AMHERST, Mass. (WWLP) – The move authorizes the Executive Director to execute a Project Scope and Budget Agreement and Project Funding Agreement with the Town. 

The proposed project would join the existing Fort River Elementary School and the Wildwood Elementary School and construct a new facility serving grades K-5 on the site of the existing Fort River Elementary School. Under this new project, the District’s 6th grade student population would move to the Amherst-Pelham Middle School. 

Amherst Elementary School Building Committee Chair and Town Councilor Cathy Schoen said, “Two of the three pieces to build a new elementary school are now in place. We anticipate that the MSBA grant could be approximately $40.5 million once all incentives and contingencies are included. If the Town’s voters approve the Debt Exclusion on May 2, the Town will be on its way to opening a new school in 2026. It will be the Town’s first public net-zero building as well as a school to serve our children, teachers, and Town for decades to come.” 

Town Council President Lynn Griesemer added, “A new elementary school is crucial to the future of the Town. The Town Council has dedicated $5 million in reserves – one-half of its capital reserves – to offset the expense of the new school. In addition, the Town Council has asked the Town Manager to seek options to fund an additional $5 million in other funds to reduce the tax impact on property owners.” 

The Board approved an Estimated Maximum Total Facilities Grant of $39,640,520, which does not include any funds for Potentially Eligible Owner’s or Construction Contingency Expenditures. In the event that the MSBA determines that any Owner’s and/or Construction Contingency Expenditures are eligible for reimbursement, the Maximum Total Facilities Grant for the Fort River Elementary School Project may increase to as much as $40,466,011. 

Information on the School Building Project can be found here. Information and FAQ’s on the debt exclusion ballot question and finances is available here.

A Town-wide special election for the Debt Exclusion vote is scheduled for Tuesday, May 2. Early voting is available in Town Hall on Thursday from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Mail-in ballots are due in the Town Clerk’s office by May 2.