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.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Update: Amherst voters OK override, elect Richard Hood, Robert Spence to School Committee

The Republican
Diane Lederman

AMHERST - Voters by an 897-vote margin approved a $1.68 million Proposition 2½ override in Tuesday’s annual town election and placed two newcomers to the School Committee.

Richard B. Hood garnered the most votes with 2,418. Robert A. Spence came in second with 1,964 votes in the five-way race. Hood was a strong supporter of the override. Spence took no position on the override to mirror the current School Committee, which had not taken a vote.

One-term incumbent Kathleen D. Anderson lost her bid for a second term. Incumbent Andrew M. Churchill did not seek re-election.

Anderson finished third, with Vincent J. O’Connor and Ernest J. Dalkas rounding out the contest.

This was the only town-wide race.

Hood, who worked for passage of the override, credited supporters’ success on work and organization. Hood said supporters modeled their campaign on the one in Northampton which saw the passage of a $2 million override in June.

He said he believes the committee needs to focus on district goals and that having an interim superintendent should not impede the committee on moving forward.

The Amherst Regional School Committee will meet tonight to review the budgets and vote Thursday night.

Unlike in 2007 when the override loss by 267 votes, this time supporters approved it by a vote of 3,058 to 2,189.

The Finance Committee and Select Board supported the override, which at its $1.68 million level would add about $264 annually for the average homeowner with a house valued at $334,600.

March 15, the teacher’s union agreed to give back about $350,000 in pay increases if the override was approved. Town officials said if additional revenue was found they would not tax to the full levy limit and would lower the annual increase to about $190 a year.

According the ballot question the money would be apportioned in the following ways: $452,252 to the town operating budget, $400,000 to the elementary schools, $739,195 to the regional schools assessment, and $88,994 to the library operating budget. But those numbers could change.

The Budget Coordinating Group is slated to meet Thursday morning to discuss the results of the override. The group is comprised of members of the school and finance committees, the Select Board and the Jones Library Board of Trustees.

Since Proposition 2½ was enacted into law in 1980, Amherst has passed two overrides - one in 1991 and the second in 2004. The money will save jobs 20 jobs in the schools as well as library and town positions.


LarryK4 said...

Congrats to Rob Spence.

Mr. Hood should not be too hard to reign

voter said...

despite your lack of support for the override, it has passed by a decisive 58% of amherst voters. to what extent will you change your positions to make sure you're representing what these voters want?

Catherine A. Sanderson said...

My responses:

Larry - I too congratulate Rob. I wish there had been less negative campaigning -- about him in particular, which I felt really bad about. I also congratulate Kathleen on three years of SC service, and am certain she will continue to be involved in our schools in other ways.

Voter - My position was to let the voters decide whether they wanted an override -- the voters got to decide, and they voted yes. That seems entirely reasonable and appropriate - and the path shared by 4 of the current SC members at the time the override was proposed.

LarryK4 said...

Anon 10:48 PM

You forgot to mention that the "decisive 58% of Amherst voters" came from a turnout of only 31%.

So for all you know the 69% who did NOT come out to vote could think quite differently.

Unfortunately, we will never know.

Anonymous said...

Rick Hood received the most votes in yesterday's election...and yet Larry and Catherine both refrain from congratulating him! What is that about? Yea, I understand Larry. He has NO CLASS!!! But Catherine? No congratulations for Rick?

I offer my congratulations to Rick and Rob. I did not support Rob at all and am disappointed that he won but congratulations are appropriate to say when someone wins. Its the classy thing to do. I hope Rick and Rob can make a difference in the lives of all the children of Amherst.

Anonymous said...

So, Ms. Sanderson, are you going to congratulate Mr. Hood, as well?

Rick said...

Don’t blame the turnout; pretty much the same as for the last override: 31.6% versus 31.5% in 2007.
I look forward to working with all school committee members. I don’t think any of them are about “reigning me in” (whatever that means). We are all about focusing on problems to be solved in a constructive manner in order to “delight our customers” – parents and students – while empowering our teachers and staff to do so.
We have a great SC to go forward with this mission, a great set of principals, a great interim superintendent, voters and teachers who have stepped up to the plate; in other words, no excuses. Let’s do it.

E.L. said...

Re: larryK 11:02: WHAT?
"So for all you know the 69% who did NOT come out to vote could think quite differently.
Unfortunately, we will never know."

What a joke! The turnout for the Amherst special election on May 1, 2007 where an override proposal FAILED had approx. the same voter turnout (31.46%). Being able to brush off one's electoral defeat is an admirable quality. In this case, however, using Larry Kelley's sour grapes, just sounds like hypocrisy. How ridiculous it would have been had pro-overriders claimed 3 years ago that "the 69% who did NOT come out to vote could think quite differently." Afterall it's part of a campaign's job to make sure its voters do show up. Something the 2010 override campaign did very successfully.

Now I expect that Larry Kelley will consider responding to my post by launching personal attacks against people who worked hard for the override in 2007. Maybe he won't, though, since his new best friend, Catherine, was one of the major organizers.

Catherine A. Sanderson said...

My responses:

Anonymous 5:30 - I was responding to Larry's post, which congratulated Rob -- and thus I repeated it. I don't actually offer congratulations to candidates via my blog -- as you can confirm by contacting candidates individually, I emailed both Rob and Rick last night to offer my congratulations. I also emailed Kathleen to thank her for three years of service. That struck me as the classy thing to do since the emails would go directly to those people -- whereas I certainly can't expect that Rob/Rick/Kathleen will turn to my blog to hear my words.

Anonymous 6:41 - as you can read in the post above, and as I'm sure Rick can confirm, I sent him an email last night expressing my congratulations. But thanks for checking!

Rick - well said! And as you posted on this blog, having the override pass means that "not enough money" can't be an excuse to not make important changes in our schools! I look forward to working with you and all the other members of the SC over the next year.

EL - Larry was simply pointing out that we don't know (and won't ever know) what the majority of Amherst voters think, since many of them do not in fact vote. I think we can all agree that the override passed, with about the same turn-out as last time. I certainly agree that the 2010 pro-override side did an excellent job of getting out their message and getting voters to the polls.

LarryK4 said...

Actually Catherine--not to correct you on your own blog--but for SOME things Amherst voters do turn out in droves.

The November Presidential election every four years averages almost an 80% turnout.

And as I've said many times on my blog Anon 7:50 AM (again, no offense Catherine): the 2007 Override Campaign was the most inept I have ever seen--although I've only been watching for 30 years.

Anonymous said...

"So for all you know the 69% who did NOT come out to vote could think quite differently."

But they didn't exercise their right to be part of the decision-making, did they. They squandered their right to be heard. People die for that right all over the world, and our own people are dying for our right to vote today.

I don't understand people who don't vote, I really don't.

But then again, my immigrant grandma took me to the polls and let me pull the levers for her. It gets in your blood.

Anonymous said...

I did not support the override. But I have to accept the result and would not deign to impugn the will of the voters - or suggest that this sample of voters generate a result that would be any different from what transpired. The bottom line for me is that I was in the minority.

From my perspective Amherst has spoken. Those who forfeited their right to influence that process have no right to complain.

It is now my job (and all of our jobs in my view) to watch what is done with the new tax revenue by the RSC and the Town.