MANCHESTER, N.H. – On Monday, the Manchester Committee on Joint School BuildingsJ will hold its second meeting since re-formation, this time to get an update and recap on Phase One of the Manchester School District Long-term Facilities Plan.
The centerpiece of Phase One is a brand-new Beech Street Elementary School in what is now Sheridan-Emmett Park. This new school will hold 734 students, all of the current students at Wilson Elementary and Beech Street and will be three stories tall with 106,450 sq. ft. of floor space. Aldermanic approval is needed for the transfer of the park for use of the school.
Originally, students from closing Wilson Elementary were set to be split between Beech Street and McDonough Elementary approximately one mile to the northwest. However, members of the Manchester Board of School Committee (BOSC) thought it would be more appropriate for Wilson students to be placed at the much closer Beech Street. There were also concerns about Beech Street’s antiquated version of an open layout format making it difficult for sunlight to get into certain classrooms. The new Beech Street is expected to emphasize courtyards and common spaces throughout the facility to help rectify this problem.
Phase One also holds expansions for the Manchester School District’s expansion of fifth grades into the city’s four public middle schools. Hillside Middle School will see a new 38,000 sq. ft. expansion at the rear of the building, McLaughlin Middle School will see a 35,850 sq. ft. two-floor expansion that will transform the current cul-de-sac entrance into a courtyard, Southside Middle School will see a 20,850 sq. ft. addition placed in its northern parking lot, and Parkside Middle School will see a 40,350 sq. ft. expansion in a playground area between it and Gossler Park Elementary that will also create a new courtyard.
The last major component is planning work for the city’s three public high schools, which will be reimagined as two “comprehensive” high schools as well as one additional magnet school for the arts. No decision has been made as to the final location for these schools, but the architectural firm SMMA has recommended that the site of Manchester Memorial High School serve as one of the comprehensive sites, area near Gill Stadium as another and either the current site of Manchester West High School or Manchester Central High School serving as the magnet school site.
In Monday’s meeting packet, SMMA re-included two proposals for the conceptualized Gill High School site, one behind Gill and JFK Coliseum that utilizes the former Beech Street site and a field next to Beech Street as well as a plan that builds a new JFK Colisseum in the field and utilizes the Beech Street and current JFK sites. The latter option would require a different funding mechanism than the bond introduced by the Board of Mayor and Aldermen (BMA) to fund Phase One, given Ward 5 Alderman Anthony Sapienza’s amendment prohibiting the use of funds on anything that could remove the current JFK Colisseum.
Modular classrooms will be required at all these sites, with delivery of these units expected in upcoming weeks.
Renovations and additions at Hillside and McLaughlin are expected to be completed by 2026 wile Beech Street, Parkside and Southside will conclude in 2027 and the non-Memorial comprehensive high school is planned for a target conclusion in 2030.
A joint meeting of both full BMA and BOSC is also set to discuss Phase One on March 4 at Memorial High School.