Amherst Sunrise Movement: Shift funding from PD to schools

Thursday, April 22, 2021

The following is a letter sent to Amherst Town Administrator Paul Bockelman, the Amherst Town Council, and the Amherst Regional Public School Committee.

The Amherst Regional Pelham School budget plan will be voted on in May. As you may already know, the proposed budget includes a $250,000 reduction in support of art, health, general education support and other items that go beyond one-time savings or reductions due to lower enrollment or administrative savings. This does not include the $75,000 reductions in support of art and integrated learning in the elementary schools. Such cuts, returning from a difficult year due to COVID, will undoubtedly undermine students’ educational needs as the district transitions back to in-person learning. These cuts are not correlated with the decrease in enrollment.

Amherst Sunrise requests that the Town Manager, School Committee, and Town Council move from the inflated $5.15 million Amherst Police Department budget funding for the Amherst schools. Moving funds from the police to the School Department would advance the education of diverse youth and would send a clear message to the community on Amherst’s values. The APD obtains salaries that are 87% higher than average and 6% higher than Amherst teachers.

Amid a national cry to decrease police spending and the Community Safety Working Group’s establishment, we ask the Town Council to advise Town Manager Bockelman to cut funds from the Amherst Police Department and add those respective funds to Amherst Regional Schools instead. Town Manager Bockelman, Amherst Town Councilors, and members of the ARPS School Committee, we urge you to prioritize education and restore the school district budget by reallocating at least one APD position and funding toward arts, middle school teaching, PE/health, and bilingual psychology.

Julian Hynes

Amherst Sunrise Member

Marisol Pierce Bonifaz

Defund the Police Co-Lead

This letter was also signed by District 1 Councilor Sarah E. Swartz, Defund413 Amherst, District 5 Councilor Darcy DuMont and Leah Neuburger, Amherst Cultural Council Committee Member.