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Category: Girard for School Board

An Alternate Feeder Pattern for Manchester’s Schools

On Monday, April 10th, the Board of School Committee will entertain redistricting recommendations made by Superintendent Dr. Bolgen Vargas and Leslie Want, the Committee Member from Ward 4 and Chair of Special Committee on Redistricting.  It is immediately below this introduction.   It is important to understand what this plan is designed to do.  According to a recent press release issued by the district,   The proposal includes a revised feeder pattern among Manchester’s schools, determining which middle and high schools a student will attend based on their elementary school.  While the current feeder pattern splits groups of students from...

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An Open Letter regarding the Search for a New Superintendent in Manchester

It would seem that my radio commentary responding to the insults and demands of Ward 12 School Committee Member Connie Van Houten has struck a nerve.  It was meant to.  Make no mistake, despite their claims, it’s not the deliberately attention getting manner in which the opinions were expressed that she and others object to.  It is the opinions themselves to which they object; that and the information that was made public. Predictably, Van Houten and other of my usual critics have shared their slack-jawed contempt for the manner in which the opinions were expressed.  The social media gnashing of teeth has truly been something to see.  Also predictable is the way other members of the board, both past and present, have seen fit to use what I’ve said as evidence of alleged hypocrisy. Wrote Kathy Staub, whom I defeated in November, Transparency is for other people. Ward 10 Committee Member John Avard, who incorrectly stated that the public was not to know the terms of a negotiated contract with the Manchester Education Association until after the Board of School Committee voted on it, posted: Says the man who was livid that union negotiation information was only shared at the board level until the ratification process was complete. Now secrecy is ok, even though it hasn’t been sanctioned by the board. Yes.  It IS true.  I’ve been a staunch advocate and...

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Girard releases Manchester high school class sizes

As part of the discussion over redistricting, at-Large Board of School Committee Member Rich Girard opened a discussion on high school class sizes.  It came in response to administration claims that despite having 1,500 fewer students than it had in the past, West High School didn’t have the space needed to absorb about 400 seventh and eighth grade students from the Middle School At Parkside. That discussion was raised because Girard revived a 2007 proposal to use available space at West to host the seventh and eighth grade classes currently at Parkside, and convert Parkside to an upper elementary school housing grades four through six to both eliminate overcrowding in the West Side’s three elementary schools and consolidate the district’s pre-kindergarten program, which is currently housed at multiple schools around the district.  The plan would free up enough classrooms across the city to enable a needed redistricting of all eleven elementary schools on the city’s East Side. At a special meeting held on February 29, 2016, administrators claimed that twenty two classrooms would be required to house the seventh and eighth grades at West and that if you filled all existing classes to thirty students, there wouldn’t be enough room to house the 400 plus students from Parkside.  Girard countered by reading a class size report he’d obtained from the district as a journalist in October, before being elected to the board.  Several classes...

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Girard offers Manchester school redistricting proposal

Below, I publish my letter to the Manchester Board of School Committee regarding redistricting.  Thanks to Mayor Ted Gatsas, it will appear on the agenda for the special meeting on February 29, called to discuss redistricting.  We’ve included a poll and welcome comments to get your feedback. Richard H. Girard Committeeman at-Large February 22, 2016 Manchester Board of School Committee c/o Maura Leahy, Clerk 195 McGregor Street Suite 201 Manchester, NH 03102 Re:  Redistricting Members of the Honorable Board: Since 2007, there has been a plan that would enable the redistricting of the city’s schools without cost.  More importantly, the plan not only enables better utilization of available space, it does so not just in accordance with stated academic objectives of the district, but also in such a way as to provide additional opportunities while addressing other issues. While the complete 2007 study is attached, it recommends the following: Parker Varney, Gossler Park and Northwest would become pre-K through 3 schools to house the district’s pre-K program. Parkside would become an “upper elementary school,” containing grades 4 through 6. West High would become home to grades 7 and 8. If this realignment is done, each school would have the following grades and census for the 2016-2017 school year, based on the February 1, 2016 enrollment report: Gossler Park: 255 (currently 449) Northwest: 369  (currently 706) Parker Varney: 232 (currently 634,...

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Girard posts proposed Curriculum Management Plan in search of comment

MANCHESTER, NH February 12, 2016–At-Large School Committeeman Rich Girard has posted a proposed Curriculum Management Plan to his Web site for public comment and feedback.  The document was recommended for approval in December by the Board of School Committee’s Curriculum and Instruction Committee.  However, on January 11, 2016, the board, which included several new members elected in November and a significant change in the membership of the Curriculum and Instruction Committee, referred it back to committee after several questions and concerns were raised. It was on the agenda for the committee’s January 26, 2016 meeting.  At that time, the committee’s new chair, Debra Langton, raised questions about the proposed review and revision schedule.  Following that, committee member John Avard expressed concern about a few items relative to the role of the school board, teachers and parents in the process.  Girard, panned the entire document, criticizing it for failing, among other things, to involve parents, businesses, teachers and the community at large in the process of reviewing current and potential curricula. The meeting can be viewed here.  Note the discussion on the Curriculum Management Plan begins at 1:40:00 and lasts about 24 minutes. At the meeting on the 26th, the committee directed district staff to post the proposed plan conspicuously on its Web site and alert the media and the public to its posting through the district’s communications coordinator.  The committee...

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How Will Rich’s Win Effect the Show?

(Hour 2a) Rich continued this morning’s phone frenzy by asking his listeners about how they think his win in the School Board race will affect the show.  Joe called in and wondered if the recount will have any affect on the election results.  Debra called in after Joe and answered his question about how the win should affect his show.  Tune in to hear what our listeners are...

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Union Leader endorses Girard for school board at-Large

Girard for school board: Transparency is the key EDITORIAL Transparency isn’t a problem for Rich Girard. You certainly never have any problem knowing where he stands. Manchester could use that kind of candor on the school board. Girard knows the city well. He worked for Mayor Ray Wieczorek, served as an alderman, and hosts a daily radio show that devotes considerable time to Manchester issues. Girard is making transparency the centerpiece of his campaign for the Manchester School Committee. He wants to pull back the curtain on Manchester schools, giving parents more notice on standardized tests, intrusive nonacademic surveys, contract details, and even which elected officials are taking taxpayer-funded benefits. The current board treats parents as an inconvenience. Girard would treat them as partners, invested in finding the best education possible for their children. He knows that better information will lead to better decisions, and better schools. Rich Girard has been a voice for open city government for years. Manchester voters now have a chance to make him their voice on the school...

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Girard refuses to sign “early education” pledge from Washington, DC PAC

In response to a solicitation from a Washington, DC based political action committee seeking “early childhood education” pledges from candidates running for local office, Manchester school board at-Large candidate Rich Girard released his answer. Richard H. Girard 283 Orange Street Manchester, NH  03104 October 11, 2015 Hon. Christopher Stewart, co-Chair Ms. Meryl Levin, co-Chair Don’t Wait.  Educate 36 Salmon Street, 3rd Foor Manchester, NH  03104 Dear Chris and Meryl: Thank you for presenting your Statement of Principles and requesting my support.  As the father of five, I am obviously interested in how best to educate children and know from my own experience that each child is unique in their abilities and in how they learn. While I would like to sign your Statement of Principles, I find myself with more questions than answers, assertions without reference, a school district that has struggled for years with its existing pre-school program, the questionable results of the Head Start program nationwide and the opinions and analyses of many experts that don’t agree with the solutions proposed by your organization to the issues raised. Inasmuch as I am a lifelong resident of Manchester and have been intimately involved in its politics and government for a quarter of a century, I am well aware of its current demographics and how they came about.  I recognize this provides the city with a set of challenges...

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Inside Education: Sid Interviews Manchester school board candidate Rich Girard

Rich Girard, host of the Girard-At-Large radio show shared his thinking about why he has put himself forward as a candidate for one of the two positions of at-Large Manchester school board member.  During the interview Rich expressed his thinking about parent and community involvement in the schools, teacher accountability and responsibility, and the necessity for school board members to ask the right questions and expect the right answers.  All to frequently it seems that there has been an absence of honest, intellectual skepticism on the part of board members resulting in policies that have not been professionally vetted and thought out.  Far too much blind acceptance has been practiced by the board and Rich would do his best to change such behavior. It should be noted that two of the other candidates for this board position have refused to appear on the show with Sid (incumbents Tessier & Staub).  The third candidate (Lachance) will receive an invitation shortly. Part 1 Part 2 Part...

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This is the heroin presentation given to Manchester high school students

Girard at Large has obtained a copy of the presentation given by members of the Manchester Fire Department to the city’s high school students.  In transmitting the material, Fire Chief James Burkush said the presentation was approved by School Superintendent Debra Livingston. The presentation has come under attack by parents upset about the district’s failure to provide advance notice of the presentation so they could decide to opt their children out of the presentation.  Some believe the presentation is wrongheaded, asserting there are better ways to warn students of the dangers of heroin use than attempting to scare them with graphic images of heroin users. Show host Rich Girard shared the burgeoning controversy in an on air monologue and called on the district to involve parents in the effort to educate children about the dangers of this epidemic.  He went so far as to suggest the presentation be given to the public at large and said that parents should be invited into the schools alongside their children to witness the presentations. In an interview yesterday on the Girard at Large Radion Show, Manchester Public Health Officer Tim Soucy defended the presentation, drafts of which he reviewed, saying it was necessary to impress upon students that even using heroin once could be fatal and would be life altering if not fatal.  He also raised questions over the proposal made by Governor Margaret...

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