To the Editor:
Given the recent veto of the teachers’ contract by Mayor Gatsas, I leave the Manchester School District and prepare to head to college in the fall with bitterness to the district and mayor, after such an impressive senior year. At the end of my senior year at Manchester Central, I could see hope in our teachers regarding their contracts. I remember hearing certain teachers point out that they would now be getting a raise for the first time in almost three years. I cannot wrap my head around Gatsas flatly vetoing the contract despite the School Board unanimously passing it, and the Aldermen’s approval in a 7-3 vote. What kind of sign does this give to the teachers, students, and to prospective families who may be moving into the city?
What kind of confidence in our teachers does the Mayor show if they have to return to school in the next three weeks to start another school year without a contract? Still, he expects them to work as hard as possible, shape our students’ lives, and make them better human beings. As a four-year student at Central, I can honestly state that every teacher I ever had gave students his or her best every day; every teacher or advisor I ever had built a one-on-one relationship with me as a student, and made sure that I understood the material. Why should they do this every day, 180 days a year, if their own boss cannot give them a contract?
As a student, whenever contract negotiations came up with the teachers I always sent up a prayer for hope because it is a distraction when teachers have to deal with drama that doesn’t need to exist. It is disheartening to see that some of the greatest human beings I have ever met in my life – people who inspire me to do great things – don’t get a sense from the city that they matter. I have witnessed Mayor Ted Gatsas stand in front of crowds and declare that the Manchester School District has the best teachers, but why should I believe a man who doesn’t back up his own employees by approving their contract?
Putting this in perspective, an additional argument must be brought to attention. Prospective families who have the option to move to Manchester or Hooksett in past years have chosen Manchester. If Manchester steers down the track it’s headed, families may take their kids to other school districts such as Bow or Derry or enroll them in private schools like Trinity or Bishop Guertin.
I like to believe that I am proof, just like many others, of how great and beneficial the Manchester School District is, to many. I attended Smyth Road, then Hillside, then moved on to Central. At each one of these schools I can name countless teachers who have impacted my life and made me a better student and person. The mayor has to realize that every action has a consequence. If this pattern continues, more and more teachers will leave this school district and the teachers who make Manchester so special will continue their legacy elsewhere.
In just a few weeks I move into college and classes will start. I will make new friends and get involved in new clubs, but one thing will not change: my education. The foundation I have made for myself in school has come directly from these teachers and my parents. There is no doubt in my mind that I will keep email correspondence with certain teachers, not only because they are great teachers, but because they are great people. These contract negotiations have effects, not only on the “teachers,” or the “students;” they have impacts on these human being’s life, and it is about time Gatsas realize a life is much greater than money.
Pete Nakos is a 2015 Central High School graduate. He will be a freshman this fall at Ohio University, studying journalism.