Conflict of interest concerns pause discussion on facilities study

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MANCHESTER, NH – Discussion on a proposed study into assessment and planning of Manchester’s 22 school facilities was paused on Monday night after concerns about potential conflict of interest.

BOSC Vice Chairman Arthur Beaudry on Jan. 14, 2019. File Photo/Andrew Sylvia

9 Board of School Committee Member Arthur Beaudry moved to file and receive the proposed study, which would have evaluated the school district’s facility needs and opportunities.

Beaudry voiced concerns about including members of Matuszewski Architects and Lavallee/Brensinger Architects on the study’s team.

Beaudry also voiced concerns over the fact that this agenda item was submitted on Wednesday while the board’s rules require unanimous consent of all the board’s members for any agenda items added after Tuesday at noon.

Barry Brensinger, CEO of Lavallee/Brensinger, also served as coordinator of Manchester Proud while that group created a recommended strategic plan for the district.

Within the agenda packet accompanying the meeting, a stipulation was made that pro-bono guidance would be offered by Matuszewski and Lavallee/Brensinger on the condition that either firm not be excluded from the bidding process on future projects not connected to this specific RFP for the district’s facility needs assessment.

“Several months ago when this issue of a facility study came up, Lavallee/Brensinger said to the district and its leadership that we would not be submitting a proposal to provide those services,” said Brensinger. “We said from the beginning because of our work with Manchester Proud, we would not submit a proposal on this study. We went on to say that because we’re not going to compete, if the district would like our assistance in drafting an RFP and guidance on the planning process, we would be willing to provide those services on a pro-bono basis. That was the basis of our offer to participate.”

The plan itself did not go into significant detail regarding proposals for the district’s facilities, with Page 25 of the plan stating that foundational work is needed before a facility study could occur.

Beaudry was joined by Joseph Lachance (At-Large), Jim O’Connell (At-Large), James Porter (Ward 1), Kathleen Kelley-Arnold (Ward 2), Jeremy Dobson (Ward 5) and Kelly Thomas (Ward 12) in approving the receive and file motion, which effectively kills the plan.

The motion was opposed by Leslie Want (Ward 4), Dan Bergeron (Ward 6), Peter Perich (Ward 8), Jane Beaulieu (Ward 10), Dr. Nicole Leapley (Ward 11) and Mayor Joyce Craig.

Karen Soule (Ward 3) voted to abstain.

About Andrew Sylvia 1787 Articles
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 license 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.