Amherst school committee votes in favor of grade reconfiguration, new school

A new 750-student elementary school would be built by fall of 2019.

AMHERST, Mass. (WWLP) – The Amherst school committee voted 4-1 to reconfigure their grade levels and build a new elementary school.

Pending final approval, a new 750-student elementary school would be built by fall of 2019.

The plan is to have pre-kindergarten through first grade in the Crocker Farm School, and split the students in second to sixth grade at both the Fort River and Wildwood schools into the new building.

The 750 students will be split into two separate wings of 370 kids each, essentially maintaining two separate schools and administrations. The students would, however, share large common areas.

Most plans will have the new school set to be built at the current Wildwood School site, but the building committee won’t vote on that until February 2nd.

To some, plans of a new and larger school mean a greater quality of learning.

“Every student will have access to a high quality classroom,” Michael Morris, assistant superintendent of Amherst, Pelham, Leverett, and Shutesbury schools said. “Currently two of our three elementary schools don’t have walls that go to the ceilings so there’s ambient noise and other challenges.”

22News also found that some people aren’t supportive of a larger school.

“They do not want a second to sixth grade configuration,” Vira Douangmany Cage of the school commitee said. “They like the kindergarten through sixth and people are very committed to the very end to keeping the smaller schools.”

The state would fund nearly 70 percent of the total cost of the new school, with Amherst residents paying the rest. So far, rough estimates have the amount would be anywhere between 28 and 34 million dollars.

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