Save the Neighborhood, Help the Kids,
 Stop the new Mega School

Page 3

This is how you redistrict a school system without enduring parental outrage. Get the State to fund a new school in exchange for closing three others.  Then blame the local college for "taking back" the school the city leased for sixty years. Then tell the State that the school committee approved all of it. City Hall closed Juniper Park. It also promised to close Franklin Avenue in addition to the Abner Gibbs. The state said OK.

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Note who received notice of the approval (see end of letter). Both Knapik's, Don Humason, Shirly Alvira (Supt. of Schools), Mary Ann Cleland (School Committee), and ONE city councilor - Brian Sullivan.

Also note that Westfield's elementary school population is ALREADY below the LOW end projection for 2017-2018, 4 years ahead of schedule in 2014.

A space reduction to reduce a lease debt became twisted into one-third of the justification needed for Westfield's new school.

"(Sen. Mike) Knapik said that both Abner Gibbs and Franklin Avenue schools are in poor condition...and Westfield State University is taking back Juniper Park School, which it owns." Westfield News 3/13/2012.

Yes, they "took it back" because Mayor Knapik changed the lease to make it a final lease after he received approval for the new school. The lease change was approved in Executive Session by the School Committee. Should have waited for the building to be built.

Here is an interesting email thread between an inquisitive citizen, the President of the college, and a TV reporter. The first was just sniffing but the other two smelled rats. They were right. (have to read starting at the bottom and go up)

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Especially after looking at the decresing enrollments, why can't we just replace Abner GIbbs or Franklin Avenue? The argument that MSBA wont build smaller schools is a misdirection. There were no pre-designed, pre-approved, small elementary model schools at the time.

Below is the new Plains Elementary School in South Hadley. It's certified design enrollment is 270 students, K and Pre-K. It is half the size of the "Model School" and designed  - from scratch- by the same architect as Williamstown/Westfield. By the way, the City has already paid Margo Jones (architect) $800k and owes her another MILLION. $1.8M for an 80% "canned" design that Williamstown paid for. Sweet.

This is because the allowable architect's fees are based on the cost of the building so there is no financial incentive to choose a pre-designed school, just a speed incentive. There is clearly no incentive for the architect to not build the biggest, baddest, and most expensive school complex possible. The MSBA has more money than it can spend. They would pay for any other project in Westfield - and have- in a heartbeat.

The Plains School project started a year after Westfield's fiasco. It is open now in 2015.  Westfield tore down one school building (Ashley Street) and closed another active school (Juniper Park) all for nothing. Cross Street playground and the old school site look like a war zone.

How about a small school to replace Franklin Avenue and/or Abner Gibbs?  Forget this giant regional school nonsense.

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