My name is Ben Herrington, I’m a single dad with a 5th grade student at Crocker Farm Elementary and a 17 year old who attended Amherst public schools, and I’m a candidate for school committee.
I’m a veteran of the Army Corps of Engineers. I’m a currently a custodian at Wildwood Elementary and have also worked at fort river. I participated in Town Meeting, currently serve on the Amherst Human Rights Commission and I’m an Amherst Education Foundation board member. I’m also a youth basketball coach.
I’m running for school committee because I believe that we need to expand the conversations we have that guide our school system and affect the future of our children and our town, in general. I also believe in our collective commitment to continually improving our schools. The conditions that exist within the physical environment our children learn in need serious improvement. This is one of my main areas of concern. No matter what path forward we take, be it the construction of a new school or a major renovation project, we need to to ensure that we don’t set up future Amherst residents to deal with the same situations we encounter today. We need a comprehensive Facilities Development policy, focusing on the maintenance, operations and improvement of our school buildings. We currently don’t have a facilities development policy and we need to change that. It’s up to us, in this moment, to take ownership and guidance in creating a positive environment for our students to learn in.
I believe that proactive outreach to all stakeholders is important to ensure that we all feel as though our voices are heard and valued equally as we create the policies and budgets that will guide our school system onward and upward. Many folks can’t make it out to meetings that conflict with their lives and so, when necessary, it will take a very real effort on our part to reach out to those people. Most of our town councilors have done just that, with district meetings, and I would take a similar approach as a school committee member.
I’m committed to the district’s mission to value social justice and multiculturalism in our schools. Representation matters and, in terms of social justice, a broad diversity of perspectives is absolutely imperative. Sometimes, decisions are made that don’t necessarily reflect our collective values and it isn’t because of any nefarious plot or scheme, it’s because the experiences of those making the decisions are different than folks like myself. In many ways, some of us live in seemingly different worlds. You could even say that there is more than one Amherst, depending on your perspective. The broader the swath of voices we bring in to the decision making process, the more balanced our decisions will be. Parity and diversity in the school committee will benefit everyone involved.
We will face a great deal of challenges in the near and distant future and we need to face those challenges with resolve and with proper planning in order to overcome them. We owe at least that much to our children, our educators, our support staff, to our parents and guardians, and to the future of educational excellence in Amherst.
Vote for me, Ben Herrington, on November 5th, and let’s work together for a better tomorrow.