MANCHESTER, N.H. – On Thursday, the Manchester School District Charter Commission re-approved a set of proposed amendments to the Manchester City Charter relating to the Manchester School District.
The re-approval came after concerns from the New Hampshire Attorney General’s office over the “mechanism” that would be used by voters to approve the proposed amendments.
Only one person, New Hampshire State Representative Mary Heath (D – Manchester Ward 7) spoke during the public hearing for the amendments, with Heath stating her gratitude for the Commission’s efforts over the last several months.
Comment on the amendments was limited among members of the Commission, with Commissioner Will Infantine calling the summaries of those amendments very professional.
Voters will ultimately be given those summaries to vote on this November barring any unforeseen circumstances, with five summaries in total.
The first summary changes the name of the Manchester Board of School Committee to the Manchester School Board and “School Committeeman” to “School Board Member.”
The second summary addresses amendments in Articles IV and VI of the City Charter to provide the School Board with fiscal autonomy and responsibility for proposing, approving, adopting, appropriating and overseeing the administration of the School District’s annual budget and capital budget, also giving it the authority to levy bonds. The Mayor and Board of Aldermen’s sole remaining role in regard to the school budget would come when the School Board seeks an override of the city’s expenditure or revenue cap.
The third summary puts the size of the board at 14 members: one for each ward and two at-large members, with a chairman and vacancies between elections appointed by the board as a whole. The mayor would no longer have a seat on the board, something Manchester Mayor Joyce Craig has supported in the past.
The fourth summary gives the board and district all the authority and responsibility of a school district under state law.
The fifth summary addresses the initial concerns from the Attorney General’s office, providing a change of Section 8.03 of the city charter to provide mechanisms to amend, revise or replace portions of the city charter in the future without legislation given that such amendments, revisions or replacements don’t violate state law.
A final report to the Manchester Board of Mayor and Aldermen is due Sept. 15.