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Pelham Elementary School, Pelham, Mass.

Panel says 2 Massachusetts towns should not merge elementary schools

Amherst and Pelham share a middle and high school, but committee says elementary schools should remain separate.

A planning board has recommended against the merger of elementary school systems in the Massachusetts towns of Amherst and Pelham.

The Amherst Bulletin reports that the committee studying regionalization of the towns' elementary schools concluded that a merger would provide insufficient financial and educational benefit and lacked support from town officials and residents in both communities.

“Asking school districts to regionalize is a multigenerational decision for communities, and in the end our board decided unanimously that it was not in the best interest of both towns to pursue regionalization at this time,” the Amherst and Pelham Regional School District Planning Board wrote in its 89-page report.

Amherst and Pelham already share a middle and high school, along with a superintendent, but not elementary schools.

The report shows that Pelham could have increased financial stability through the partnership, and Amherst could receive more in state reimbursement for transportation, about $228,000 per year.

But loss of autonomy and self-control for Pelham, and questions on whether the financial benefits were enough for Amherst, doomed the idea.

If there is future interest in the concept, any town can form a new Regional School District Planning Committee to explore regionalization.

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