MANCHESTER, N.H. – The Manchester Board of School Committee (BOSC) Finance and Facilities Committee approved exploring usage of federal aid for additional renovations at Green Acres Elementary School.
Specifically, the committee is seeking to ascertain whether the Manchester School District can use Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief funding within the American Rescue Act, also known as ESSER III funds, that were given to the Manchester School District.
ESSER III funds are intended to help schools compensate for the impact of COVID-19, and ESSER III funds are being used to install some infrastructural improvements regarding ventilation, but the committee ordered district administration to ask the New Hampshire Department of Education whether that funding can also be used for new sprinkler systems as well.
The sprinkler system at Green Acres was cited as a critical need in Manchester School District Superintendent Dr. John Goldhardt’s facilities plan presentation several weeks ago.
BOSC Member Julie Turner (Ward 1) sought more information regarding the investigation, given that the district is seeking to use somewhere between $6 and $10 million for the renovations.
Manchester School District Assistant Superintendent Jennifer Gillis replied that the request for more information was preliminary, with additional details to be provided if the New Hampshire Department of Education believes that it is acceptable to use the ESSER III funding for the sprinkler systems, with the range accounting for potential differing sizes of the proposed infrastructural improvements.
The committee also requested that school district administration provide more information on its request to replace the district’s human resources officer with a “Chief Talent Officer.”
In the job description of the proposed Chief Talent Officer, the position would pay somewhere between $115,000 and $125,000 a year and oversee the human resources department and provide expertise regarding staffing when it comes to the district’s vision and strategic plan.
During the full BOSC meeting later in the evening, BOSC Member Dr. Nicole Leapley (Ward 11) stating that the ESSER III funding requirements are not vague and the need to ask the Department for Education for additional was superfluous. Goldhardt agreed, but noted that the funding must be released by the state to the school districts regardless of any request. BOSC Member Leslie Want (Ward 4) felt that the need to go to the state here was illogical.
Manchester Mayor Joyce Craig felt that it was inappropriate to approach the state before a clear list of needs has been identified. Leapley made a motion asking administration and the Finance and Facilities Committee clarify needs before moving forward. The motion passed unanimously in a voice vote.
A motion was made by BOSC Member James O’Connell (At-Large) to receive and file the Chief Talent Officer proposal, which passed on a voice vote, effectively killing the request.