MANCHESTER, N.H. – There are just a few weeks left before school resumes in the Queen City and Manchester’s new superintendent believes he is up to the challenge.
Before beginning his job on July 1, Manchester School District Superintendent Dr. John Goldhardt was executive director of the Salt Lake City School District in Utah for two years. Although Salt Lake has approximately 10,000 more students, Goldhardt sees many similarities, particularly when it comes to budgeting and demographics.
What he sees as the primary short-term task is standardization across every school in the city to ensure each student receives a quality education regardless of their address.
“We have 22 schools and in many ways we have 22 systems,” he says. “There are some things that should be autonomous, but there are other things that need to be more centralized with one of those things being what our students should know, understand and do.”
Budgeting also looks to be a key focus given the restraints of Manchester’s tax cap, uncertain state aid, aging infrastructure and continuing concern regarding teachers’ compensation.
Additionally, internal redistricting may arise as an issue due to changing enrollment figures and discussions on the role of the Manchester School of Technology when it comes to teaching Manchester’s older public-school students.
It’s too soon to tell what the future might bring when it comes to assigning certain students to certain schools, but Goldhardt has noted that no action will be taken without significant deliberation.
“When it comes to this issue, people are really passionate about their local schools and you can’t take that lightly. That’s a good sign, because it just means that people are really passionate about their schools. If they weren’t, I’d be worried,” he says. “Enrollments are projected to drop and that’s something we will have to address. I don’t know how right now, but it’s the elephant in the room that will have to be addressed eventually.”
Regardless of what might come, Goldhardt is thrilled with the reception he’s gotten so far during his few months on the job, along with the support he received from outgoing superintendent Dr. Bolgen Vargas.
“So far the people have been very welcoming, very gracious. There are a lot of folks that want me to do very well. They’re quite encouraging and they want us all to be successful,” he says. “I consider it an honor to be here, this is a great place to live. I look forward to the opportunities that are coming our way and I think we can do a lot of good.”