Can Manchester better finance schools, improve school board efficiency?
How are Manchester schools identifying students for special education? Should the school board focus on policy decisions and leave district management to school administrators?
These were some of the questions community members considered and voted on at a Manchester Proud forum Thursday night, Dec. 12, 2019 at Memorial High School.
We are holding similar events throughout December to finalize our plan for guiding public education decisions in Manchester over the next few years. At each session, we share our short list of ideas and ask audience members to identify their favorites. The ideas that garner the most support will guide our creation of the plan we present to the Board of School Committee on Feb. 20, 2020 at Memorial High School.
The next session will be held Dec. 18, 2019 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Institute for Art and Design at New England College, 148 Concord St., Manchester. Community members can also vote online at vote.manchesterproud.org.
Thursday night’s session focused on the way Manchester finances its schools and the structure, culture, and role of the Board of School Committee. In addition to approximately 15 community members, three current board members, Art Beaudry, Dan Bergeron, and Leslie Want, and one newly-elected member, James O’Connell, attended.
Michael Delaney, a member of Manchester Proud’s Community Planning Group, and Adam Rubin of 2Revolutions, a Manchester Proud partner, led the discussion.
Ideas for rethinking school financing included:
- Creating magnet schools to attract Manchester families who’ve left the district for charter schools or homeschooling
- Renting school space after hours for community events and higher education programming
- Offering paid pre-k and daycare during school hours, in space that is currently not used or is underused
- Adopting educational supports for students who need additional help, but not more expensive special education services
Ideas for improving the school board’s efficiency and support of schools included:
- Setting an expectation that the board will maintain decorum and focus on policy, not school management
- Changing the city charter to allow staggered board elections and a smaller number of board members, each representing more than only their ward
- Strengthening the relationship between the board and educators, students, and staff through regular school visits.
Contact Manchester Proud at email@example.com for more information.