Monday, December 31, 2018
About that Amherst analogy...

I’d like to expand on the analogy presented in a letter last week, regarding Amherst’s elementary school buildings. In it, two of a family’s three cars are old clunkers, and a relative has offered to pay for half of a minivan to replace the two old cars.

To enhance the fit of this analogy to Amherst’s situation with our school buildings, I would add that the new minivan is not to be used by the entire family; in fact, the children wouldn’t ride in the same car together. The parent(s) would have to drive the younger children around in the third car for a number of years, while the older kids would have to be driven in the minivan. And if this were a single-parent family, the burden would be even greater. Also, at a time when hybrid and electric cars are becoming more cost-effective and mainstream, the minivan runs on fossil fuels. In addition, half of family members do not support the idea of reconfiguring their transportation situation.

Of course, in a family, these inconveniences would be felt by all; in our school district, they would have had a disproportionate effect on lower-income families with fewer (actual, not analogical) cars, and those reliant on public transit. I would also like to point out an error in the letter — that the price of maintaining the two outdated schools is $12.5 million. That amount is actually the cost of maintaining all three elementary schools.

What I do agree with in the letter is that we should all be looking to our new Town Council for creative solutions to our building issues — solutions that Amherst residents can support, regardless of where they stood on the previous building project.

Jennifer Page