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Items Critical to The Mission of Amherst Schools 

To the editor:      

      Voting day is March 14 in the Amherst School District and, as this board has discussed numerous times over the past few months, there are several items critical to the immediate and long-term mission of the schools. You can find a summary of those items and links to an abundance of resources in this piece. Please review them and email if you have questions before you cast your vote.

      In the meantime, members of the Amherst School Board negotiating team wanted to use this space to highlight  the merits of article 14, the 3-year agreement with Amherst Education Association (AEA).

      When the four year agreement presented on the March 2022 ballot failed, the Amherst School Board and AEA went back to work. Over the summer, the board worked with administration to construct a vision for a new agreement. The negotiating team was pleased that by working at length with AEA we were able to achieve our primary goals including: 

  • More educational time for students. We increased the student calendar to 176 days beginning in year 2 and beyond. This agreement also removes six late start days over the three year time frame. This means that we will go from 165 full days of learning currently to 172 full days by the end of the agreement.

  • Smoothing the salary scale. The current salary scale featured somewhat arbitrary step increases between 2 and 5 percent. The new schedule smooths the majority of steps to 3% with a few at the end of each track coming in at 3.2%. We also extended the scale from 18 to 20 steps.

  • Eliminating the jump step. The new contract replaces a ‘jump step’ that provided 10-13% raises in a single year. The board viewed this arbitrary jump step as unsustainable, and it created salary disparities. For example, teachers with a bachelor’s degree were making more than teachers with a master degree on the same salary scale step.

  • New starting salaries. We are raising the minimum entry point for new teachers to $45,000 from just under $42,000. This will help recruit the best new teachers to our district when our current teachers retire or move out of the district.

  • Increased teacher development time. Prior to the school year, new teachers will spend three additional days in our district, becoming familiar with our curriculum, responsive classroom, and other initiatives. All teachers have a new professional development day in the summer in year two and year three. These two additional PD days replace the late-start days during the year.

What happens if this contract doesn’t pass?

If the contract fails:

  • Teachers remain on FY22 salaries for a third straight year, meaning they receive no raises for two straight years in the most inflationary time in 40 years.

  • We lose extra time in the classroom for all students. This includes the full student day in year two and the ability to eliminate six late starts in the final two years. 

  • Most critically, hiring and retaining teachers becomes more difficult. As an example, see this comparison between a third-year teacher in Amherst vs. a similar teacher in Hollis entering next school year. 

    • Amherst - Teacher with a bachelor’s degree hired for 21-22 school year at $41,797. Entering 23-24, this teacher is still on step 1 with the same salary in their third year of teaching.

    • Hollis – Similarly credentialed teacher hired for 21-22. Entering 23-24, they have advanced to step three and the salary is $50,960. 

      This is a difference of more than $9,000 for teachers with the same experience and degree. Over a lifetime, that equals hundreds of thousands of dollars. Without a new contract, It would be no surprise to see even fewer new teacher applications, while also risking the loss of teachers already in-district as they seek greener pastures.

      We believe this is a thoughtful contract that accomplishes the goals of the board and administration to meet the needs of our students andfamilies, while also properly rewarding teachers who have earned a new contract.  

Voting Day Review

      In addition to article 14, these are the other items up for vote March 14, along with additional resources to review the case for each one.

  • The Clark/Wilkins building project (warrant article 12). This is the new school bond project that currently sits as the centerpiece of our district-wide facilities plan. You can learn more by watching the deliberative session presentation right here ( or by visiting our facilities website,

  • The FY24 operating budget (warrant article 13). We are currently operating under a default budget, and doing so for a second straight year would increase the burden on district administration to manage FY24 costs and initiatives on a FY22 budget. More importantly, it would short-circuit the district’s FY24 goals, primarily improving the building block of all education - literacy. More on the details of the budget can be heard in the second half of the deliberative session, beginning at the two-hour mark right here:

  • New contracts for teachers and support staff (warrant articles 14 and 16). We have covered article 14 above. Article 16 covers our Amherst Support Staff Association. These will raise wages in an inflationary environment, boost morale for current staff and make Amherst a more attractive place for new teachers and support staff. Additional details can be found in the deliberative video starting at 2:48 right here.

  • Capital Reserve Fund contribution (warrant article 18). This article will see up to $605,000 deposited into our capital reserve fund to help execute the long-term facility upgrades, particularly to AMS. This has no additional impact on taxes.

Tom Gauthier, Chair and Negotiating Team Member

Josh Conklin, Negotiation Team Member

The Time is Now – New Library for Mont Vernon

To the editor:      

      At this year’s March 15th Town Meeting, residents can vote to move Mont Vernon forward. 

Article 04 will allow the town to replace the tiny 1909 Main Street library building with a modern, accessible library designed to support all of today’s residents on land near Carleton Pond purchased in 1997 for this purpose.  We are fortunate to have both the Mont Vernon Library Charitable Foundation (MVLCF) and the Sophia G Daland Trust (Trust) supporting the new library. The cost is $5.95M, but more than $3.3M (56%) of that funding is already available. All but 2% from gifts and donations, but a $1M gift expires next year.  MVLCF is continuing the capital campaign to further reduce the project’s tax impact (~59¢).  The Trust has supported the current library for more than a century and will continue to fund routine maintenance and utility costs for the new building.

      Article 05 would add an automated fire protection sprinkler system to the project.  Although not specifically required by Code, the Mont Vernon Fire Department favors this addition.

      Article 06 funds construction of the access road required in 2027 for the new cemetery, planned for 2030, on land above the new library.  State-issued permits require it to be completed by next year to avoid significant

re-permitting costs.  Building the road, which will also serve the library, now allows library construction to begin now. 

      For more information on our new library and the Library Capital Campaign, visit

      See you all at Town Meeting!


Mont Vernon Library Trustees

Cindy Raspiller – Chairperson

Charles York – Library Building Committee

Christine Hamilton – Library Building Committee


Lou Springer – Cemetery Trustee

Alyson Miller – Cemetery Trustee


The Sophia G. Daland Trust 

Anne Dodd

Scott Foster

Peter King

Jill Weber

Jane-Holly Weintraub

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