School board admonished

AMHERST – A former Souhegan Cooperative School Board member urged Amherst school officials last Monday night to pay attention to the election results.

The Amherst School District’s operating budget and a warrant article for four new elementary school teachers were voted down on March 12. Another article for $225,000 for consultants to explore land and buildings for future facilities was also voted down.

In his weekly online address, schools Superintendent Adam Steel said officials have some things to learn, but Dwayne Purvis said there is too much emphasis on social media.

“You are not listening,” Purvis said during the public comment period at the Amherst board’s April 8 meeting. “You have got to hear constituents outside social media,” he said, noting that only one in five voters have school-age children.

“Communication is a two-way street. Because you don’t like what people have to say doesn’t mean you get to ignore them,” he said. “I admonish you guys to listen to what the community is saying.”

School officials did not respond, but Steel reported that 81 people took a voter survey after the elections, with 55 saying they had supported the budget and 26 saying they didn’t. The number one reason for the no votes, Steel said, was the budget’s tax impact.

The Souhegan operating budget passed, but just barely with the help of Mont Vernon voters, and school officials are looking at advanced placement courses for savings next year.

The failure of the Amherst district’s budget means they are working with a default budget that is $325,000 less than the proposed operating budget.

The hiring of four new teachers was intended to relieve class size problems in the elementary schools.

Clark-Wilkins Principal Nicole Fraley resigned shortly after the elections, and the superintendent reported they have 27 applications for the position and are in the process of screening them.