The Manchester Board of School Committee was in session last night and it was a long one. The board, which hasn’t met for more than a month, voted to ratify a legal settlement with the Candia School Board, which, for reasons unknown, decided to stop making capital improvement payments, to which it is obligated by its tuition contract with the Manchester School District. In total, Candia will pay Manchester six hundred twenty two thousand dollars to settle the dispute, with a check for more than half of it due in the next two weeks.
The board also approved an articulation agreement with the New Hampshire Technical Institute giving students at the Manchester School of Technology college credit for taking the Criminal Justice classes it teaches.
Police Chief Nick Willard was on hand to discuss the continued need for a second police officer at Central High School. While things have quieted down since the second officer was assigned last year, Willard said keeping that officer on site was important to keep things quiet and enable a more pro-active posture on the campus, which is open, large and complex.
Central Principal John Vaccarezza petitioned the board to restore the assistant principal position it removed during its budget deliberations. Ward Three Committee Member Mary Georges moved to reconsider the position, but that move was tabled when the administration said didn’t know how it would fund it.
In an unexpected move, Superintendent Debra Livingston brought forward two candidates to replace departing West High Principal Christopher Motika. They were Parkside Principal Forrest Ransdell and Central Assistant Principal Richard Dichard. After an hour of closed door interviews and discussion, the board ratified Livingston’s nomination of Dichard, a former assistant principal at West, to be principal. Given the urgent rush to install him, I’m guessing he’ll be starting pretty soon.
News from our own backyard continues after this.
David Taylor of Durham has filed a Right to Know lawsuit against S A U 5 5, which includes the Hampstead and Timberlane Regional school districts, over its refusal to disclose any information regarding the massive pay raise and bonus it granted Superintendent Earl Metzler earlier this year. The S A U school board has refused to release the minutes of the meeting at which it granted Metzler the pay raise, even refusing to disclose which members voted for or against the increase, which included a three point seven five percent raise in his base pay and a four percent performance bonus. The board has invoked the clause in the law which exempts personnel matters from public disclosure.
Critics of the move, like me, have argued that while the deliberations over Metzler’s performance and whether or not he should receive a pay raise may rightly be had in non-public session, the vote to grant the raises must be done in public.
Taylor, in his filing, cites public Facebook posts from school board member Rob Collins of Danville claiming that the minutes were sealed not to protect Metzler’s reputation, as allowed by law, but to protect the board’s deliberations. Collins said he had permission to post his comments to discuss the matter on Facebook when questioned by some in which he was posting, but it didn’t say from whom he received that permission. Having watched him in action over the years, we wouldn’t be surprised if he granted it to himself.
School Board Member Donna Green from Sandown, who recently won a very big Right to Know case against Metzler in the N H Supreme Court, issued a statement advising she had called for a special meeting of the S A U board to discuss the pending litigation. In response, Board Chair Jason Cipriano, whose wife was recently hired to fill a teaching position in the Timberlane Regional School District, said the S A U had yet to receive the paperwork from the court, so he didn’t know what purpose a special meeting would serve. If the district receives the filing, he wrote she S A U will address it quote “in accordance with our existing policies and procedures,” end quote.
If that’s anything like what’s happened in recent legal cases involving Metzler, the board will never see it.
It seems the Most Reverend Peter A. Libasci, Bishop of Manchester, has had a change of heart, Sacred Heart Parish that is. Last week, we reported that His Excellency had decided to shutter the West Side parish. This past weekend, it was announced that Libasci had changed his mind. Not only will Sacred Heart remain open, it will do so, somehow, without remaining under the supervision of Ste. Marie Parish, with which it was twinned well more than a decade ago. Fr. Moe LaRochelle, who is currently pastor to both parishes, will remain pastor of Sacred Heart until sometime in October, after which he will remain pastor of Ste. Marie.
In the Rio Olympics, Team U S A continues to dominate, winning nineteen medals thus far: Five gold, seven silver and seven bronze. Next is China with thirteen medals, including five gold, three silver and five bronze medals. Australia is next with four gold and three bronze medals. Who knew Italy was a summer Olympics powerhouse? Team Pasta, Pizza & Parmesan has pulled in three gold, four silver and two bronze medals.
That’s news from our own backyard! Girard at Large hour ___ is next!