MANCHESTER, N.H. – After Manchester Mayor Joyce Craig provided her second inaugural address at the Rex Theater, she and the other Aldermen and Board of School Committee (BoSC) members elected by Manchester voters in November went over to City Hall to roll up their sleeves.
During the Aldermanic organizational meeting, the board found itself at an impasse on who to elect as its chairman.
Alderman At-Large Dan O’Neill received votes from Ward 5 Alderman Tony Sapienza, Ward 3 Alderman Pat Long, Ward 2 Alderman Will Stewart, Ward 1 Alderman Kevin Cavanaugh, Ward 11 Alderman Normand Gamache and Ward 10 Alderman Bill Barry.
Ward 4 Alderman Jim Roy received votes from Ward 6 Alderman Elizabeth Moreau, Ward 12 Alderman Keith Hirschman, Ward 9 Alderman Barbara Shaw, Ward 8 Alderman Michael Porter, Ward 7 Alderman Ross Terrio and Alderman At-Large Joseph Kelly Levasseur.
With both candidates also voting for themselves, the board was left in a 7-7 deadlock, with the mayor recessing the meeting to discuss a possible solution.
When the board returned, a second vote provided duplicate results, with Mayor Craig providing a tie-breaking vote in favor of O’Neil.
During the BoSC organizational meeting, another recess was needed after an inconclusive first round of voting for vice-chairman.
In that first round, Ward 4 BoSC Member Leslie Want received votes from Ward 3 BoSC member Karen Soule, Ward 6 BoSC member Dan Bergeron, Ward 8 BoSC member Peter Perich, Ward 10 BoSC member Jane Beaulieu and Mayor Craig.
Ward 9 BoSC member Arthur Beaudry received votes from Ward 2 BOSC Member Kathleen Kelley-Arnold, Ward 12 BOSC member Kelly Thomas, Ward 7 BOSC member William Shea and BOSC member At-Large Joseph LaChance.
BOSC Member At-Large Jim O’Connell received votes from Ward 1 BoSC Member James Porter, Ward 5 BoSC Member Jeremy Dobson and Ward 11 BoSC Member Dr. Nicole Leapley.
Following another recess, O’Connell removed his name from consideration for vice chair. In the second round of voting, Beaudry gained the vote of Perich, but O’Connell and the three people who voted for him shifted their support to Want, giving her the position in a 9-6 final vote.
After both results, motions were made to make the decisions unanimous, which passed on voice votes.
The BoSC also spent over an hour discussing their proposed amendments to their rules, with most of the discussion revolving around a proposed change to the Manchester School District’s policy regarding hiring principals, directors and assistant principals to provide more authority to Manchester School District Superintendent John Goldhardt.
Under state law, superintendents and school boards are required to nominate and employ any educator, but Beaudry argued that the BoSC should retain a significant role in the winnowing process of potential employees. While Beaudry voiced his confidence in Goldhardt’s abilities, he feared possible nepotism or cronyism that could arise from concentrating power in any one person.
He also stated that involving a subcommittee of BoSC members in the hiring process helped provide greater support for the superintendent to act when needed regarding employees without criticism that the superintendent did not provide initial due diligence when first hiring that employee.
Want replied by understanding Beaudry’s concerns on this topic, she replied that the BoSC has rarely disagreed with the superintendent’s judgment regarding nominations for positions.
She also responded to Beaudry regarding the mayor’s recommendation to consolidate the BoSC’s standing committees to four: Finance and Administration, Student Conduct, Teaching and Learning and Policy.
On the committee consolidation, Beaudry feared that the new Finance and Administration Committee, later amended to be the Finance and Sites Committee, would be overwhelmed with its new role as a composite of the old Finance and Building and Sites Committees, saying that merging the agendas of both committees could create average agendas of over 400 pages per meeting.
Mayor Craig replied her hope was that committee agendas would become more streamlined, with more responsibilities trusted to Goldhardt and his staff and the BOSC acting more as a source of guidance for Goldhardt.
Craig also responded to Bergeron’s concern over the lack of a standing committee for athletics by saying that nothing precluded the BoSC from creating short-term committees for specific topics. She added that athletics and other issues can be discussed within the four new standing committees, which would have greater latitude to discuss particular topics as needed while also relying more on Goldhardt’s expertise.