Public Comment: Jennifer Shiao Commended For Calling Attention To Synthetic Turf Risks

Photo: Wikimedia Commons. (CC BY-SA 2.0)

The following public comment was submitted in writing to the School Committee for their meeting on November 29,2022

It appears that the School Committee inadvertently neglected its due diligence when it voted to approve the installation of the artificial turf for the track at the high school.  Fortunately, one of the members who voted in favor of the plan, on reflection, realized that certain investigations had not been undertaken before the SC approved the plan.  There is no shame or blame in this oversight.  Mistakes happen, no matter how careful a group conducts it business. What is important, though, is whether the group acknowledges a mistake and revisits its decision.  I applaud Jennifer Shiao for bringing this matter to the attention of the Amherst Community, on whose behalf the School Committee is a steward of resources and expenditures. 

I m concerned to hear that some School Committee members view the actions of Ms. Shiao as undermining the work of the Committee.  This is a mistake.  Ms. Shiao has a duty to inform her constituents of any mistakes she and the School Committee may have made.  Rather than focus on chastising Ms. Shiao, I would like to see the leadership of the School Committee acknowledge the oversight and explain what the Committee has learned about how it neglected to fully  investigate information that calls into question the probity of installing the artificial turf.  If the Committee leadership chooses instead to blame Ms. Shiao, it will present an example of trying to suppress a full investigation of whether to install trifocal turf.  In that case it will be seen as more concerned with defending itself rather than serving it constituents by examining what is the best way to refurbish the track.

Michael Burkart

Michael Burkart has been a resident of Amherst since 1991

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