Amherst to choose 2 new School Committee members
March 23, 2018
By Diane Lederman
Diane Lederman / The Republican
Spitzer, 36, is a Town Meeting member and health services researcher at Baystate Medical Center.
Why are you running?
I attended Amherst Public Schools and have two sons, 5 and 1 years old, my oldest is at Wildwood. I received an excellent education and found that the schools also offered outstanding arts, athletics, and music offerings. Amherst public schools gave me the foundation to pursue a lifetime of learning. I want to ensure the same high-quality education for all Amherst children. Serving on the School Committee will give me the opportunity to give back to the schools that gave me so much.
What skills will you bring to the School Committee?
I have worked in NYC government as a budget and policy analyst at the independent budget office and at the NYC department of housing preservation and development. I have both a masters in public administration from NYU and a PhD in urban policy and planning from MIT. I have the ability to read and analyze a budget and the ability to see how our schools intersect with the larger community, for example, how the housing market in Amherst impacts our schools’ enrollment.
What are the key issues facing the schools? How will you address them?
My work on the enrollment working group reaffirmed my belief that we have excellent teachers and administrators. Unfortunately, our buildings are out of date and in need of major repairs or replacement. After Town Meeting voted down $34 million in state funds, there is no clear path forward on how to address this need, but it is urgent. I would prioritize improving our schools’ infrastructure.
Our schools, especially at the middle and high school level, are facing difficult budget choices, I would use my experience as budget analyst to think creatively about how and where to make necessary cuts so that we don’t lose the very programs and services that make ARHS schools what they are.
I am a strong supporter of pursuing a dual language immersion program in our K-6 schools and think such a program would benefit all kids and reinforce our schools commitment to embracing diversity.
Do you support the charter proposal? If so, why? If not, why not?
I support the charter (change). I think our town deserves to have year-round government and have representatives who are identifiable and can be held accountable. I served on Town Meeting and found that the level of policy debate on important issues left much to be desired. When I tried to contact my 24 representatives before the vote on the school project, only one responded. I am in favor of a town council where issues can be brought forward and debated in an open manner. I am also excited about the potential for rank choice voting and for annual forums on the budget and schools.
Farah Ameen: Describes Spitzer’s dedication, skills
March 22, 2018
I met Kerry Spitzer on a cold, snowy Sunday morning in February 2017.
As part of the Vote Yes team that campaigned for the school project in Amherst last year, a group of us had gathered at our meeting spot/child care home to pick up our canvassing lists. Kerry was one of two young, sleep-deprived mothers there, with her baby boy all bundled up in his stroller — the youngest activist among us.
A few weeks later, there she was again: phone banking on Election Day, with a bouncing baby Gus strapped to her back. All I could think was, Wow, that is one dedicated woman.
Kerry grew up in Amherst. She knows our town and how its schools work. She recognizes the challenges facing our schools and its teachers and leaders, who are committed to excellence in education.
As a budget and policy analyst in New York City, she focused on affordable housing, homelessness, and criminal justice. Kerry knows how essential it is to understand how our schools intersect with the challenges that face our community, including housing, health, and hunger.
I don’t know how she does it all. This year, she volunteered on the Enrollment Working Group and served on Town Meeting, while holding down a job and being a devoted mother to two young kids.
That’s Kerry Spitzer for you: smart, dedicated, skilled, and passionate about our town and its schools. Amherst would be privileged to have her on School Committee.
Kerry Spitzer has my vote on March 27.
Kerry Spitzer: Candidate examines bigger picture
March 16, 2018
I am running for Amherst School Committee because I believe that we need to consider how our schools intersect with other challenges facing our community, including housing, health and hunger.
I volunteered to serve on the Enrollment Working Group, which was formed in response to a request from our School Committee to inform decisions on how to address the challenges facing our town’s elementary schools.
At each school, we interviewed dedicated professionals who are committed to serving our students. As a Wildwood parent and Crocker Farm graduate, I was already familiar with the outstanding teaching in our schools, but through our interviews, I was struck by the accounts of individuals going above and beyond to assist students with everything from securing warm clothing to a new pair of glasses.
As an urban planner and policy researcher, I try to see the bigger picture of where our schools fit into the web of public services. They need to be recognized not only as sites of learning, but also as community centers where we can bridge the economic and cultural divides in our town.
As a graduate of the Amherst schools, I benefited from the rigorous academics and access to arts, theater and athletics. As an adult, I appreciate how lucky I was to grow up in a community that supports, and is defined by, education. Yet, there are many in our community who are not able to access these same opportunities.
With both sides of the school project debate present at the first Enrollment Working Group meeting, I was not the only one worried that the atmosphere would prevent us from making meaningful progress. Nonetheless, we were able to collaborate and do the work.
Given the opportunity to serve on the School Committee, I would bring the same level of commitment to getting the work done to ensure that all of Amherst’s students are able to receive the excellent education I did.
I don’t want to just look back at the town of my childhood, but also forward, toward an Amherst that recognizes that new challenges call for new approaches.
Jan Klausner-Wise: Backs Kerry Spitzer for school board
March 16, 2018
I have known Kerry (Wilbur) Spitzer since she was in sixth grade at Crocker Farm and played Lassie League softball on a team my husband coached.
I am delighted that she decided to run for School Committee and serve the community she grew up in.
Kerry has a skill set that is unique: a thorough understanding of budgets and policy and an awareness and commitment to the values of the community she grew up in. She respects and will champion the needs of all of our community’s children.
Please join me in casting one of your two School Committee votes on March 27 for Kerry Spitzer.
DAILY HAMPSHIRE GAZETTE
Charter, schools top candidate forum in Amherst
March 15, 2018
By SCOTT MERZBACH
Kerry Spitzer, candidate for School Committee, speaks March 15, 2018 during a League of Women Voters forum at Amherst Regional Middle School. —GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY
Spitzer, who attended Amherst schools in the 1990s, said she can bring budget and policy experience to the committee.
“I’d really like to keep the schools strong and give the next generation of students the same experience I had,” Spitzer said.
All three candidates agreed that arming teachers is not a way to make schools safer.
Spitzer said she wants children to feel safe, but worries about the school to prison pipeline.
“I want to make sure our schools don’t become places overly concerned with safety,” Spitzer said.
McDonald said school officials, residents and parents all need to take responsibility. “Safety in the schools is as much safety in our community,” McDonald said.
Herrington said policies such as restorative justice, a concept that makes children feel more part of overall community, can contribute to a safer schools.
Both Spitzer and McDonald said they supported the twin elementary school project, which would have replaced Wildwood and Fort River schools, while Herrington was opposed because it didn’t address equity issues.