Voters Guide: School Charter Commission

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Choose 9 candidates to sit on the School Charter Commission


Amy Allen, Assistant Superintendent Manchester School District

Qualifications: 

I am a 10-year resident of Manchester, NH. From 2009 to December of 2012, I was the Assistant Principal of Student Services at Hillside Middle School. In January of 2013, I was hired as the Principal of Parker-Varney Elementary. I served as Principal until November of 2017, and then I moved to the district office as the Assistant Superintendent. I hold a CAGS in Educational Leadership and serve on several community boards. Prior to coming to Manchester, I worked with OdysseyNH to help open NH’s first recovery high school.

Why are you interested in sitting on the School Charter Commission? 

As a parent of a student who is being educated in the Manchester public school system (Green Acres, McLaughlin Middle, and Memorial), I have a vested interest in education. I am committed to making sure every student is on a path to graduate and educationally equipped to lead a successful life. I believe we need policies and systems which provide an outstanding return on the community’s investment in their schools.


Robert “Benge” Ambrogi, Chief Operating Officer, Episcopal Church of New Hampshire

Qualifications: 

I have spent over 30 years in leadership roles in the defense, medical, and robotics industries.  In those roles I have had to make strategic decisions on where to invest scarce resources, and I have also had to have an understanding of how an organization works to achieve its goals.  I believe my experience as a technology executive and a non-profit leader have given me the experience necessary to be an effective contributor to the School Charter Commission.

Why are you interested in sitting on the School Charter Commission? 

I am running for School Board Charter Commission because I believe we have a disconnect between responsibility and authority on the School Board.  The School Board is responsible for educating our children, but they do not have the authority to allocate the resources necessary to do so. As a result, the School Board cannot be held accountable for the achievement of our students.  In the end, we get finger-pointing between all of the parties involved: the School Board, the Board of Mayor and Alderman, the School Administration, and the Teacher’s Union. Because of this lack of accountability, we have not significantly moved the needle on student achievement in many years.

If we design a charter that aligns responsibility with authority, the School Board will be forced to make the hard tradeoffs between the cost of education and the results in student achievement.  This brings about a mindset of investment, where the aim is to maximize return, rather than just an expense to be minimized, or alternatively as teachers and staff to be maximized. If we invest more in education, we should expect more.  If there is no return on our investment in education, the voters have a legitimate reason, and a responsibility, to elect different board members who will deliver that return.

Having said all that, I don’t presume that the way to create that alignment is creating a separate taxing authority for the School Board.  There are many ways of aligning responsibility and authority, and I am open to all ideas. Job No. 1 on this commission will be to listen and to be open to all ideas.  I am registered as undeclared and I do not have any allegiance to any political party or constituency. My only allegiance is to the students and the citizens of Manchester.


Sarah Ambrogi, Attorney

Qualifications: 

I have served for the past 10 years (5 terms) on the Manchester Board of School Committee (the school board).  I have gained an in-depth understanding of both the funding challenges which annually face the school district and how the school district’s budget operates.  I also bring my experience as an attorney in close reading and interpretation of official documents such as the charter and state statutes.

Why are you interested in sitting on the School Charter Commission? 

Having spent 10 years seeing first hand how the process of funding our schools currently works, I am very interested in exploring whether changing that process by making the district its own taxing authority would in fact ultimately help improve our schools’ outcomes.  This is an important opportunity for our school district, and I would like to be part of helping the commission make wise and informed decisions.


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Tim Baines, Owner/Operator- Mint Bistro, Ward 3 Alderman- City of Manchester

Qualifications:

As a community leader, lifelong resident, and Manchester Alderman, I have been able to bring individuals of all political leanings together, and have been a consensus builder.

Why are you interested in sitting on the School Charter Commission? 

I am a lifelong resident of Manchester and a graduate of our public schools. Currently, I have two nephews in the public schools and care deeply that all of the children in this community receive an education that is second to none. This is an important time for us to take a look at the governing structure that we have in place, and make changes that will ultimately better our educational system, and our community as a whole. It is essential that we take a look at successes in other communities, accurately assess what is currently working and what is not in order to make decisions that will improve the educational experience in Manchester.


Amy Bradley, Organizer

Qualifications:

My qualifications to sit on the School Charter Commission: I served on the Manchester School Board, I am a PTO member at McLaughlin and I coach local sports. I am a strong advocate for our children, teachers and schools. I will bring the knowledge of being in our schools and seeing first hand what is needed and what is working well. I will work in collaboration with the community and others who sit on the commission.

Why are you interested in sitting on the School Charter Commission? 

I am interested in sitting on the School Charter Commission because I have a lot to give back to the community that I was raised in, and am now raising my daughters in. I know what it means to work together for a better future and how very important it is for our children and the vitality of this city. I want a charter that allows our education system to be the best it can be and I can help make that happen.


Joede Brown, Accounting Technician

Qualifications:

I am a mother with one child who graduated from the Manchester district and one who is currently enrolled. I am a member of my daughter’s school PTO and I am also a member of Manchester Proud’s Community Planning Group. On the corporate side, I have a tax and accounting background of more than 25 years. My experience includes saving companies money, analyzing cash flows and corporate taxes. My vested interest in seeing all of Manchester’s students thrive, my practical financial acumen, the willingness to work with the eight other commissioners in a collaborative effort to come to the best solution for Manchester makes me a top candidate to sit on the School District Charter Commission. 

Why are you interested in sitting on the School Charter Commission? 

The school district is in a forward motion of change. Innovative ideas and expanding programs are not best served by a school charter that is stagnant. Manchester is growing and evolving and with that, needs change. The district sees these needs firsthand.  It is time to trust the district to not only teach and mold our students but to trust them to create a productive budget while being fair to the taxpayers.


John Clayton, Executive Director, Manchester Historic Association

Qualifications: 

Earlier in my career, I was an adjunct faculty member at Daniel Webster College and New Hampshire College, where I also served as Associate Dean of College Relations, so my love for and commitment to education runs deep. Personally, I have a bachelor’s degree from Northeastern University, a Master’s Degree from Boston University and received a Rotary Foundation Fellowship and spent a year of study in Great Britain at University College in Cardiff, Wales, and believe I am qualified to serve on the School Charter Commission.

Why are you interested in sitting on the School Charter Commission? 

As a proud graduate of Manchester’s public schools (Gossler Park and West High School), I want current students in Manchester schools to have the same opportunities that my parents, my siblings, I and my wife and daughter had here in our city. In my capacity at the Millyard Museum, I work closely with teachers and administrators to make sure that students in our schools are engaged and excited about learning.


Lou D’Allesandro, NH State Senator

Qualifications:

Long-time educator, public servant, former school board member, former chair of New England Board of Higher Education.

Why are you interested in sitting on the School Charter Commission? 

The most important thing we can do is to provide a quality public education.  I believe my past experience provides a good background for this position.


Ben Dion Teacher & Host of the Weekly Dion (radio show on 95.3 FM WMNH)

Qualifications:

I am a lifelong resident of Manchester who cares about the overall direction of the school district. I am currently teaching at Manchester Memorial High School where I also attended. My wife and I will be staying in Manchester to build our family and plan on sending our future children to schools in the Manchester School District. The future of the schools in Manchester are very important to us and I believe that the School Charter Commission could play a vital role in moving the school district in the right direction. 

Why are you interested in sitting on the School Charter Commission? 

I am interested in sitting on the School Charter Commission because I would bring thoughtful and unique ideas to the commission. The School Charter Commission will be very crucial to the future of the school board and school district. The commission should have people on it who are invested in the overall success of the school system and moving it forward in the right direction. I believe the commission could play a key role in how the school board operates and allocates funds for its own budget. It is important that the commission look at many options for amending the charter so that it can assist the school board in moving Manchester schools forward.


Lisa Freeman (Did not respond to questionnaire.)


Mary Freitas

Qualifications:

I have been a classroom teacher, reading specialist, Title I coordinator (Manchester), parent and grandparent of Manchester public school students. I am a state legislator.

I am interested in enhancing the support of our schools at a time when I hear too much about families leaving our city for better schools. We need to involve ourselves in any way that will change these perceptions. I want to be a …


Jim Gaudet, Private Security/Loss Prevention

Qualifications: 30+ year city homeowner and taxpayer; Chair of the Concerned Taxpayers of Manchester; Ward 8 election official; retired career law enforcement officer with strong understanding of municipal budgets and financing.

Why are you interested in sitting on the School Charter Commission? 

Given that many elected Democrat aldermen are unwilling to abide by the City Tax Cap, it is vital that Manchester taxpayers have representation on the Charter Commission who will make sure that their interests will be protected from those tax and spend liberals who – despite evidence to the contrary, equate more spending with better education. Additionally, there needs to be appropriate, controlling language in any proposed charter that sets a similar tax cap and includes definitive disciplinary provisions (including removal from office) for certain Charter violations. I will be a voice for those positions.


Carla Gericke, Lawyer, writer, community leader

Qualifications:

I have 25+ years of real-world experience working at Fortune 500 companies (as in-house counsel), and successfully managing large non-profit organizations. I am very results-driven.  

I serve on several local non-profit boards, co-host Manch Talk and the Told You So podcast, and speak nationally on issues relating to Big Government. I have appeared on WMUR, CNN, Fox,  BBC, and been featured in GQ, the Economist, the New York Times, and elsewhere. I live with my husband of 25 years and our rescued dog in West Manchester. 

Career highlights:

* Former attorney with 15+ years non-profit management experience

* Charismatic and visionary leader with strong community support

* Entrepreneurial self-starter who excels at successfully completing projects

* Excellent interpersonal, written, and public speaking skills

* Strategic/creative/independent thinker: Law degree and M.F.A. in Creative Writing

* Named one of NH Magazine’s 2014 “Remarkable Women”

Full resume.

Why are you interested in sitting on the School Charter Commission? 

As a former lawyer, I will be able to contribute to the more technical aspects of drafting a new Charter. As a grassroots community leader, I will bring fresh ideas to the table. As a Manchester taxpayer, I will balance the needs of the schools with the needs of everyone in town. I will work with anyone, and believe more choices result in happier people. I want you to be happy, and ask for your vote. 


Gary Hamer

Gary Hamer, Director of Service Operations- Hanover Insurance

Qualifications

I have been invested in the Manchester community all my life. I am a graduate of the Manchester School System. I was an active member of the PTG at Parker Varney School and the Middle School at Parkside. I have worked in the private sector all my life where I have been successful, found solutions to problems, implemented change  and brought people together in a collaborative manner. 

Why are you interested in sitting on the School Charter Commission? 

The way our schools are funded in Manchester is antiquated and needs to be fixed.  The budget process is madness every year. The Board of School Committee should be made fully accountable for the success of our schools and to the taxpayers of Manchester. Under the current structure this is not happening. How we fix this is the question.

The members of this commission will need to examine the pros and cons of allowing the Manchester School district to set its own autonomous budget. They will need to be impartial and will need to take an open minded approach as they hear testimony from city residents and key stakeholders. Ultimately they will need to present a solution to the voters of Manchester. A solution that the majority of voters will support. This commission will need to be collaborative and may at times need to compromise in order to come up with a solution that the majority of voters will support. 

Fresh ideas need to be brought to the table by fresh faces not the same people that have perpetrated the current situation over the years. Voices from the community need to be heard. I want to be one of those voices.


Jon Claude Hopwood, Writer-Editor

Qualifications:

As a journalist, I have followed the Board of the School Committee deliberations and have interacted with School Board members, Manchester School District personnel, teachers and teachers union officials for the better part of a decade. 

I am a product of the Manchester School District, having attended the old Varney school (for kindergarten) before going to the old Parker School for grades 1 and 2, which was a walk up the hill on Bowman Street, past the graveyard. (My grandmother and father both attended Parker and Varney.) 

After being sent back down Bowman street to Varney for grades 3 through 5, I was part of the first class to graduate from the new Parker Varney School (Class of 1971), which didn’t have any walls then. That was a truly bad idea, but it was corrected. Then, it was off to Parkside — then called a “junior high” — and off to my father’s alma mater, the “West Side High School” (as the lintel over the east side door in  he old building proclaims). I’m a “Blue Knight,” Class of 1977.

I believe that neighborhood schools are important.

Over my time covering the board, I’ve researched both previous Charter Commissions and the Conduct Board inquiry of a Board of the School Committee member that defined the parameters of the School Board and its members.  I have a thorough understanding of the School Board as an institution and as a dynamic body interacting with the city and state, public and private schools, teachers and their union, and students and parents. I believe I can be a valuable resource on the School Charter Commission.

Why are you interested in sitting on the School Charter Commission?

Traditionally, the Board of Mayor and Aldermen have ignored the Board of the School Committee, as BMA members do not want to get involved in what they consider the minutiae of public school spending and school management. City Charter revisions concerning the Board of the School Committee and the Manchester School District cannot be justified by the laziness of the Aldermen. 

The voters of the city must be wary of attempts to make an end-run around City Charter-mandated  spending restrictions (the “tax cap”) by giving the Board of the School Committee the ability to establish itself as a taxing and bonding authority. The capital expenditures exemption from the tax cap currently enjoyed by the Board of Mayor and Aldermen should not be given to the School Board.  

Teachers deserve a fair contract. Public schools are the #1 asset marketing a city or town to those thinking of moving to a community. Thus, teachers should be considered a capital asset marketing our schools. By rationalizing the process of teacher contract negotiation, a process that always becomes a debacle due to the flaws built into the system by the previous Charter Commission, we will vastly improve our schools.  

The Board of Mayor and Aldermen retains the ultimate authority in the City of Manchester, under the City Charter, for all spending, including that of the Board of the School Committee. It could take over the teachers contract negotiations the day you read this – which is NOW – if they wanted to. They lack the will. 

The School Charter Commission should not be used to stealthily diminish the power of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen because of flawed politicians who lack the will to do the right thing, or are enthralled to special interests, or who are driven by political ideology or their appetites for power. The School Charter Commission should not be used to give the Queen City’s career politicians who dominated the Board of Mayor and Aldermen an “out” from making tough decisions on spending. 

The Aldermen already have shunned making any decision at all on the teachers contract, which they are allowed to do. Why allow them to shun their Charter-bound responsibilities for governing for perpetuity, just because too many of this generation’s crop of pols is a bad bunch? 

Their failure to govern is bad for democracy. It should not be institutionalized. 

The issue that has to be recognized is the lack of trust between the public and the School Board, a state of affairs that I believe is justified.  The current legal framework of the Board of the School Committee is flawed. Like a house built on a bad foundation, the “School Board” teeters on the edge of collapse. 

We have to shore up that foundation. It is not hard to do. But first, we must admit that the problem exists. 

The City of Manchester’s fabled inability to address such issues as sexual violence and gangs in our public schools is not a result of the Queen City being hexed or bewitched, it is a result of a flawed School Committee Charter.  When one reads the deliberations of the 1995-96 Charter Commission, the very dysfunctions that plague the Board of the School Committee where predicted because of flawed proposals that went forward and were enacted into law.

The demagoguery of certain political players who have politicized the Board of the School Committee, coupled with the failure of other establishment politicians to engage in a public discussion of these flaws sowed distrust in the public. The last elected commission tackling School Board issues failed. We cannot afford to have this one fail.  

There has been little public discussion about the School Charter Commission and the change in state law that would enable the Board of the School Committee to take over the Board of Mayor and Aldermen’s role in setting the property tax rate, as regards school financing. This Commission is being set-up to fail, which is a shame.  

I will not support any attempt to modify CC 6.15 Section B “Exception to budget increase limitation” that would enable the Board of the School Committee to break the revenue cap by approving capital expenditures, currently exempt from the “tax cap.”

We need to reform the Board of the School Committee to eliminate the dysfunctions created by the too-powerful position of vice-chair and reduce the ability of demagogues to manipulate the BOSC for partisan political ends by eliminating the at-large positions. 

The School Board should be about community and our neighborhoods. I feel that a reformed School Board might be trusted to set the School Budget within the parameters of the revenue cap if the dysfunctions are eliminated.


Will Infantine, Owner of Aspen Insurance Agency, Manchester, NH

Qualifications:

I have been involved with City Government for the past 20 years. I served in the NH Legislature for 14 years as one of the Ward 6 Representatives.  As a State Representative I sponsored the law allowing the School District to become a Department of the City.

I have served on the Manchester Water Commission and was elected to the 2012

Charter Commission. I understand City Government and have experience with how a Charter Commission works. 

Why are you interested in sitting on the School Charter Commission? 

I would like to be a member of the Charter Commission to insure that any plan that is submitted to the electorate for a vote contains the proper checks and balances and will adhere to the spirit of the current tax cap. Good government has checks and balances that control how it works. A split government where one side has no boundaries would be more harmful to the City than helpful.


Albert Jernigan, Skilled Professional

Qualifications:

My best qualifications for the Charter School Commission will be the will to listen and understand the topic at hand, the desire for a positive outcome, and negotiation. Another qualification for me and like everyone else seeking to sit on this Commission is  I am taxpayer of Manchester who wants to see the best possible education that this city can provide.

Why are you interested in sitting on the School Charter Commission? 

My interests, in order, lies in education, accountability and the tax cap. First, providing the best education possible. Second,  I believe the School Board should have accountability to someone. Third, the Tax Cap. My interest for this Commission lies in education, not personal gain, not to win a seat, not to make anything great again, just the best possible education for the ALL the children of Manchester.

Amber Jodoin (Did not respond to questionnaire).


Joseph Lachance, General Education Teacher at Easter Seals

Qualifications:

Former state representative and current high school teacher in the private sector.  I hold two Master’s degrees from SNHU, former police officer, retired federal employee and veteran of the US Army.

Why are you interested in sitting on the School Charter Commission? 

Very concerned about the direction of the School Charter Commission.  Protection of the city taxpayer is most important. Transparency during this process is important.


Jimmy Lehoux, Subcontractor Ambassador (Procon)

Qualifications:

I am a tax-paying resident of Manchester. I have two kids in the Manchester public school system and I am also the current school board rep for Ward 8.

Why are you interested in sitting on the School Charter Commission? 

There is a lot that needs to be addressed that is currently not in the charter. I feel I can give a good perspective to these issues and set up the district for future success.


Pat Long, Retired

Qualifications: 

The School Charter Commission will be reviewing and making recommendations to the voters on how best to GOVERN our School District. (not educational policy) I’ve been involved for 14 years with governing entities as in State Representative, Alderman and Board of School Committee. I can bring to the commission what I believe works and what holds us back.

Why are you interested in sitting on the School Charter Commission? 

The School Charter Commission has the opportunity to change the governance of our district in positive and forward-moving ways. Currently, the district’s charter is overseen by the State, I firmly believe that Manchester is capable of running its own district without asking permission from the State on Manchester School District changes. Education is constantly evolving and often times quickly, Manchester should be able to make those changes by themselves. I’m also interested in reviewing the Budget process has in the Board of Mayor and Aldermen determine the total appropriation for our school district. I believe the BOSC has the knowledge to determine the appropriations it needs to move our school district where they believe benefits our students and the community.


Mike Lopez, Retired

Qualifications:

Alderman for 12 years, chairman of the board for 8 years. served on two charter  commission 

Why are you interested in sitting on the School Charter Commission? 

Serve our community like I always have with my knowledge and experience.


Susan C. Lord, Retired Teacher

Qualifications:

I have recently retired from teaching in the Nashua School District.  I have 38+ years experience in education. I hold a Master of Education degree from Antioch University.  I have served on the district-wide school budget committee while I was actively teaching in Nashua. Currently, I am a substitute teacher in both Nashua and Manchester.  While I am kept very busy subbing, I do manage to set aside time to spend with my family especially my 3 beautiful granddaughters. I can offer valuable knowledge to the School Charter Commission based on my many years of teaching experience.  I have the time, energy and dedication to do so at this point in my life now that I am retired.  

Why are you interested in sitting on the School Charter Commission? 

As I have always said, while I was teaching in Nashua, that I want to have a part in the decision making in all aspects of my job that are required of me to do and abide by.  I felt I had to be comfortable with any decision that was made and what was expected of me. I want a voice that could be heard for myself as well as for my fellow teachers. I come to this commission as a new member.  I see a bright future in all aspects of education and all that makes a school district go above and beyond for the students in our great community of Manchester. This can be accomplished with the right elected leadership for this School Charter Commission.  


Shannon Moloney, High School Teacher

Qualifications:

My qualifications are unique because I am currently a math teacher at Memorial High School. I believe that I will be able to bring a different perspective to the Commission. I am in school every single day, and I know what the schools and students need and want.

Why are you interested in sitting on the School Charter Commission? 

I would like to be more involved in the community. I have been watching School Board and Alderman meetings for years and am ready to take more of an active role. I also believe that this School Charter Commission has the ability to change the Manchester School District in a positive way, depending on their findings.


Candace Moulton, Registered Nurse

Qualifications: I am a Registered Nurse, mom of two kids in the district, and I have a past history of substitute teaching and tutoring experience. I am a licensed educator.

Why are you interested in sitting on the School Charter Commission? 

Since I am also running for School Board, I have a vested interest in ensuring the best for the students and educators. I would like to have a role in doing what is helpful for our schools.


Glenn RJ. Ouellette, Owner of QCE MCAM Media Global Service & Part Time at Home Depot.

Qualifications:

I have been an Assistant Alternative Teacher Aide for Profoundly Retarded Children & a Mental Health Worker 1 at a School Public Education System. I have been involved in Charter Commissions before. I am a problem solver, not just throwing money at the problems.

Why are you interested in sitting on the School Charter Commission? 

We too often talk about how bad our public education is within Manchester, yet we get the job done pretty well with our limited resources. My major concerns are that in seven years’ time we have not done a good job in getting our students to stay in school as 27 percent of our High School Students don’t graduate at all. One of the reasons is because we do a poor job at getting our students to school each day and where poverty continues to rise in our city. Today Manchester’s poverty stands at 36 percent – up 5 percent in two years and where 67 percent of our students get free and reduced lunch – up 10 percent in two years caused mostly by the increasing poverty and at an alarming rate of rent increases of 5 percent per year and no affordable housing built in that last three years due to our city not having a vision to move our city forward. 

There is a group of School Charter Candidates who want to add some $93 million tax dollars in one year to upgrade them to where they think it ought to be compared to other NH High Schools. 

That will not work, because just throwing money at our problems alone without a plan doesn’t solve our public school problems. It will only add $1-2,000 tax dollars to your tax bills without a plan to fix the very problems of our schools. We need a 10-year plan that works before adding those property tax millions that will be wasted without such a plan ahead of the money. 

Another group of School Charter Candidates want to sell off our existing high schools (of which we are still paying the bonds of the last expansions of our four high schools where today they are too big to fill) in favor of building a $200 million mega high school that will take away student choices and any competition in music – the arts and sports and harder to keep our students safe. Making our students learn like they are robots without learning to think for themselves is not the American way of teaching our students a good education at all. 

Then there is a third group of candidates who would want to destroy public education as we know it. Their thoughts on educating our students stand only with charter & religious school for those who can afford it, leaving the 67 percent of our city students living in poverty to be left behind. The 35 percent of families in poverty could never afford paying for their children’s education. So where does that leave them? Out in the cold and you call that an equal education system.  

Today there are rumblings of untapped potentials within our Board of School Committee that create more dysfunctions and allow the politics to rule instead of common sense and the will of you the voters and parents of our school children.

And it makes people restless that the status quo at the school committee level – is holding back the needed energy to move our educational system forward like an anchor.

It’s time we stop settling. It’s time we stop believing what others perceive us to be. It’s time to become what we’re destined to be: A world-class public school system. Plus 86 percent of all school city funding goes to salaries – benefits and pensions. That’s too much of a cost to burden and too little left for what is needed to solve our public education problems. We must continue to advocate for our city students to get a fair and equal education – no Matter their Income Status


Matthew Ping, Real Estate Broker

Qualifications: Property Manager, and resident in the City of Manchester.

Why are you interested in sitting on the School Charter Commission? 

As a Real Estate Broker and Property Manager I can see the direct impact this charter commission could have on families and the community in general.


Andre Rosa, Software Developer

Qualifications:

I am an engineer with a Computer Science, Bachelor Science degree, and it makes me well suited for understanding the effectiveness of policies based on data and statistics.

Why are you interested in sitting on the School Charter Commission? 

As a concerned citizen, I am worried that a clash of ideological determinants and political cliques will recommend policies that will negatively affect Manchester’s kids and, indirectly/counter-intuitively, everyone else too. As a counter-force, I will be, hopefully, one of many members, communicating and digesting all arguments that are backed by solid data in good faith.


William Roy (Did not respond to questionnaire).


Shane Rozamus, Teacher

Qualifications: I always wanted to be involved in education, dating back to my time as a student at Manchester High School Central. I was particularly interested in working in Manchester because of the diversity, history and the unique needs of the community.  I was able to achieve my goal, and I have now been involved in education for 11 years as a substitute teacher, a paraprofessional and as a certified teacher. Ten of my eleven years were spent in the Manchester School District, so I have a unique perspective of what is happening inside of Manchester’s school and a strong understanding of what the schools need to be as successful as they can be.  Watching the Board of School Committee and the Board of Mayor and Alderman very closely for the past 10 years have shown me that new voices and ideas are necessary to move the District in a positive direction, and I believe I have the educational experience, knowledge and ideas that can help to spur that positive change. 

Why are you interested in sitting on the School Charter Commission? 

Working in the Manchester School District was always a goal of mine, but I needed to move on after years of frozen steps and frustration with school funding.  Despite leaving the Manchester School District, I am still highly invested in the District, its outcomes, and especially the students. Sitting on the School Charter Commission would allow me to continue to advocate for the students of Manchester despite plying my trade in a different district, and it would allow me to bring proposals to the city’s voters that I believe are common sense and in the best interest of the educational system.  Proposing ways to consolidate the District’s access to city services, allowing the Board of School Committee to have a greater say in the budgetary needs of the schools and identifying potential solutions to the problems that have perpetually plagued the district are the priority issues that I believe the School Charter Commission should be addressing. 


Karen Soule, retired educator

Qualifications: I have the background and experience particularly as Superintendent of Schools in Somersworth to bring to the  Charter Commission.

Why are you interested in sitting on the School Charter Commission?

I am interested because I want the Commission to investigate this information to determine what will be in the best interests of our schools and our community.


Kathleen Sullivan, Retired

Qualifications:

I served on the Manchester Charter Commission that wrote the current city charter, so I have experience working in a collaborative manner to review and write charters. Although I am now retired, I practiced law for over 35 years, so I also have experience interpreting the law.

Why are you interested in sitting on the School Charter Commission? 

I am a lifelong resident of Manchester and a graduate of Memorial High School. I also am a strong supporter of public education and believe that Manchester’s students should have an excellent education. Strong governance is necessary for that to happen. I also want to give back to a city and school district that have been good to me.


Ross Terrio, Hospital Pharmacist

Qualifications:

Current school board member, former state representative, Parent of 3 children who attended Manchester schools, former volunteer teacher’s aide.

Why are you interested in sitting on the School Charter Commission? 

Two reasons: (1) I think the current system provides more money to our schools than the proposed law will provide in practice. Under the current system, Manchester has taken some of the city-side money allowed under the tax cap and given it to our schools. Under the new system, the school board will no longer have access to that money, which leads me to my second reason. (2) Manchester voters created a tax cap for a reason and this appears to be an end-run around the tax cap. Any new taxing authority should be subject to a tax cap and a mechanism to raise money above that – a school tax cap override requiring a two-thirds majority of the school board. If the school board is given taxing authority without a tax cap; I predict that Manchester voters will put a school tax cap on the ballot very quickly.


Linda Garrish Thomas, Retired RN/Educator

Qualifications:

Long-time social justice activist with public education of our children a priority; mother and grandmother; self and son educated in Manchester School System; former NH Legislator; worked with parents, teachers, and activist organizations locally, statewide, regionally, and nationally

Why are you interested in sitting on the School Charter Commission? 

I believe that the decision-making process by elected members of the Board of School Committee and Board of Mayor and Alderman and the School Administration are complicated, chaotic, convoluted, and contentious. Ultimately, this puts our children’s public school education at risk and fosters a stressful work environment for our teachers. The school department is the only city service that has two elected boards involved in budget and decision making. So who should be held accountable in this process? The public should be broadly and diversely represented on this School Board Charter Commission as it listens to public, educator, and administration opinion; reviews the current school charter and recommends charter revisions to the voters. Ultimately the Commission’s work should result in a better decision making process and a more seamless and transparent quality education system for Manchester’s students. I think we can do better by our children and improve the decision-making process.


Glenn Turgeon, Teacher

Qualifications:

BA English/Education, MA Educational Leadership, 26 year Manchester Educator

Why are you interested in sitting on the School Charter Commission? 

As an educator, I know how important it is to have capable and qualified people in positions that affect schools. Manchester needs to adapt to the changes inherent in our culture and society and govern their school system accordingly.  I am the son of two retired Manchester teachers, a graduate of Manchester schools, the parent of two children who went to Manchester schools, and a teacher with 26 years of classroom experience in our city. I have seen education from every possible angle, and I want our students to have the schools they deserve, not what we can scrape together.


Leslie Want, Business manager and school/community volunteer

Qualifications:

Four years on School Board representing Ward 4, former teacher, Parent of two CHS grads and taxpayer for 28 years in Manchester.

Why are you interested in sitting on the School Charter Commission? 

I would like to see the school funding issues fixed.


About Carol Robidoux 6527 Articles
Longtime NH journalist and publisher of ManchesterInkLink.com. Loves R&B, German beer, and the Queen City!