Thursday, December 20, 2018
Time to get Amherst’s next generation of elementary students into safe new buildings

In response to the article “More than $12 million in capital needs for Amherst’s elementary schools,” consider this:

A family faces a challenge. They own three cars and two of them are antiques inherited from parents. Both of the old cars — outdated, inefficient, unsafe, energy-inefficient clunkers from the 70s — were failing routinely. Should they spend more money at the repair shop to keep these old clunkers going, or should they save the money in the long run and invest in a reliable, safe, energy-efficient minivan? Relatives even offered to help pay for half of the new minivan.

The family decided that it was too hard to part with the two clunkers, which had sentimental value and presumably had a few more years in them. They would figure out the costs later, but first formally declined the kind offer of cash from relatives. Besides, it was nice having three cars rather than two. Even if the cars failed, maybe they could just replace them with new ones.

Amherst, we are that family. According to the Gazette’s recent article, now we have the price of maintaining those two outdated elementary schools — $12.5 million for the next five years. We turned away big money from the state to replace them. Some in the family are talking about replacing both cars entirely, but we are still waiting for the quote from the dealer, and there are no guarantees our relatives, facing tighter budgets and an unsteady economy, are going to help pay this time.

Now that we have a new Town Council in place, I think every single one of us should be asking our representatives for creative solutions to get the next generation of elementary students into safe new buildings before 2032 (current best-case scenario).

This should be our top priority and we need to be able to move fast — every member of our Amherst family depend on it.

Chris Foley Pilsner

Parent to a Wildwood second-grader
and a preschooler