Letter: League of Women Voters backs Amherst elementary school project

Friday, March 31, 2023

The League of Women Voters of Amherst (LWVA) urges the Town Council and  Amherst voters to support the elementary school construction and the debt-exclusion vote on May 2.

 The LWVA sees so many good reasons to support this public net-zero energy project: 

■ The design meets the requirements of Amherst’s educational programming. 

■ It complies with town bylaws. 

■ It will be all-electric (not dependent on fossil fuels) and on the path to achieve LEED Gold status with an anticipated $250,000 in energy savings yearly. This school project is expected to be one of the first net-zero energy public schools in the state.

We understand construction will depend on the willingness of a majority of voters to approve an estimated $55 million property tax debt-exclusion, currently estimated to average $478 per household, and we hope the town of Amherst will work to ease some of this tax burden for those on limited incomes.

The current Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) grant is estimated to be approximately $43 million of the $98 million total cost.   

Voters must understand that a no vote means the town will need to pay for maintenance and energy cost upgrades for the 50-year-old Fort River and Wildwood schools because they fail to meet educational and classroom needs and health standards for the current student population. 

Voting no could mean another decade before Amherst will have another funding opportunity from the MSBA. 

Please vote yes to approve the school project and Prop. 2½ debt-exclusion on May 2.

Susan C. Lowery

League of Women Voters of Amherst