Manchester’s School Board was in session last night and, well, it was fun for the whole family; the Adams or Muster families that is. (Are we still close enough to Halloween to make that joke?) The Committee on Coordination and Administration tackled the thorny issue of whether or not all middle and high school students should be required to wear identification while in school. Clearly, the administration wasn’t in favor of the move, fearing enforcement difficulties, cost and what it would do to the climate of the schools. Unimpressed with their concerns, Ward Six Committeewoman Robyn Dunphy noted that many professional office environments require employees to don IDs while on the premises. As to cost, she asked how much money was already in the budget for student IDs to know what the over and above cost might be. Nobody in the administration actually had the answer. The committee also had this bizarre conversation with administrators over a policy that disallowed the parents of diabetic children from giving their kids insulin shots while on field trips. They tabled that so the administration could work on it just a little more. Oh My HEAD
During the main event, the real time blog of which we’ve linked to from this newscast, teachers once again lobbied the board for a quote un quote “fair contract.” That would come back to haunt them during a discussion on whether the board should appoint a new negotiations subcommittee to try again. During that discussion, Mayor Ted Gatsas repeatedly told the board that the Executive Committee of the Manchester Education Association had unanimously voted for the contract most recently killed by the union. That prompted Dunphy to question why members of that board would publicly criticize the school board over the contract. Ward Eleven Committeewoman Katie Desrochers said she found it disingenuous for members of the executive committee to come and berate the board for an unfair contract after they voted for it, saying quote “Perhaps they’re not representing their membership appropriately.” A negotiations committee was established.
In other items of note, the board approved a contract with Granite State Driving School to provide Drivers Ed. The tuition for the first two years of the five year contract will be five hundred twenty five bucks, after which it will rise to five hundred thirty. A twenty dollar surcharge will be added if gas exceed four bucks per gallon.
After a protracted discussion, the board voted to direct Superintendent Debra Livingston to hire a full time assistant principal for the Henry Wilson Elementary School. A motion to hire five teachers to help with middle school class sizes failed with sympathetic members voting against the move due to budgetary constraints. The board also ordered the administration to look into removing unused portable classrooms around the district, especially those that are boarded up.
There was an interesting and very telling argument over de-leveling the middle schools, with references made by Ward Two Committeewoman Debra Langton to the recent meeting of the Curriculum and Instruction Committee. Her motion to prohibit de-leveling was tabled, but not after a lot of rancor on the question. Ward One Committeewoman Sarah Ambrogi took exception to Langton’s comments about the committee looking at the best interest of the administrators who wanted to make things easier versus the best interests of the kids. Committeewoman at-Large Kathy Staub said the system had been fiddled around with long enough and that none of it had improved education. It was time to do things differently, she said in a rather impassioned and rational plea.
Finally, Ward Seven School Board member Ross Terrio failed in a bid to offer the Hooksett School Board a one year contract extension at cost plus ten percent. He said he knew the board’s last offer wouldn’t be accepted by the Hooksett School Board because he phone polled them. Gatsas, who got that answer after asking why the board would negotiate against itself, then asked why have a negotiations committee if individual members were going to take matters into their own hands. For the record, Manchester has not received a reply or counter offer to the one it made last month.
News from our own backyard continues after this.
The investigation into Timberlane Regional School Board Member Donna Green has been closed and no charges are forthcoming. Green made the announcement on her blog last night, shortly before eleven o’clock. What’s troubling about the announcement, however, is that she was not notified that the investigation had been concluded. Instead, she learned the file had been closed after obtaining information demanded by her lawyer via a Right to Know Request. It was only after she picked up the documents yesterday that she’d learned the investigation was closed back on October twenty second. Green was accused by Superintendent Earl Magalo Metzler of harassing a member of the staff. He filed a complaint with the Plaistow Police Department, which was subsequently investigated by Lt. William Baldwin, a former chairman of the Timberlane Regional School Board with close ties to Metzler and several members of the board. Both the district and Baldwin withheld a video of the alleged incident of menacing behavior taken by a security camera from Green and the public until Green hired a lawyer to make plain the violations of law committed by both the district and the police. Not only did the lawyer’s letter force the release of the video that vindicated Green, it caused the district to rescind its order prohibiting Green from entering school district offices without Metzler’s prior written permission.
Due to the holiday tomorrow, both the Bedford Police Department’s monthly Meet the Chief and Coffee with a Cop and Senior Talk meetings have been moved to Tuesday November 18th. Coffee with a Cop and Senior Talk will run from seven to nine and Meet the Chief will take place from four to seven that afternoon. Both will be held at the Bedford Safety Complex.
Santa will travel more than 4,000 miles from the North Pole to Jefferson, New Hampshire to officially kick-off Christmastime festivities with his elves, reindeer, rides, light shows, and more beginning Saturday, Nov. 22nd at Santa’s Village. Christmastime at Santa’s Village will be open weekends from Nov. 22 through Dec. 21. Santa’s Village is a Christmas-themed amusement park geared toward children 13 and under. Recently recognized as one of the Top 25 Amusement Parks in the USA in the TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice Awards, Santa’s Village is particularly magical at Christmastime when the park glimmers and glows with thousands of colorful lights and festive holiday decorations. Highlights include a special 20-foot colored ribbon tree and a more than 60-foot decorated tree with a spectacular light display. We’ve linked to their Web site so you can get all the admission details.
That’s news from our own backyard, Girard at Large hour ___ starts right now!