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ASD Board Faces the Challenge of Trust  

To the editor:            

      The role of a school board member is to balance the interests of several interest groups and transparently explain the intended results, the metrics used to track success, and the initiatives that will be undertaken and managed to achieve them.  Some of the interest groups that need to be considered are: students, parents, teachers, staff, administrators, and other town residents who do not have kids in the schools.  I am running for this role primarily because, while I am not an education professional, I believe I have demonstrated that I can balance the differing interests from stakeholders and ask for metrics to track success across various desired outcomes more effectively than some of the other candidates.   

      I have regularly attended the ASB meetings for the past two years.  I am aware of many topics that don’t get wide attention.  I pushed for the board to support the kitchen staff’s request for non-slip shoes on multiple occasions after they voted against it.  I am glad the majority have now changed their mind.

      One of the challenges we face right now is trust.  Trust for the Board and the Administration needs to be earned through respectful dialogue and reasoned explanations of the tradeoffs.  We need to stop making positions on issues sound extreme and one dimensional.  While I support the proposed teachers contract, it is wrong to accuse those who disagree of having bad intentions or being against teachers.  Choosing to not spend over $800 a year for the next 25 years on this particular facility design does not mean that one does not support our schools.  This year, we learned that there were no alternative options costed.  Voters who supported the facility project last year are speaking against it this year.  To ultimately improve the school facilities, we need the right plans and the right people in place.  

      Difficult and unknown topics await us over the next three years.  Issues like balancing Parents’ Rights with logistics of running a Public School, budget priorities aligned with the desires of the Public, and utilizing the available facilities are possible topics which demand critical thinking and respectful dialogue.  I believe that I can help reach the consensus earlier than others which will save time, money, and improve education compared to the alternatives.  I look forward to working with you over the next three years to improve the Amherst School District.  


Greg Fritz


Help Keep Scenic Roads Scenic

To the editor:            

Vote YES for Articles #41 & #52

      In Amherst’s recently adopted Master Plan, 91% of respondents indicated their Highest or High Priority was to protect open space and natural resources.  A great place to start is with our Scenic Roads.  Articles #41 and #52 will be a step in that direction.  They will increase the minimum frontage of new lots on the few Scenic roads in the southern part of town (where building is already densest) from 200’ to 300’ (the same as in the Northern Rural Zone).  In addition, Article #41 would require that new homes be set back another 25’ from the road and would ask the owners for a 50’ undisturbed buffer in front.

      These small changes will help reduce the density of new homes on our most scenic roads and will result in less traffic, less burden on our schools, less disturbed wildlife habitats, less impact on our water resources, and, most of all, they will help to maintain the rural character of Amherst which so many desire.

Dave Williams 


School Proposal Isn’t Ready

To the editor:            

      Voters have a clear choice in the leadership of the Amherst School District this year: whether to recklessly throw money at problems, or to use strategic planning to guide our decisions. Voting AGAINST the new school proposed in Amherst School District (ASD) Article 12 and FOR ASD candidates Greg Fritz, Mozammel Husainy and Mark Vincent will help us get there.

      Like the similar proposal rejected last year by a supermajority of voters, the new school (article 12) is NOT ready, and would add $850/house/year in taxes to the average home when many believe we are entering a recession. In total, this project would cost us over $100 million with interest!

      This school proposal isn’t ready because:

1. We don’t understand why we are running out of space despite ASD having 300 less students than 2007. Given that, how do we know a new school will be sufficient?

2. Any overcrowding may solve itself: enrollment has been declining across much of NH and in Amherst, and Mt Vernon could pull their students out of ASD (or we might ask them to leave if it would save us $100m).

3. Many alternatives have not been seriously looked at. For example: the Souhegan board did an analysis showing that ASD could move 7th and 8th grades into the Souhegan Annex quickly (freeing up space to move Clark/Wilkins students to AMS), Wilkins could be expanded, or we could offer families the option of tuitioning their children out of district to free up space. Could some combination of these adequately address the space issue for less than $100m?

      We need to bring in leaders who will listen to the people, evaluate all the options, and make choices that help us achieve our educational goals.

      ASD School Board candidates Greg Fritz and Mozammel Husainy did just that when they helped produce comprehensive reports comparing our school district to others as part of ASD Ways & Means (W&M) this year. There, they advocated for strategic long term education goals that would guide our decision making and identified areas (like administration) where we are paying significantly more than our peers while our test scores lag. They also agreed with last year’s voters and believe the alternatives to the new school need more study.

      On the other hand, candidates Terri Behm (incumbent) and Shannon Gascoyne (former JFAC chair) seem out of touch with the public by continuing to push for an expensive new school after over 60% of voters rejected it last year.

      As a former ASD W&M chair for 7 years, ASD School Moderator candidate Mark Vincent has significant leadership experience within ASD and understands the importance of having an independent W&M committee. On the other hand, rather than seeking to understand W&M’s concerns, his opponent Ellen Grudzien stated publicly that W&M were “way off course” according to ASD School Board minutes. If elected, would she replace committee members she disagrees with others that only reflect what she thinks is the "right course"?

      If you want to promote the best education outcomes for our kids without significantly wasting your hard-earned money on unnecessary projects, please join me in voting NO on ASD article 12, and voting FOR Greg Fritz and Mozammel Husainy for Amherst School Board and Mark Vincent for ASD Moderator.

      If you would like to see the excellent analyses done by W&M, please visit and click on Committees -> Finance Committees -> Amherst School District W&M -> W&M analyses & Reports. Included there are their recommendations for all ASD Warrant articles.


Jason Hennessey

Former ASD Ways & Means Member


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