Well, in case you hadn’t heard, it’s snowing outside. We’re not going to bother to do the Bad Weather Bureau this morning because everybody’s all freaked out and everything’s closed. Even City Hall in Manchester is shut down, and that’s pretty rare. Only public works and emergency service departments are operating today, except trash isn’t being picked up. All of tonight’s scheduled meetings have been canceled as the Attack of Snowzilla continues, though it started a whole lot later and seems a whole lot less furious than forecasted. It should go without saying that every community in our listening area has declared a Snow Emergency and banned parked cars from all city and town streets until Wednesday at the earliest. You can find links to all relevant agencies for your community on the Our Backyard page at Girard at Large dot com, ‘cuz we’re just cool that way.
Oh, and we have evidence that the Manchester School District’s Communications Coordinator Andrea Alley isn’t completely AWOL, she sent a press release yesterday saying that Superintendent Debra Livingston had canceled school for today and tomorrow. Charter and parochial schools in the city will also be closed as the district’s decision terminates their bus transportation.
Governess Margarett Wood Hassan has also closed state government and advised that all but essential state employees stay home and off the roads. As a result, House Speaker Shawn Jasper and Senate President Chuck Morse issued a statement saying the State House and Legislative Office Building will remain closed today and that they will monitor the situation throughout the day with regard to any potential postponements or cancellations for Wednesday should the storm continue. Today’s House Schedule has tentatively been moved to Wednesday. Nice to see someone’s going to wait and see what the storm actually does before canceling things days in advance.
Actual News from our own back yard will be brought to your attention right after this.
Fireworks erupted at last night’s meeting of the Manchester Board of School Committee over whether or not the board should create and adopt an opt out form for parents to excuse their children from the Smarter Balanced Assessment. Ward Nine Committeeman Arthur Beaudry, citing the failure of the Curriculum and Instruction Committee to develop the form as directed by the board, moved to have the board adopt one that he pulled off the Internet. The ensuing discussion was, as they say, enlightening.
Ward One School Committeewoman Sarah Ambrogi asserted the board had only taken one vote not to proceed with Smarter Balanced and that was in August, when she was on vacation. Part of the motion, she said, was to have the administration seek a waiver. She said she believed that many members of the board voted against using the test because they expected to get the waiver and suggested the board vote on the matter again now that they know no waiver is coming.
Superintendent Debra Livingston said she’s been told by state Department of Education officials that the district may not disseminate an opt out form because children are required to take the test by law. She also said the state is looking at creative ways to use something other than Smarter Balanced and is working on a new waiver application.
Ward Six Committeewoman Robyn Dunphy came armed with meeting minutes of her own saying that the board agreed to have the opt out form as a backup plan should things change.
A clearly exasperated Mayor Ted Gatsas again recounted conversations he’d had with Commissioner Virginia Barry and statements she made publicly about waivers saying she’s had an open invitation to address the board for eight months and she has yet to appear. He challenged Barry to either confirm or refute his claims on granting the waiver and said it just might be time for the district to retain legal counsel and file suit over being forced to take this test.
Beaudry’s motion was killed in favor of letting the committee do its work after Ward Eight Committeewoman Erika Connors, the committee chair, action was withheld because clarification on what the board wanted was needed and said she wanted to have legal counsel present to ensure that whatever they did was legal.
Okay, so now you know the fix is in to kill the form and Ambrogi set the stage to overturn the vote and they’ve delayed action as a board until March, because the committee won’t meet again until late February, when they’ll have to cave in because the testing period opens in March.
Oh, did I mention that the Manchester Education Association went on record as opposed to the board’s stand against using Smarter Balanced? Yeah, they’re biting on the loss of funds threat? We’ll have more on all of this, of course, during the show.
Timberlane Superintendent Earl Metzler’s back to his threatening ways. Yesterday, Leon Artus, the Atkinson resident who sent emails to Metzler in December offering to help fix problems they were having with Christmas lights and who challenged the budget at a January fifteenth public hearing and who raised questions and concerns about non-public meetings held by the Timberlane Regional School Board regarding him both at a meeting of the school board and on this radio show received a letter from Attorney Jeanne Kincaid saying and I quote “Please be advised that this firm represents SAU #55. Superintendent Earl Metzler has requested that I ask you to kindly refrain from communicating with him as he views your communications as serving no other purpose than to harass him. Thank you.” End quote.
This would be the same Earl Metzler who filed a complaint with the Plaistow Police over Artus’ emails inquiring about the Christmas lights. Plaistow’s cops dropped the investigation within two hours of talking to Artus. This would also be the same Earl Metzler who filed a bogus complaint against School Board Member Donna Green for allegedly harassing behavior toward district office employees. Green was cleared of the charges when a video Metzler withheld from the public was finally released showing no such harassment. Now, Metzler’s using a taxpayer funded lawyer to threaten another citizen who has questioned and challenged him. Must be good to be the king. Anybody have a clue why the Timberlane School Board is AWOL on these things? Here’s a time line of Artus’ “harassing behavior” from Green’s blog.
That’s news from our Snowzilla’s Snow-Mageddoned backyard, Girard at Large hour ___ is next!