By NICK GRABBE
Saturday, January 23, 2010
AMHERST - Incumbent School Committee member Kathleen Anderson is running for re-election, while incumbent Andrew Churchill is not, in the upcoming election in March.
Anderson, of 49 Deepwoods Drive, faces three challengers for the two School Committee seats. They are: Ernest Dalkas, of 170 East Hadley Road, Richard Hood, of 69 South Pleasant St., and Rob Spence, of 16 Bayberry Lane.
The election is March 23. The deadline for filing nomination papers is Feb. 2.
Anderson, 58, is an artist and educator. Her children, who are 35 and 33, attended Amherst schools, and her grandchild is currently at Crocker Farm School.
"I am interested in being a voice for many students whose issues and concerns sometimes get overlooked," she said in an interview. "I know many people are concerned about the redistricting decision, and some people's desires were unable to be met. I trust the voice that I bring will ensure that students who have had attachments to a particular school will feel that their needs will continue to be met."
Anderson said she contributes "a voice outside the mainstream" to the conversation about education.
Dalkas, 61, is a retired Vietnam veteran, and has children who are in fourth-grade and ninth-grade. He is a member of the Citizens Advisory Committee on the school budget, and has been on the Crocker Farm Governance Council and a Town Meeting member.
He said he's running because he "wants to give back to the community."
"I'm very concerned about budget cuts and the direction our schools are going," he said. "I feel we are lowering stands for our children, and they are paying the price. It's the obligation of our community to educate our children, even though it's tough financially."
Hood, 52, has a Web design business and works out of his home. He has two children who are 23 and 21 and went to Amherst Regional High School. He is a Town Meeting member.
He is a member of the Citizens Advisory Committee, where he has pushed for greater budget transparency.
"What I really have a passion for is good communication," he said. "I feel that too often people inside the school system think everyone else knows what's going on just because they do. I want to foster a culture where people are always asking #What do we know that folks out there need to know?' Likewise, I think parents often communicate poorly with the schools and too often assume something they have heard is true, when it's not."
Spence, 40, is an emergency-room physician who works at Wing Memorial Hospital in Palmer. He has two children at Fort River School and a third younger child.
He has been a member of the Fort River School Council and Town Meeting. He has served on the board of advisors of Amherst Committee on Excellence, and said he favors the School Committee's increasing reliance on data.
"I'm running because I felt like I could help the Amherst schools be a model of academic excellence," he said.
My Goal in Blogging
I started this blog in May of 2008, shortly after my election to the School Committee, because I believed it was very important to both provide the community with an opportunity to share their thoughts with me about our schools and to provide me with an opportunity for me to ask questions and share my thoughts and reasoning. I have found the conversation generated on my blog to be extremely helpful to me in learning community views on many issues. I appreciate the many people who have taken the time to share their views. I believe it is critical to the quality of our public schools to have a public discussion of our community priorities, concerns and aspirations.