Budget breakdown: end to Preschool, Culinary and move for Summit Academy

Next year, facing a a $1.1 million budget shortfall, the district was forced to shoulder some of the most difficult cuts in a decade.

Administrators decided to shutter the high school’s off-site “public day school,” an alternative learning space called Summit Academy, located on South East Street in Amherst, and to move that whole school, including its administrators, teachers, and 30 students, to ARHS.

Summit’s current building was in need of costly repairs and to “pour money into that [building] didn’t make economic sense,” said ARHS Principal Mark Jackson.

At the same time, cuts were leveled at the high school.

In order to preserve the major academic areas, administrators made the painful decision to cut the ARHS Preschool and the Culinary Arts programs and the positions of those who ran them, Johanne Hedemann and David Jean.

“Protecting the academic core was [our priority],” said Mr. Jackson. “We managed to cut the million dollars.” Nevertheless, he said he felt “lousy” about the losses incurred.

The Preschool and Culinary Arts spaces will be renovated to make room for Summit’s administrative offices, common areas, and dining space.

Additionally, three English classrooms will be moved to an adjoining hall and the AIMS program will head to the technology hallway.

This newly defined space, from the Culinary and Preschool wing to the adjoining end of the English hallway, will house Summit Academy by the opening of school next fall.

Reflecting on his 14 years as principal, Mr. Jackson said, “Every year but two we’ve had a deficit.”

This issue of The Graphic will explore the loss of Culinary Arts and the Preschool programs, as well as explain what it will mean to bring Summit Academy to ARHS.