BOSC says goodbye to remote meetings

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Screenshot from the Aug. 24/25 BOSC meeting.BO

MANCHESTER, NH – The Manchester Board of School Committee (BOSC) has held its final remote meeting, at least for the foreseeable future.

In an 11-1 vote, the BOSC took a proposal by Leslie Want (Ward 4) off the table to reconsider bringing meetings back in person.

Only Arthur Beaudry (Ward 9) voted in opposition, expressing concern over the safety of meeting in person during prior attempts to end remote meetings in recent months. William Shea (Ward 7) had also been one of the voices of opposition during previous attempts to end remote meetings, but on the vote to take the proposal off the table, he abstained.

Shea told the BOSC he has not left his home in several months and has had no visitors other than family members, who have worn masks when seeing him in person. He added that he has not left his home due to health concerns with his wife, with the couple celebrating their 61st wedding anniversary on Monday.

“I want to do all I can to protect her,” he said. “If it was just me, I’d shoot down to city hall like a wildman, but I will always do what I can to protect her.”

Manchester Mayor Joyce Craig said a return to in-person meetings was essential for the sake of transparency as well as efficiency, with Monday’s seven-and-a-half hour meeting bleeding into Tuesday due to the sheer complexity and importance of topics being discussed and possibly due in part to the difficulty of communicating with other board members online.

Beaudry voiced concerns about non-public sessions for any committee members participating in the meeting remotely, as anyone not at the meeting would have to partially participate through Manchester Public Access Television.

An attempt to have a hybrid meeting with some members in person and others participating via video remotely failed miserably earlier in the summer, but Want told the BOSC that a recent test run worked fine on Friday.

The vote to approve Want’s proposal, which would require masks, six feet of social distancing and all other safety protocols at meetings, passed by a vote of 11-2, with Beaudry and Joseph Lachance (At-Large) voting in opposition.

The board has been meeting remotely since March, and in June said it would meet remotely until the conclusion of the pandemic.

Another proposal by Jim O’Connell (At-Large) for the BOSC to meet each week until December failed by a 10-3 vote.

O’Connell referenced the length of the meeting, as well as other recent long meetings as impetus for his proposal.

However, Manchester School District Superintendent Dr. John Goldhardt told the BOSC that preparing for weekly meetings would severely tax his staff. Beaudry and others on the board also noted that Craig, Want or five members of the board can call a special meeting at any time if an issue could not wait until the next scheduled meeting.

Only Jeremy Dobson (Ward 5) and Dr. Nicole Leapley (Ward 11) joined O’Connell in opposing a motion to receive and file the weekly meeting request, effectively killing it.

Jane Beaulieu (Ward 10) and Kelly Thomas (Ward 12) were absent for all three votes.

About this Author

andrewsylvia

Andrew Sylvia

Assistant EditorManchester Ink Link

Born and raised in the Granite State, Andrew Sylvia has written approximately 10,000 pieces over his career for outlets across Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont. On top of that, he's a licensed notary and licensed to sell property, casualty and life insurance, he's been a USSF trained youth soccer and futsal referee for the past six years and he can name over 60 national flags in under 60 seconds according to that flag game app he has on his phone, which makes sense because he also has a bachelor's degree in geography (like Michael Jordan). He can also type over 100 words a minute on a good day.