Nearly 470 community members speak in support of our schools
Following more than an hour of overwhelming public support for our students, schools, educators, and city, the Board of School Committee voted 12 to 1 Thursday, Feb. 20, to “accept with gratitude” the comprehensive plan our community created to ensure all of our students receive an equitable and excellent education and are prepared for future success.
Nearly 470 people attended the special board meeting at Memorial High School, where Manchester band students welcomed them with an upbeat set.
In his motion to accept the plan, board member James Porter said, “We accept this document as a powerful tool and roadmap to increase the district’s focus on learning for our students, development of our educators, and the strengthening of the system itself. The Board of School Committee in conjunction with the superintendent will use this document as a guide to develop a plan of action focused on the continued development of our schools. It’s a dynamic resource, not a prescription.”
The audience erupted in cheer following the vote, captured here on video:
Superintendent Dr. John Goldhardt told the board that the plan presented by Manchester Proud aligns with his vision for the district. “We take one step at a time,” he said. “We work together.”
Prior to the board’s vote Thursday night, dozens of community members, including several students, testified. They endorsed the many successes of our schools and urged the board to pursue the plan’s proposed increased support to school staff and all students, including those who are marginalized because of limited English, learning challenges, and disabilities. Many also asked the board to expand existing creative approaches to education including competency-based learning, project based learning, and extended learning opportunities.
Many speakers also thanked Manchester Proud for its determination to welcome all voices to the conversation about schools though canvassing, dozens of community forums, surveys, and opportunities to help narrow the list of nearly 100 ideas to those prioritized in the plan.
Sean Paar, who attended many Manchester Proud community forums, said he appreciated seeing the plan being revised as it incorporated the thoughts, opinions, and ideas of the community. “I think this is a real change that can create real momentum for the schools,” he said. “I really encourage you to do something with it. It’s time. We can do it.”
Selma Naccah-Hoff, a long-time Manchester School District teacher, said the strength of the plan is not only its ideas, but the community involvement Manchester Proud has encouraged in the city.
“Every idea offered in this plan, we have tried,” she said. “You might ask, ‘What’s the difference?’ The huge difference, ladies and gentlemen, is that this has the approval and actual involvement of many different members of our community. That is the essential ingredient for anything to succeed.”
The plan, available on Manchester Proud’s website, was created and presented Thursday night by Manchester Proud’s Community Planning Group, whose members are Manchester educators, parents, students, and community and business leaders. The presentation slides are available here.
The goals and strategies within the plan were informed by two years of community conversation lead by Reaching Higher NH and deep research and analysis of the Manchester School District lead by 2Revolutions, which is linked below. Manchester Proud, a community-wide initiative to support Manchester’s students, schools, and city, began in 2017 as a conversation between a small group of Manchester residents and business leaders who believed the city’s future success depended on a school district that ensured equity and excellence for all of our students
This plan is the community’s vision for achieving that aspiration.
Manchester Proud released a draft of the plan in January and asked the community to submit questions and thoughts about the plan’s ideas via its website. Those questions and answers are available on Manchester Proud’s website.
The goals and strategies within the plan were prioritized by our Community Planning Group and informed by:
- Exhaustive community engagement led by our partner Reaching Higher NH that included door-to-door canvassing, community- and school-based listening sessions; and an online survey available in seven languages;
- Deep research and analysis of our school district by 2Revolutions, our educational planning partner;
- Collaboration with the Superintendent Dr. John Goldhardt and his leadership team; and
- The community’s Profile of a Successful Graduate on page 6 of the plan
We believe this plan –bold, aspirational and achievable –is the start, not the end of our community’s commitment to our students, schools, and city.
Community Engagement Reports from our partner Reaching Higher NH
Members of Manchester Proud Champions Council
Members and meeting minutes of Manchester Proud Community Planning Group
Manchester Proud Timeline