MANCHESTER, N.H. – On Monday night, the Manchester Board of School Committee (BOSC) Teaching and Learning Committee unanimously recommended a proposed Head Start programming collaborative between Manchester West High School and Southern New Hampshire Services’ Child Development Program.
Designed to help infants, toddlers and pre-school children from low-income families develop life-long skills, the Head Start program currently helps 264 children in the city of Manchester, with the proposed collaborative bringing 36 of those children into two rooms at West.
Those rooms, near the Conant Street side of the building and compartmentalized from high school aged children according to West Principal Richard Dichard, are currently unused and not currently available to be used as classrooms for high school-aged children if the need arose.
Southern New Hampshire Services Executive Director Donna Lee Lozeau said one of the primary reasons for the collaboration is the lack of comparable opportunities for underprivileged children on the West Side. Additionally, the Head Start program is able to utilize spaces that other educational programs may find sub-optimal according to Lozeau, such as trailer formerly used as classrooms outside Northwest Elementary School which are now being used for Head Start purposes.
Additionally, Lozeau told the board that the program would come at no cost to the school district, and would bear no cost if the program ever left the district.
Dichard added that the program will provide opportunities for West students interested in learning more about careers in early childhood education and the collaboration can be created with minimal logistical effort given the location of the building where it will be placed.
“I think this is a no-brainer for us,” said Dichard of the collaboration.
BOSC members almost uniformly praised the idea, with Ward 3 BOSC Member and Committee Chair Karen Soule’s primary concern was that she was not made aware of the proposal sooner during the last three years of planning for the collaboration’s implementation.
Ward 1 BOSC Member Julie Turner expressed concern about traffic patterns when picking up children from Head Start at the end of the school day, but strongly supported the concept of the program, sharing her experience with a similar program through a graduate school in western Pennsylvania.
“Is it perfect? I’m not sure that it’s perfect, but the pros outweigh the cons I can see at this point,” she said.