MANCHESTER, N.H. – On Monday night, Ward 6 Board of School Committee (BOSC) Member Ken Tassey initially attempted to force a reconsideration of last week’s decision by the Board of Mayor and Aldermen (BMA) to give tentative approval to the Manchester School District’s Facilities Plan.
During Monday’s meeting, Tassey’s comments centered around what he saw as a lack of community input in the first phase of the facilities process, which requests $290 million in bonds for a variety of building projects, most notably the construction of a brand new Beech Street Elementary School.
Tassey indicated that when community input was solicited, there was a desire for greater emphasis on Science/Technology/Engineering/Arts/Mathematics (STEAM) than there was during earlier discussions prior to obtaining community input.
He added frustration that a decision was not made closer to the first draft near the end of August, which recommended splitting students from the closing Wilson Elementary School into Beech Street and McDonough Elementary Schools rather than just Beech Street, citing crime statistics that he believes were not considered.
Ward 5 BOSC Member Jason Bonilla expressed disagreement with Tassey’s comments, saying that his words only emphasized the need to add focus on a part of the city Bonilla feels has been forgotten.
Bonilla, who represents the area near where the new Beech Street will be built, also stated that the community had been given ample time to provide their comments and data and other information was given to the community and to the board.
Tassey replied that he is not opposed to investment in the center city, and just wanted additional discussion on factors related to the process.
By the end of the discussion, Tassey withdrew his motion to reconsider the previous recommendation to the BMA. No action was taken.
A second vote by the BMA will be required to finalize the bonding process and additional action by the BMA is needed to allow the usage of parkland across the street from the current Beech Street Elementary School for construction of the new school.