Amendment to proposed BOSC communications position fails after tie vote

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MANCHESTER, N.H. – In a rare 7-7 tie, an amendment to a proposed job description did not meet the approval of the Board of School Committee (BOSC) on Monday night.

The amendment addressed concerns over the politicization of an incoming director of communications and community relations for the school district.

Proposed by At-Large BOSC Member Rich Girard, the amendment would have modified language indicating that the new director would work directly with the School District Superintendent, Mayor and BOSC Vice-Chair. Instead, the new director would solely work with the School District Superintendent.

In addition to fears that the position would be used for partisan purposes, Girard also believed that the job description should not just seek applicants with newspaper or television experience, but also seek applicants with a background in radio or online media as well.

Ward 6 BOSC member Dan Bergeron went in the opposite direction, believing that the hired individual should work with not just those three people, but the entire board.

He also indicated that better public relations are needed for the district, hearing from local employers like Southern New Hampshire University that they are having difficulty finding applicants with families due to the current perception of Manchester’s schools.

“We’re doing a lot of great things in this district, but not a lot of people know about it,” he said.

In the vote, Bergeron opposed the amendment along with Mayor Joyce Craig, At-Large BOSC Member Pat Long, Ward 11 BOSC Member Katie Desrochers, Ward 10 BOSC Member John Avard, Ward 9 BOSC Member Arthur Beaudry and Ward 7 BOSC Member Ross Terrio.

Supporters included Girard as well as Ward 5 BOSC Member Lisa Freeman, Ward 4 BOSC Member Leslie Want, Ward 3 BOSC Member Mary Ngwanda Georges, Ward 2 BOSC Member Kathleen Kelley-Arnold, Ward 1 BOSC Member Sarah Ambrogi and Ward 8 BOSC Member Jimmy Lehoux.

Ward 12 BOSC Member Kelley Thomas was absent.

The original motion to accept the job description then passed in a voice vote, with Girard, Terrio and Freeman opposing.

Terrio also asked School District Superintendent John Goldhardt why the position was full-time. In response, Goldhardt indicated that quality applicants would not apply for anything less than a job advertised with the current salary and benefit specifications, adding that he is currently overwhelmed with communications needs from parents, staff and the media-at-large.

A description of the position can be found on the district’s website.