents appreciate even more the daily task our teachers perform of educating our children nine months a year. And done with a smile.

      The Amherst School Board deserves a salute for the fiduciary responsibility they have demonstrated.  

      The school board explains their decision in a letter to the editor.

      Information on school reopening this fall will be coming soon.

Lions Club COY Has Been Cancelled for This Year

To the editor:

After much deliberation, the Lions Club leadership decided the award of Amherst’s Citizen of the Year will not be presented this year. Several reasons went into this decision, but the principal reason is the award is intertwined with the July 4th celebrations, an event recognizing the role of citizenship and volunteerism in shaping society. The club will retain all 2020 nominations and will combine them with the 2021 nominations for consideration in 2021 when the town volunteers are likely to renew their July 4th celebration planning.

      The club leadership is as disappointed as Amherst citizens must be and recognize no small effort was made by those who contributed 2020 nomination packages. For that and all those who have stepped up to answer the challenges in this difficult time, we are grateful. 

 

Sincerely,

Danielle Pray

President, Amherst Lions Club

We’ll Miss All The Smiles and Camaraderie on July 4th

To the editor:

      The Amherst July 4th celebration will be greatly missed this year! Amherst Democrats have sold root beer at our booth for many years, and have loved the experience. So many people are attracted to the green, and all are in a celebratory mood, enjoying the day and each other. We’ve handed out small flags and bottlecaps to kids, and buttons, stickers, drink cups and flyers to adults. We’ll miss all the smiles and camaraderie, and look forward to July 4, 2021. In the meantime, if anyone would like to be more involved with Democratic politics this year, join us on Facebook at Amherst NH Democrats, or check our website at amherstnhdemocrats.org, and join our email list. We’d love to hear from you.

 

Amherst Democrats Executive Board

Dan Veilleux

Anna Zimmerman

Faye O’Neill

Penny Eggleston

Pat Eggleston

Peg Harris

Martin Goulet

Len Gerzon

Tony Labranche

Beth Powers

A Thank-You to Amherst Police and Fire Departments

To the editor:

      Thank you to the Amherst Police and Fire Departments for making our Dad's 95th birthday one to remember.  On Thursday, July 2, the Amherst Fire Department sent two fire trucks and the Police Department sent a cruiser and an officer on a motorcycle to lead a procession of 20-30 automobiles all decorated with signs, flags, and streamers wishing Amherst resident Leonard Merrill  the most amazing birthday of his life!  Sirens blaring, horns tooting, friends and fellow church members whooping and hollering ... the spirit of the event was a testament that love is far more powerful than Covid-19.

      Leonard is the recipient of two Purple Hearts, an Oak Leaf Cluster, a Bronze Star, and a WWII Victory Medal for his service during World War II. He spent most of his time in hospitals enduring multiple surgeries following a near-fatal attack in Italy. That fact makes it all the more special to be able to celebrate 95 years of a wonderful life.

      The Amherst Fire and  Police Departments were eager to help lead the celebration, and we are most appreciative of their commitment to making our lives better in SO many ways.

 

Most sincerely,

Ed and Louise Merrill, Diane Merrill Pomeroy, and Janice (Merrill) and Ernie Miller

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