Community Planning Group Minutes, May 7, 2019

Location: Millyard Museum, Manchester Historic Association

Community Planning Group Work Group Members Present: Amy Allen, Joede Brown, Charles Chretien, Donna Crook, Michael Delaney, Amanda Egan, Diane Fitzpatrick, Abigail Gemme, Jenn Gillis, Norma Gonzalez, Will Kanteres, Liz Kirwan, Katie Labranche, Nicole Lora, Lizabeth MacDonald, Deo Mwano, Kimiya Parker-Hill, Anthony Poore, Forrest Ransdell, Mike Skelton, Meredith Young

Finance Exploratory Group: Denny Ryan, Greg Bird, Wayne Robinson

Governance Exploratory Group: Selma Naccach Hoff, Max Latona, Tim Soucy, Susan Huard

Manchester Proud Champions Council: Arthur Sullivan, Pawn Nitichan, Bob Baines, Ellie Cochran, Mary Heath, Rick Loeffler

Also present: Barry Brensinger of Manchester Proud, Evelyn Aissa, Liz Canada, Annmarie Timmins of Reaching Higher NH.

CPG members not present: Christina Bui, Rev. Eric Jackson, Patricia Lynott, James O’Connell, Michael Porter, Trinidad Tellez, Anna Thomas

Meeting came to order at 5:30 p.m.

Topic: Community Engagement Data Discovery

The Community Planning Group, Champions Council and Exploratory Groups (Finance and Governance) had their first look at the data from the Community Engagement Process. Liz Canada, Director of Policy and Practice for Reaching Higher NH, guided the group’s deep exploration of the data through individual reflection exercises and both small and whole group discussion.

The data shared included survey results and community feedback gathered at listening sessions.

-The community comments shared are the honest findings of the community engagement process.

-The information reflects community memb

er’s experiences and realities and should not be viewed as “opinions.”

-Everyone is here to learn, listen and hear from the community – not to debate what has been shared.

Attendees spent an hour reading the data and taking notes on their own impressions, feelings and takeaways.

During the remaining 90 minutes, attendees worked in small groups, sharing their takeaways and exploring how the data should inform the creation of a strategic plan as well as their own work.

In terms of finances, Manchester Proud needs to know from the community what it needs in a budget and where it sees funding shortfalls.

The Champions Council needs to continue receiving feedback from the community, finding a way to involve local businesses in the conversation, and building trust between the community, schools and city leadership. The Council also discussed increasing voter turnout as another form of community feedback.

CPG is committed to:

   being transparent, presenting a plan with a clear vision and finding a way to preserve the individuality of the city’s 22 schools while also ensuring that students have equitable access across the district.  “We cannot afford to fail.”

   using community feedback to learn how community members define student success, and ensuring the plan is a true reflection of the community’s desires.

   creating a concrete strategic plan that reflects all aspects of the community and can be sustained over time. “We are in this for the long haul.”

   viewing the data as the heart of the community and using it to guide and inform the development of a strategic plan.

   understanding that not everyone has the same needs.

   validating that the data revealed distrust and prioritizing the need to rebuild trust.

   understanding that the data refle

cts community support for the staff and administration of the local schools but less support for the school district and Board of School Committee.

   -exploring ways to improve and increase engagement between the community and the school district and BOSC. “Effective governance promotes trust and helps our school flourish.”

As a final exercise, audience members were invited to share their answers to the question, “I used to think _______. Now I think _______.

“I used to think this was about a strategic plan. Now I think it’s about uniting the community.”

“I used to think I had all the answers. Now I don’t think I have any.”

“I used to think this was an insurmountable problem. Now I think it’s doable.”

“I used to think there was no hope for change in this district. Now I think there is a chance for change.”

“I used to think the local school administrators were seen as negative. Now I think that is not the case. There is a lot of positive feeling about local school administration.”

Meeting adjourned at 8:30 p.m.