Letter: Proposed Budget Suggests Amherst Does Not Value Its Veteran Educators


Teacher, student and classroom for test, knowledge and learning for higher education. Young female, black woman or educator helping pupil in exams, talking or students writing notes in books or focus

From the perspective of an individual entering his fourth year of teaching, I believe that the draw of Amherst Regional Public Schools (ARPS) is the welcoming nature of its veteran staff (teachers, paraprofessionals, and specialists alike). As someone who has had the opportunity to be paid a higher salary by surrounding school districts as an early-career teacher, I nonetheless became more invested in the ARPS community. Seeing as ARPS currently employs staff that are older on average, many, like myself, are immersed in the idea that the knowledge our elder mentors provide is more valuable than any dollar amount. To be blunt, the fact that Amherst, as a district or community, doesn’t value its educators in the same way a newcomer does is a huge disappointment. 

One truly frustrating aspect of the past two school years is that my mentors have had to endure challenges, adjustments, pay cuts, goal posts moving with contractual negotiations, issues with maternity leave (which is sexist), and an overwhelming amount of expectations, only to be told that they may be cut from their positions to salvage a budgetary hole that, to be frank, Amherst dug itself into in the first place. As it stands, knowing many younger teachers in the greater Springfield area, I would struggle to recommend to my younger peers a district that shows complete disregard for talented, hardworking individuals who have given a lifetime of service to an institution that regularly reduces them to numbers when convenient.

Therefore, I strongly implore people in charge of the decision to cut positions to reconsider. The financial decisions that are made for FY ’25 will show the public what level of loyalty Amherst’s town government has for contributing members of their own community.

Avery Justice Abbitt

Avery Justice Abbitt is a teacher at Amherst Regional High School

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1 thought on “Letter: Proposed Budget Suggests Amherst Does Not Value Its Veteran Educators

  1. Avery – what a courageous letter – and YES to support our veteran teachers and all the knowledge, insight, and love for our children that they bring. At UMass Amherst – our teacher candidates (like Avery himself) benefit greatly from their mentoring and then tend to want to stay and give back! We value our partnership with our Amherst/Pelham schools. THANK YOU ALL for all that you do!

    Bev Bell, College of Education, UMass-Amherst

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