MANCHESTER, NH – “No” doesn’t have to be forever, or at least that’s the hope from the Manchester Board of School Committee.
Last month, the Manchester Board of Aldermen (BOA) said no to a request from the Manchester Board of School Committee (BOSC) to reorganize a $2.2 million bond that would aid in the Manchester School District’s plan to add fifth grade into all of the city’s middle schools, a key part of the district’s redistricting plan. The BOSC eventually decided to pay for the fifth-grade proposal at only one middle school without bonding On Monday however, the BOSC voted to send the bond proposal back to the BOA for another vote.
The new proposal, which asks for $1.8 million in bonding, came before the BOSC after members of the newly-elected BOA asked to revisit the issue at their Jan. 23 meeting, with Mayor Joyce Craig telling the members that they could not act on the issue without the BOSC’s recommendation.
Ward 7 BOSC Member William Shea and Ward 9 BOSC Member Arthur Beaudry expected the Aldermen would likely not change their mind, or at least not enough of them would change their mind to meet the ten-vote threshold needed for bond motions.
However, with many educators telling the BOSC that supplies are desperately needed and At-Large BOSC Member Joseph LaChance advocating for Manchester’s other middle schools to join Parkside as Grade 5-8 schools, the BOSC felt that it served the best interest of Manchester’s schools to try again and fund the fifth-grade proposal through bonds rather than reallocation of other budget line items.
“We have nothing to lose by trying,” said Ward 4 BOSC Member Leslie Want.
The motion passed 14-1, with only At-Large BOSC Member Jim O’Connell voting in opposition.
O’Connell hoped to revisit his request on Jan. 14 to revisit the idea of Grade 5-8 middle schools entirely. Mayor Craig shot this down, saying the matter had been settled and the only discussion on Monday would be toward how to pay for the Grade 5 renovations.
O’Connell also voiced concerns with certain elements of the proposed renovations, citing the use of former locker rooms as class space as well as fears that the new school size would require additional renovations in the future with things such as school libraries.