MANCHESTER, N.H. – The Manchester Board of School Committee (BOSC) will now meet four extra times each year in sessions dedicated solely to deliberation following a decision made during their meeting on Tuesday.
The proposal to meet in quarterly “work session” meetings that would focus solely on deliberation was a compromise, with the initial proposal asking for every other BOSC meeting transforming into work session meetings, leaving the other meeting each month for voting on items.
Ward 9 BOSC Member Arthur Beaudry was the primary opponent to this proposal, stating that limiting voting on items to just one meeting a month could create problems when time-sensitive issues arise, especially regarding budgetary issues.
Manchester School District Superintendent Dr. John Goldhardt said that in previous school districts he served in, there were comparable work sessions where discussions were separated from voting, streamlining the meeting process. However, he also said that those boards did not have sub-committees like Manchester does, with Beaudry saying that the purpose of these work sessions is ultimately achieved at the sub-committee level.
Ward 4 BOSC Member Leslie Want was the chief proponent of the idea, saying that the work sessions would discourage “knee-jerk” reactions on topics and also would force school administrators to become more efficient in organizing their requests to the BOSC.
At-Large BOSC Member Jim O’Connell echoed Beaudry’s sentiments while Ward 6 BOSC Member Dan Bergeron and Ward 11 BOSC Member Dr. Nicole Leapley agreed with Want, with Leapley stating that the board should focus on larger policy issues and leave more mundane things to school department employees.
“At some point we have to stop just putting out fires,” said Leapley. “We need to think hard and long about what our job is, it’s not about micromanaging administration.”
Ward 7 BOSC Member William Shea and Ward 8 BOSC Member Peter Perich liked the concept, but did not like the proposed frequency of the meetings, leading to the compromise of quarterly meetings by Mayor Joyce Craig and O’Connell.
The BOSC voted unanimously to approve the motion, with Ward 12 BOSC Member Kelly Thomas absent.
The first quarterly work session meeting is expected in August or September.