Community work sessions planned to discuss school redistricting proposal

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MANCHESTER, NH — Members of the community will have several opportunities in the coming weeks to ask questions and make comments on the Manchester School District superintendent’s draft proposal for the next phases of redistricting. Nine forums have been scheduled across the city, beginning on February 21 and ending on March 28. All parents, guardians, school employees, students, and other interested community members are welcome to attend any and all sessions. The full list of dates, times and locations is below and available online at mansd.org.

Dr. Bolgen Vargas introduced six draft recommendations to the Board of School Committee:

  • Replicate Parker-Varney personalized learning opportunities through an innovative network of the West Side schools
  • Establish grades 5-8 middle school model
  • Reduce class sizes
  • Adjust the school feeder pattern to send Beech Street and Wilson elementary students to McLaughlin and Central
  • Create preschool center at Memorial High School
  • Repurpose surplus space at high school level

The draft proposal is based on preliminary results from a comprehensive facilities study conducted by a local firm, CMK Architects. Among the early findings, there is enough space in the four middle schools to accommodate grades 5 through 8.

“A grades five to eight middle school education model has proven to work in other districts, including our neighbor, Goffstown,” said Dr. Vargas. “One of the benefits of establishing this in Manchester is that it will free up much needed classrooms in our elementary school buildings.”

The additional space created when the fifth grades move to middle school will allow for smaller class sizes in kindergarten through fourth grades, accomplishing another district-wide goal.

Another highlight of the superintendent’s draft plan is to create a preschool center at Memorial High School, which has surplus space. Currently, preschool students attend five elementary schools and the Bishop O’Neil Community Center. Centralizing the pre-k programs would help teachers collaborate more and allow therapists to use their time with students more efficiently. In addition, preschool transportation services could be streamlined and cost less. Under the draft proposal, the O’Neil Center would remain open for preschool.

Dr. Vargas will present detailed elements of his draft recommendations at every forum and take feedback.

“Involving the community and addressing concerns during this process is critical for success of any plan,” said Dr. Vargas. “The feedback we receive will help shape the final recommendations.”

The superintendent will present his final proposal to the Board of School Committee by early April.

Community Forum Schedule

  • February 21, 6-7 p.m. – Middle School at Parkside
  • March 7, 7:30 a.m. – Webster Elementary School
  • March 7, 6-7 p.m. – Northwest Elementary School
  • March 8, 4:30 p.m. – McLaughlin Middle School
  • March 14, 6-7 p.m. – Beech Street Elementary School
  • March 15, 6-7 p.m. – Memorial High School
  • March 20, 6-7 p.m. – Hillside Middle School
  • March 22, 6-7 p.m. – Wilson Elementary School
  • March 28, 6-7 p.m. – Parker-Varney Elementary School

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