By NICK GRABBE
Friday, April 9, 2010
The budget contains more money than expected, mostly because voters approved the Proposition 2½ override and teachers agreed to wage concessions. Administrators have added preschools for low-income children in all three buildings and increased funding for music, academic intervention and instructional technology. They also added one world language teacher.
Member Catherine Sanderson said there's a lot of funding for struggling students in the budget, between the preschool, summer school and afterschool program. If the budget could be trimmed slightly in music, intervention, and instructional technology, there could be enough money for world language in every school, she said.
"I think there is wiggle room," she said.
Member Steve Rivkin said he'd like Interim Superintendent Maria Geryk and the principals to push for making these trade-offs.
"We've had an override, so we're a well-funded elementary district," he said. "We want you to figure it out so we can have everything we're hoping for."
Although the committee approved the budget's bottom line of $20.4 million, "this is not the end of the conversation" about the specifics, Geryk said.
April 16 will be the fourth annual Trash-Free Lunch Day in the Amherst elementary schools.
Last year, Crocker Farm and Wildwood schools produced less than .5 cubic inches of trash per student, according to Recycling Coordinator Susan Waite. It's a challenge for children and parents to think about reducing their waste, she said.
Whitsons Culinary Group, the district's food service provider, will create lunches on April 16 without disposable trays, utensils and containers. Students who bring lunches from home are asked to use compostable or reusable containers.
Each elementary student will receive a free reusable Smithsonian Institution lunch bag on April 16, courtesy of Paul Stavropulos, owner of two Subway restaurants in Amherst.
ARHS students volunteer
About 35 students at Amherst Regional High School will travel to Louisiana April 17 to 25 to help rebuild homes damaged by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
It is the fifth year that students have paid for their own transportation and living expenses to help Louisiana residents. A group of eight parents will supervise the travel and construction projects.
For the first time, building materials will not be available for free in Louisiana, so the students are raising money from friends, neighbors and businesses.
The projects include removing flood-damaged interiors, replacing sheetrock walls and repainting them, replacing floors, re-siding homes and replacing windows.
Penny drive for Haiti
The sixth grade at Wildwood School has organized a penny drive to benefit areas of Haiti damaged by an earthquake, and have raised about $1,000.
The money will go to Hope for Haiti, which is working in the Les Cayes region on nutrition, clean water and education projects. The organization distributes emergency relief buckets containing fortified dried food supplies, matches, candles, antibacterial soap, toothbrushes and toothpaste, detergent and water purification tablets. It also provides medical supplies.
Fourteen Amherst Regional High and Middle School students received gold medals summa cum laude on the National Latin Exam, said teacher Sean Smith.
Spencer Diamond of Latin 5 and Morgan Anastasi of Latin 1 achieved perfect scores. The test is administered every March to over 100,000 Latin students across the country.
The seniors earning gold medals will be able to apply for $1,000 college scholarships, renewable every year they study Classics, Smith said.
Nick Grabbe can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.