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Old 02-07-2015, 04:26 PM
 
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Hi,

I'm wondering if anyone can give a comparison between the public schools in these three districts (Frontier vs Amherst vs Northampton)--or even rank them. We're thinking of moving to the area and trying to decide between these three areas, and the school district may be (or rather *will* be) the deciding factor as to where to move. We currently have kids in elementary school but plan to be here for the long term, so middle school and high school are important too. I'm particularly looking for schools that are perhaps equally focused on arts and sports (or preferably even more focused on arts), strong community involvement, interesting classes, AP and independent study opportunities. Good, engaging and committed teachers.

From my research, it seems like Amherst might be the best academically, but Northampton better with arts and Frontier better with sports--would this assessment be accurate?

Any feedback appreciated! Thanks!
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Old 02-09-2015, 08:06 AM
 
Location: Near a river
16,045 posts, read 18,260,654 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by saturn73 View Post
Hi,

I'm wondering if anyone can give a comparison between the public schools in these three districts (Frontier vs Amherst vs Northampton)--or even rank them. We're thinking of moving to the area and trying to decide between these three areas, and the school district may be (or rather *will* be) the deciding factor as to where to move. We currently have kids in elementary school but plan to be here for the long term, so middle school and high school are important too. I'm particularly looking for schools that are perhaps equally focused on arts and sports (or preferably even more focused on arts), strong community involvement, interesting classes, AP and independent study opportunities. Good, engaging and committed teachers.

From my research, it seems like Amherst might be the best academically, but Northampton better with arts and Frontier better with sports--would this assessment be accurate?

Any feedback appreciated! Thanks!
I would rank them Amherst, Northampton, Sunderland. There is also an elective Pioneer Valley Performing Arts High School located in South Hadley, but probably no sports. Amherst and Hamp would have more of both. Frontier, more sports and less known for the arts. There are some individually very good teachers there, but the school itself is not so "known" for anything such as fine arts, drama productions, etc.

Amherst is having a bit of a racial challenge at the moment, with racism directed at a black teacher who is on leave for a while. Northampton (just my opinion) is less likely to have this kind of thing, but it was definitely a surprise in Amherst, touted for being multicultural and inclusive.

Sunderland is more suburban, so you'd be driving quite a bit with your kids to activities.

Where you work would have something to do with choosing which side of the river, Amherst or Hamp. That commute over the bridge can be pretty tough at rough hour, if you are going from home or work to schools and events.

If school district is a deciding factor, I would invest the time to sit in on classes and talk to teachers and principals in both districts. Ask about teacher layoffs (seem to be happening more in Amherst, but I can't say that with certainty) and school support systems. Amherst has had a pretty good reputation in the past (even nationally), but that may be slipping a bit. The best way to find out is feet on the ground.
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