Allison Bleyler McDonald: Explains decision to run for School Committee

Thursday, March 08, 2018
Candidate says town failed children

“Maddening” is how many describe the article “Big bills come due for Amherst school maintenance” in the March 2 Bulletin.

I would agree — Amherst failed our children and families, as well as our teachers and staff who care deeply about our students’ achievements and well-being.

Still, it is because of the challenges ahead that I decided to run for Amherst School Committee. I’m a parent of two Fort River Elementary School students, one of whom is now at the middle school, and I was an advocate for the state grant-supported school building proposal.

I knocked on many doors and talked with many voters about the proposal, and I listened to their hopes and concerns with regards to the future of our school community. While our perspectives and backgrounds are diverse, I learned that we share a love of our schools as a cornerstone in our town, and we share a desire for healthy learning environments for all.

In July, I volunteered for the school district’s Enrollment Working Group so I could better understand the enrollment challenges in our elementary schools and help the School Committee and administration develop options for addressing these challenges. One of the many things I learned is that our group of 25 parents and community members, comprising both opponents and advocates of the school building proposal, have more in common than not in our visions for our schools.

These things we share are foundational in charting our path forward. They also give me hope: shared goals help us tackle the challenges we face in our schools, from infrastructure to enrollment.

The more than $11 million needed just to maintain our school buildings over the next six years will only inch us toward providing the healthy, high-quality learning environments we need for our students. I want to see us go much, much further.

Through my career in communications and marketing, now at a nonprofit, I have the listening, goal-setting, and solution-finding skills that can get us there. I will work hard on the School Committee to leverage my skills and help craft workable solutions for our schools.

Allison Bleyler McDonald