12-17-2013 News

The Manchester School District officially begins the process of developing new academic standards today as the sixty teachers who’ve volunteered to work on the project will meet with Dr. Althea Sheaff to start quote “unpacking standards” end quote.  Sheaff retired from the Nashua School District as an assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction.  A former boss of  current Manchester Assistant Superintendent David Ryan, who now oversees curriculum and instruction, she is donating her services to the city.  Her appointment, coupled with materials released by the district, are causing concern with various educational watchdog groups who came together to oppose the adoption of the Common Core national standards.  Critics are faulting the district for not choosing a broader range of academic standards to review, noting they are heavily weighted toward those already aligned with Common Core.  They also point to an item on tonight’s agenda of the Curriculum and Instruction Committee they say is proof that the district is moving toward so called outcome based education rather than toward rigorous academic standards because, among other things, of its focus on alignment with the Twenty First Century Project.  In a related story, Girard at Large was pleased to post the scan it had made of New Hampshire Standards in Education from ninteen thirty and forward it along to the district given how a local mom injected it into the debate.  Both Mayor Ted Gatsas and former Superintendent Tom Brennan in interviews on Girard at Large said they should be part of the process of Manchester developing its own academic standards.

Aldermen on the Committee on Accounts, Enrollment and Revenue Administration learned that the city is still facing a million dollar shortfall in its health insurance line item and Finance Officer Bill Sanders seemed a bit glum at the prospects of digging out of it before the end of the fiscal year.  He said city officials may have been too aggressive budgeting the health insurance number based on plan changes, but there was no way to know.  Didn’t appear to be any good news on the projected quarter of a million dollar plus deficit projected by Welfare Commissioner Paul Martineau, either.  Assistant City Solicitor Tom Arnold also told the committee that a review of all the available insurance information shows that the Manchester Dog Park Association has maintained proper coverage on the park without any lapse.  The committee asked Arnold to confirm the assertions made by Ward 10 Alderman Phil Greazzo, a founding member of the association, at its last meeting.  Girard at Large has learned there is an outside chance that the solicitor’s office may issue its report on whether or not Alderman at-Large Joe Kelly Levasseur improperly used his position as an alderman to obtain private information from the association’s insurance agent, which he then disseminated, tonight.  Speaking of the Solicitor’s Office, they have refused to release the arbitrator’s findings in the Officer Stephen Coco arbitration case claiming it’s an internal personnel matter not subject to the state’s Right to Know Law.

News from our own backyard continues after this.

A Weare woman is organizing a winter hat and glove drive for the town’s school kids.  Tami Aikens says kids at all three of the town’s schools, Center Woods Elementary School, Weare Middle School and John Stark Regional High are in need.  Aikens was inspired to launch the drive after giving her gloves to a little girl who needed them.  She’s looking for donors, of course, and support from businesses.  She’s also working to set up drop boxes at the schools, but says that donations can be dropped off with Nurse Pat at the elementary school until they’re in place.  Anyone interested in helping her make sure kids have warm clothes to go outside with is asked to email her at T a m z t e r z @ comcast dot net.

Will they or won’t they, that’s the question dogging the town of Hooksett and school officials in Manchester as the Hooksett School Board prepares to meet tonight to vote on a ten year tuition contract with Pinkerton Academy in DERRY.  Manchester Mayor Ted Gatsas said he believes ratifying the proposed agreement would be a further violation of the town’s legal settlement with the school district and said he’d be surprised if a letter to that affect from Manchester’s lawyers wasn’t in their hands before meeting time.  Gatsas has questioned how Hooksett can, in good faith as required by the settlement, negotiate an extension with the city if it commits to a tuition contract elsewhere.  He called their creation of Memorandums of Understanding with other districts a cute way around having the voters approved the pacts in March.  School Board Member John Lyscars welcomed the mayor’s legal interventions in a statement issued yesterday.  He continues to urge all who wish to send their children to Manchester schools at a future time, and any parent who doesn’t want to be forced to go to Pinkerton in Derry, to speak during the board’s public participation session which begins tonight at six thirty in the Cawley Middle School’s media center.

That’s news from our own backyard, Girard at Large hour ___ starts in just 30 seconds.