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Invest in the Future

To the editor:            

      Many school districts in NH are facing a shortage of teachers and support staff. The town of Amherst is not immune to this issue. This past year, local administrators faced many challenges filling both teacher and support staff positions. 

      We, the educators of Amherst, are asking voters to approve articles twelve through seventeen on March 14th.

      In a recent UNH poll, nearly two-thirds of NH residents stated that public schools in the state should increase the wages offered to prospective teachers. As pay rates rise in many areas of the private sector, we must ensure that our schools can compete by offering competitive wages and training to those who love working with kids, while supporting their families. The changes to our economy demand that we not merely offer up Amherst as a “great place to live and work,” but one that truly values the future and is willing to invest in it.

      Article 12 and 13 will provide students with a safe and healthy environment and the necessary resources that they need to learn and grow. Articles 14-17 represent fair agreements that positively impact both staff and students. These articles support our schools and are investments in the future of our children, keeping Amherst an attractive place to live. 

      On March 14th, please support Amherst’s teachers, support staff and children by voting YES on Articles 12-17.


Amy Hanson, AEA President

Lynn Bowler, ASSA President

Keep Amherst Rural and Suburban

To the editor:      

      There are 3 Articles on the ballot for the March 14 election that deal with proposed warehouses and distribution centers - Article 49, Article 50, and Article 51.  Articles 49 and 50 provide definitions for these 2 terms as none exist in the town zoning ordinances at the present time.  Clear definitions are necessary to ensure that developers are aware of what the town ordinances permit as to the storage and functionality of these types of buildings. These Articles also protect the town and its residents from a surprise when a developer puts in another kind of building and calls it a warehouse or distribution center.  

      Article 51 puts a limit on the size of a distribution center at 200,000 square feet. This is sufficient to allow owners of industrial land to develop their property and yet not put a burden on traffic flow and on town services like the fire department. Additional tax revenue would be collected by the town without generating a net loss due to infrastructure costs to support a larger distribution center.  

      Amherst should remain a rural/suburban community and not be turned into an industrial community. Please vote “YES” on Articles 49, 50, and 51.

Barbara Bankeroff


Educational Excellence Based on Best Information Available

To the editor:            

      I am writing this note as a follow up to the declaration of my candidacy for Amherst School Board.  As I stated in my introductory piece last month, I am passionate about our public schools providing the best educational foundation to the children of our community and maximizing the return on investment. If given the opportunity, I would help the School Board drive towards educational excellence in a cost-effective fashion and regaining the community’s trust and confidence. 

      If elected, as an ASB Member, my priority would be to perform a thorough health check of the K-8 operations and create a much-needed set of KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) to gauge progress.  We have seen a gradual decay in student performance and scores. The trend for proficiency of Math and ELA is sloping down, and costs are going up.

      Relying solely on standardized test scores is not satisfactory measure for many.  I think in addition to tracking standardized test scores, it is important to consider teachers’ grades in evaluating progress of a student.  Other measures such as teacher and staff satisfaction, teacher & staff retention, student attendance, retention of students (not withdrawn for home school or private/charter schools), student achievements, safety, disciplinary rates, satisfaction with guidance counselors, quality of paraprofessionals, enrichment programs, student satisfaction and sense of belonging, youth behavior risk survey results, community forum attendance, family and parent involvement, graduation rates, etc. are some of the variables which should be considered when evaluating and ranking a school district. Since 2010 we have been waiting for the SAU39 to develop such KPIs, but none has been produced and shared with the community thus far.  What cannot be measured, cannot be improved upon.  To establish a corrective roadmap, we need to identify the dimensions which need focus, resources and improvement.  An honest strength, weakness, threats, and opportunity analyses is in order.  We need to look at other neighboring schools, both public and charter, and learn from them.   

      Secondly, we need to investigate why there is a propensity to frequently change curriculum, grading and teaching methods.  The current practice of buying curriculum, lesson plans, and other teaching aides/tools from private for-profit organizations (which comes at a steep cost) should be investigated.  It is important to listen to the voice of the teachers and include their input before deciding on what curriculum to adopt and how to deliver the concepts to the students in an effective manner ensuring that they grasp, retain, and can apply that knowledge.  

      Finally, we need to articulate the true space requirements and figure out how to provide that additional required space in the most cost-effective way to the Wilkins Elementary School.  SAU needs to calculate exactly how much additional space is required for the current grades housed at Wilkins and how much that would cost to build out including changing out the hydro mechanicals of the existing building, renovating the gymnasium and the cafeteria.  The desire to vacate Clark and shift the fifth graders from AMS seems optional and not mandatory.  Given current economic conditions and the increasing cost of borrowing, the previous cost estimates seem unreliable now.  Furthermore, proper benefit-cost analyses have not been performed, and the final impact on the taxpayers is understated.  AMS should not have been allowed to fall into a state of disrepair years ago.  Finally, the SAU and ASD Board have not considered the funding SHS will require a few years down the road.  

      As a board member, I will strive to articulate the problems and frame solutions grounded on both qualitative and quantitative data.  As a consensus builder, I hope to make the best decisions based on the best information available at the time while not losing sight of the end goal.  Our decisions and rationale will be clearly communicated to the parents and the community members to ensure transparency of all our activities.   


Mozammel “Muzi” Husainy


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