Early Dismissal 12-22-17

School will start on time today (December 22) in all schools. We will have an adjusted early release schedule today:

Middle School, High School, and Summit Academy: Dismissal at 11:15 am
Amherst and Pelham Elementary Schools: Dismissal at 12:40 pm
Preschool (Crocker Farm Early Childhood Center only): Dismissal at 12:00 pm

2018-2019 School Calendar Now Available

The Regional School Committee has approved the 2018-2019 School Calendar.  Based on feedback from families and staff, we felt it was important to finalize the calendar earlier than we have in past years to help with future planning.  One item of particular note is that the  teachers' curriculum/work day typically scheduled in March has been moved to November 6, which is election day.  This will ensure that students are not in the schools when people are coming to their polling places to vote.

Charter School, Private School and School Choice Families Survey Results

Over the summer, the Amherst, Pelham and Amherst-Pelham Regional School Districts conducted surveys of families who choose private school, charter school or other public schools through school choice for their children.  We received a great response and the results of the surveys are available here.

Fort River School Building Committee Membership Announced

The Amherst School Committee is pleased to announce the membership of the School Building Committee for the Fort River Building and Site Feasibility Study. At our Tuesday, October 17th meeting, we randomly selected four at-large community members to serve on this 12-member committee. We would sincerely like to thank all those who submitted applications, and to those community members, educators, administrators, and town employees who will be offering their time and service to do the important work of this committee going forward. The selection process went as follows:

  •  All completed applications were numbered and names were removed.
  • These numbered applications were shared with all School Committee members via email.
  • The Chair and Vice-Chair reviewed the numbered applications and sorted them according to the positions for which they applied, which included:
    • Community Member with Green Energy Expertise and Architectural Background-At-Large
    • Parent/Guardian/Caregiver
    • At-Large Community Member #1
    • At-Large Community Member #2

The Chair and Vice-Chair shared all complete applications and the categories with the Committee; final selections were made randomly during the public Committee meeting on Tuesday.  The Committee publicly committed to having a minimum of 50% of the voting membership of the School Building Committee be composed of women and persons of color. Applications were considered accordingly based on the optional self-identification of applicants. 

The final School Building Committee is as follows:

  • Eric Nakajima, Amherst School Committee Representative
  • Diane Chamberlain, Fort River Principal
  • Kristine Royal, Green Design/Architectural Representative
  • Heather Sheldon, SEPAC Representative
  • Jonathan Salvon, Fort River PGO Representative
  • Irene Dujovne, Parent-at-Large
  • Allison Page, Community Member-at-Large
  • Maria Kopicki, Community Member-at-Large
  • Claire McGinnis, Town Finance Representative
  • Jean Fay, ARPS Staff Member
  • Nicole Singer, Fort River Teacher
  • TBD, Facilities Director
  • Dr. Michael Morris, Superintendent (ex-officio member)

We appreciate the range of experience and expertise represented in this group and look forward to working together on behalf of our schools.

Phoebe Hazzard, Chair                                  Anastasia Ordonez, Vice-Chair

Press Release Regarding Water in ARPS Schools

Last year, the district chose to participate in a voluntary state program testing the water quality in all of our schools because of our commitment to promoting the health of our students, staff, and community.  Like many districts across Massachusetts who opted to participate in the program, issues with some water outlets were identified that required remediation.  Thanks to the work of our facilities department, in collaboration with the Amherst Department of Public Works, all of the drinking sources in all of our buildings now exceed the standards set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection for both lead and copper. The district recently received notice that a lawsuit, which we believe is without merit, has been filed regarding an individual’s concerns about lead levels in the water.  

The District has been proactive as one of the first districts in the Commonwealth to undertake a comprehensive assessment of all drinking water sources. Every source was tested and, if it was out of compliance, appropriate steps were taken to resolve the issue and repairs were made to meet EPA and DEP standards. Throughout the process, we communicated all testing results, including the raw data, with families and staff members immediately upon receipt and held public meetings to discuss the results.  The School Committees were involved and kept apprised throughout the process through updates and public presentations by the Superintendent and collaborating agencies including the DPW, the local Board of Health, and our local academic resources who are among the leading experts in safe drinking water in the country.  All work at the local level was also coordinated with state and federal agencies.  We are proud of the work we have done in our district to ensure that the drinking water in our schools is safe for our children and staff.

For questions or concerns, please contact Dr. Michael Morris, Superintendent of Schools, at 413-362-1823.  

Statement from Dr. Michael Morris, Superintendent of Schools

It has been my privilege to have spent my educational career in our districts working on behalf of the children of Amherst, Leverett, Pelham and Shutesbury, and I am honored that you have chosen to allow me to continue that work as the Superintendent of Schools.  I want to thank the members of the School Committee for the open and thoughtful process you followed in making this decision and for affording me this opportunity.  The support of the School Committees, the outstanding Amherst Regional Public Schools faculty and staff, and the broader community has been invaluable during my time as Interim Superintendent.  I look forward to continuing to build on those strong working relationships as we move forward with our vital work to support our communities’ most valuable resource—our children.  Thank you again to the School Committee for your confidence in me tonight as well as over the past 13 months—I’m excited for the journey ahead that we will travel down, together, for the betterment of our students, families, staff, and community.

Members Sought for Fort River School Building Committee

At their September 25th meeting, the Amherst School Committee approved the mission statement (available here) for the Fort River  School Building Committee.  The committee also voted to include the following voting members on the Fort River School Building Committee: 

  • Fort River Principal or Designee
  • Fort River Teacher
  • Fort River Staff Member
  • Facilities Director or Designee
  • School Committee Member
  • Special Education Parent Advisory Council (SEPAC) Designee
  • Fort River PGO Appointee
  • Town Finance Representative
  • Community Member with Green Energy Expertise and Architectural Background 
  • At-Large Parent/Guardian/CaregiverAt-Large Community Member #1
    At-Large Community Member #2

In addition, the committee voted to formalize their commitment to having a minimum of 50% of the voting membership of the School Building Committee composed of women and persons of color. 

Community members are encouraged to complete the application available here for the following positions:  1) Community Member with Green Energy Expertise and Architectural Background; 2) At-Large Parent/Guardian/Caregiver; 3) At-Large Community Member (2 positions).

The deadline for applications is 12:00 Noon on Friday, October 13. All applications will be considered; however, preference may be given to women and people of color, parents/guardians/caregivers, and those with Amherst town government experience.

Community members interested in serving as the SEPAC representative should email Nancy Stewart, SEPAC President at  Please include your name, contact information and brief description (two paragraphs or less) explaining your interest in serving.

FORT RIVER COMMUNITY MEMBERS INTERESTED IN SERVING AS THE FORT RIVER PGO APPOINTEE SHOULD COMPLETE THIS FORM BY 12 NOON ON OCTOBER 13. The Fort River PGO Board will select a representative from the pool of applicants. The appointee will be expected to provide School Building Committee updates to the Fort River PGO on a regular basis. 

Feedback Sought Regarding Elementary Homework Document Draft

In late June, a team of nine educators and three parent/guardians, representing all of the elementary schools in Amherst and Pelham, spent three mornings together drafting a document intended to ensure that homework is aligned with best practices and research and is consistent both across our schools and between grade levels. The work was contextualized with an ongoing conversation about the role of homework in our schools that began last winter. This Homework Inquiry Group reviewed research about elementary-level homework and shared their experiences to ensure that both scientific and experiential data sources contributed to the draft report., which can be viewed at and (Spanish). The resulting report identifies the purposes of homework, the grade-level expectations, and the responsibilities of different stakeholders. This draft report will undergo a few rounds of feedback from different stakeholder groups. To offer feedback, please click on this link. We also plan to have a feedback session next month.  Once feedback has been collected and considered, the homework policy will be finalized and an implementation date will be set to begin by January 2018. 

Good Evening, 

Please see the attached Amherst-Pelham Regional School Committee and Union 26 Committee Statement on Consideration of Permanent Appointment of Interim Superintendent Dr. Michael Morris.

Buenas tardes, 

Por favor vea el archivo adjunto Comité de la Escuela Regional de Amherst-Pelham y Unión 26 Declaración del Comité sobre la Consideración de la Nombramiento Permanente del Superintendente Interino Dr. Michael Morris.

Dear ARPS Community:

With news of the President’s decision today to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Policy (DACA), which provides assistance and support for undocumented immigrants who came to our country as children, I am reaffirming our district’s unwavering commitment to ensuring the safety and well-being of all students, families, and staff members in the ARPS family. 

Over the past year, measures taken by the districts to support our undocumented community included our School Committees’ development and passage of Policy JII: Protection of Undocumented Students.  This policy provides clear guidance to ensure that our district provides full support for the safety of students and their records in our schools.  All staff members received information and training on this policy before the school year started and are dedicated to supporting all families and students.

Resources on the implications of today’s decision for undocumented families, and on their rights that are currently in place, can be found here in English and here in Spanish.  If your child expresses concerns about the decision to rescind DACA, for themselves or others, please be in touch with your child’s counselor at their school.  Families may also contact Dr. Marta Guevara, Director of Student and Family Engagement, at 413-362-1871, if they need support or assistance.

The Amherst Regional Public School District will continue to be a welcoming environment for all students, regardless of their immigration status.  Every student who walks through ours doors will receive our support, nurturance, and a high-quality education.


Dr. Michael Morris

Interim Superintendent

Estimada Comunidad de ARPS:

Con la noticia de la decisión del Presidente de hoy de rescindir la Política de Acción Diferida por las Llegadas de la Niñez (DACA por sus siglas en inglés), que brinda asistencia y apoyo a los inmigrantes indocumentados que llegaron a nuestro país como niños, reafirmo el firme compromiso de nuestro distrito de garantizar la seguridad y el bienestar, estar de todos los estudiantes, familias y miembros del personal de la familia de ARPS. 

Durante el año pasado, nuestro distrito tomó muchas medidas para apoyar a nuestra comunidad indocumentada, incluyendo el desarrollo de nuestro Comité Escolar y la aprobación de la Política JII: Protección de Estudiantes Indocumentados. Esta política provee una guía clara para asegurar que nuestro distrito provea apoyo completo para la seguridad de los estudiantes y sus registros en nuestras escuelas. Todos los miembros del personal recibieron información y capacitación sobre esta política antes del comienzo del año escolar y están dedicados a apoyar a todas las familias y estudiantes.

Recursos sobre las implicaciones de la decisión de hoy para las familias indocumentadas, y sobre sus derechos que se encuentran actualmente en su lugar, se pueden encontrar aquí en inglés y aquí en español.  Si su hijo/a expresa su preocupación acerca de la decisión de rescindir DACA, para sí mismo o para otros, por favor comuníquese con el consejero de su hijo/a en su escuela. Las familias también pueden comunicarse con la Dra. Marta Guevara, Directora de la Oficina de Estudiantes y Familias, al 413-362-1871, si necesitan apoyo o asistencia.

El Distrito Escolar Público Regional de Amherst continuará siendo un ambiente acogedor para todos los estudiantes, independientemente de su estatus migratorio. Cada estudiante que pasea por nuestras puertas recibirá nuestro apoyo, nutrición y una educación de alta calidad.


Dr. Michael Morris

Superintendente interino

A Statement on Charlottesville and Our Commitment to Equity, Diversity and Inclusion

Dear ARPS Families:

Given the recent events in Charlottesville, VA, we wanted to reaffirm our unequivocal commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion in our school community.  Our policies and practices center around providing a safe, supportive environment for all students, staff, families, and community members.  

Undoubtedly, the events of recent weeks will be on many of our students’ minds as they reenter the routines of the school year next week.  Our talented staff will be attentive to those needs and will provide the necessary support, guidance, and sensitivity that will promote the smooth re-entry of students to the upcoming school year.  If you feel that your child would benefit from additional support, please reach out to your child’s school counselor and/or principal.

Please be on the lookout for information about an upcoming parent/guardian event that we are co-sponsoring with the organization Embrace Race.  The event will focus on providing a space for dialogue and connection concerning the role parents/guardians play in supporting their children’s responses to, and experiences of, recent national events.


Michael Morris, Interim  Superintendent
Doreen Cunningham, 
Assistant Superintendent for Diversity, Equity, and Human Resources

24 de agosto de 2017

Estimadas Familias de ARPS:

Dado los recientes eventos en Charlottesville, VA, queríamos reafirmar nuestro compromiso inequívoco con la equidad, la diversidad y la inclusión en nuestra comunidad escolar. Nuestras políticas y prácticas se centran en proporcionar un ambiente seguro y de apoyo para todos los estudiantes, el personal, las familias y los miembros de la comunidad.

 Sin lugar a dudas, los acontecimientos de las últimas semanas estarán en muchas de las mentes de nuestros estudiantes al volver a entrar en las rutinas del año escolar la próxima semana. Nuestro talentoso personal estará atento a esas necesidades y proporcionará el apoyo, la orientación y la sensibilidad necesarios para promover el regreso sin problemas de los estudiantes al próximo año escolar. Si usted siente que su hijo/a se beneficiaría de apoyo adicional, por favor, comuníquese con el Consejero/a de la escuela de su niño/a y / o el/la Principal.

Esté atento a la información sobre un próximo evento de padres / tutores que estamos co-patrocinamos con la organización Embrace Race. El evento se centrará en proporcionar un espacio para el diálogo y la conexión sobre el papel que los padres o tutores desempeñan en apoyar las respuestas de sus hijos y las experiencias de eventos nacionales recientes.


Michael Morris, Superintendente Interino                                  
Doreen Cunningham, 
Superintendente Asistente de Diversidad, Equidad y Rec. Hum.


Welcome to a New School Year

Dear ARPS Families:

On behalf of the ARPS faculty and staff, the School Committees, and myself, I welcome you to the 2017-2018 school year.  We have spent the summer preparing for the return of students to our classrooms, and we eagerly await the first day of school on Wednesday, August 30, 2017.  Strong community support is one of the primary strengths of our district, and we appreciate how much you offer to your own children and to our schools as a whole. 

We hope to see you at our annual First Day on the Common celebration, which kicks off the school year in a fun way on Tuesday, August 29th at 5:00 p.m. on the Amherst Common.  There are great activities for children, such as horse rides, tours of fire trucks and the electric school bus, games with Amherst College student-athletes, a visit from Sam the Minuteman, decorating the banners that will be displayed in each school, and more.  

On Wednesday, August 30, we will welcome students in grades 1-12 back to school.  Pre-K and Kindergarten students will start class after Labor Day on Tuesday, September 5, with Kindergarten orientation on August 30 and September 1.  Bus routes are available on our district website here. Please note that the middle and high schools will have staggered start times on the first day, as follows:

  •  Seventh graders and eighth graders who are new to ARMS arrive at 7:45 a.m.  
  • All other eighth graders arrive at 9:45 a.m  
  • Ninth graders and students who are new at ARHS arrive at 7:45 a.m.  
  • Returning students in grades 10-12 arrive at 10:00 a.m. (or at 9:45 a.m. if they ride the bus)  

 I am happy to share information about an exciting change for the coming school year.  Last year, in response to student and family feedback about the food that is served in our districts, the School Committee voted to change from a vendor-run program to creating our own in-house food service program.  Ryan Harb, our new Food Service Director, is leading this effort, which kicked off with our very successful summer food service program. Feedback from the summer program was extremely positive, and I anticipate such positive reviews will continue.

Ryan Harb is one of several educators who are new to the district in a variety of roles and who bring energy, fresh ideas, and a collaborative spirit.  Another new member of the ARPS team is Doreen Cunningham, Assistant Superintendent of Equity, Diversity, and Human Resources.  She and Mr. Harb recently sat down for an interview in the premiere episode of  A Window into ARPS on Amherst Media.  Other new staff members will be featured in upcoming episodes.

I am thankful for our talented and dedicated staff who will ensure that the coming school year is one filled with learning, engagement, and success for our students.  With enthusiasm and excitement, I look forward to a great school year!


Michael Morris, Interim Superintendent

Estimadas Familias de ARPS:

En nombre de la facultad y el personal de ARPS, los Comités Escolares y este servidor, les damos la bienvenida al año escolar 2017-2018. Hemos pasado el verano preparándonos para el regreso de los estudiantes a nuestros salones y esperamos con impaciencia el primer día de clases el miércoles, 30 de agosto de 2017. El fuerte apoyo comunitario es una de las principales fortalezas de nuestro distrito y apreciamos cuánto usted ofrece a sus propios hijos y a nuestras escuelas en su conjunto. 

Esperamos verlos en nuestra celebración anual del Primer Día, actividad que comienza el año escolar de una manera divertida el martes, 29 de agosto a las 5:00 p.m. en el Amherst Common. Hay grandes actividades para los niños, como paseos en caballo, visitas a camiones de bomberos y autobuses escolares eléctricos, juegos con estudiantes atletas de Amherst College, una visita de Sam the Minuteman, decoración de pancartas que se mostrarán en cada escuela y más.

Al día siguiente daremos la bienvenida a los estudiantes en los grados 1-12 de regreso a la escuela. Los estudiantes de Pre-K y Kindergarten comenzarán las clases después del Día del Trabajo el martes, 5 de septiembre, con la orientación de Kindergarten entre el 30 de agosto y el 1 de septiembre. Las rutas de autobús se completarán muy pronto y se publicarán en nuestro sitio web del distrito aqui. Tenga en cuenta que las escuelas intermedias y superior tendrán horas de entrada escalonadas el primer día, de la siguiente manera:

  • Los estudiantes de séptimo grado y octavo que son nuevos en ARMS llegan a las 7:45 am.
  • Todos los demás estudiantes de octavo grado llegan a las 9:45 am
  • Los estudiantes de noveno grado y los estudiantes que son nuevos en ARHS llegan a las 7:45 am.
  • Los estudiantes que regresan en los grados 10-12 llegan a las 10:00 a.m.

Me complace compartir información sobre un cambio emocionante para el próximo año escolar. El año pasado, en respuesta a los comentarios de los estudiantes y la familia acerca de la comida que se sirve en nuestros distritos, el Comité Escolar votó para cambiar de un programa de proveedores a crear nuestro propio programa de servicio de alimentos. Ryan Harb, nuestro nuevo Director de Servicios Alimenticios, está liderando este esfuerzo, que comenzó con nuestro exitoso programa de servicio de comida de verano. La retroalimentación del programa de verano fue extremadamente positiva, y espero que tales revisiones positivas continúen.

Ryan Harb es uno de los varios educadores que son nuevos en el distrito en una variedad de papeles y que traen energía, ideas frescas, y un espíritu de colaboración. Otro nuevo miembro del equipo de ARPS es Doreen Cunningham, Superintendente Asistente de Equidad, Diversidad y Recursos Humanos. Ella y el Sr. Harb se sentaron recientemente para una entrevista en el episodio de estreno de  A Window into ARPS en Amherst Media. Otros nuevos miembros del personal serán presentados en próximos episodios.

Estoy agradecido por nuestro talentoso y dedicado personal que se asegurará de que el próximo año escolar sea uno lleno de aprendizaje, compromiso y éxito para nuestros estudiantes. ¡Con entusiasmo y entusiasmo, espero un gran año escolar!


Michael Morris, Superintendente Interino

A Window into ARPS

Visit this link to meet Ryan Harb, Food Services Director, and Doreen Cunningham, Assistant Superintendent of Diversity, Equity and Human Services on the first episode of A Window into ARPS from Amherst Media. 

First Day Celebration!
Tuesday, August 29, 2017
5:00-630 p.m.
On the Amherst Town Common
Rain Location ARHS Cafeteria, 21 Mattoon Street
Join friends and school staff at the community's Welcome-Back-To-School Party!

¡Celebración del Primer Día!
Martes, 29 de Augusto
5:00-6:30 p.m.
En el Area Com
ún Centro del Pueblo de Amherst
Si llueve será en la Cafeteria de ARHS, 21 Mattoon Street

¡Unáse a las amistades y el personal escolar en la fiesta comunitaria del regreso a la escuela! 
First Day Celebration/Celebración del Primer Día


Based upon requirements, the Amherst-Pelham Regional School District will destroy the special education and Section 504 records of students born before or during 1992 and graduated, moved, or aged out of eligibility on or before 2010. Any student, who wishes to pick up their records, must contact the Student Services Office at (413) 362-1833 or before August 21, 2017. 

(DESE Records Regulations 603 CMR 28.00)

Final Crocker Farm Water Testing Results

As we notified members of the Crocker Farm community several weeks ago, all water outlets except one tested below the action level for lead after repairs were made.  I am pleased to report that retesting shows that ALL outlets at Crocker Farm now test below the action level.  The full results of the retesting can be found here.

Final Fort River Water Testing Results
 As we notified members of the Fort River community several months ago, additional repairs and retesting were needed for several areas at Fort River School given the water testing results this year.  Since that time, district maintenance staff members have completed the additional repairs of replacing the shut-off valve with a certified, lead free replacement part.  The challenge of this repair process was that water had to be shut off in the school in order to do the work based on the antiquated systems in the building. We have retested these water outlets since the additional repairs, and I am pleased to report that all operating water outlets are below the action level for lead.  Thank you for your patience as our maintenance staff has worked through these issues to the point of resolution. 

Nominations Sought for 2017-2018 ARPS Community-Building Award

The annual ARPS Community-Building Award honors two Amherst, Pelham or Amherst-Pelham Regional School District employees who "have helped to foster a sense of belonging among students and have helped to build bridges of understanding and acceptance among them."   Nominations for 2017-2018 will be accepted at any time until June 30, 2018.  More information about the award criteria is available here and nomination forms are available here.

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