02-11-2014 News

Valentine’s Day is 3 days away.  Have you pre-ordered your gifts from Jacques?  Get it done so V-Day can simply be fun!

Well, it was an interesting meeting of the Manchester Board of School Committee last night as major news was made.  With respect to The Manchester Academic Standards, Assistant Superintendent David Ryan announced that a first, very rough draft of the English Language Arts Standards had been completed.  Though he held up a three ringed binder he said contained the draft, it wasn’t released to the public.  Instead, he said it was headed for revisions and that the district would take Common Core critic Dr. Sandra Stotsky, the educator largely credited with developing the standards that turned Massachusetts into a public education powerhouse, up on her offer to review and comment on any standards the district was considering.  Ryan made that announcement right after he said the district had received input from Dr. James Milgram on the district wide trimester math tests at the elementary school level and would not only be modifying the tests based on his input, but would be sending the modifications his way for review before using them again.

As expected, and prohibition of public comment at committee and the objections of the public during last night’s meeting not withstanding, the board did approve the so called SMART goals and policy changes endorsed by the Curriculum and Instruction Committee.  Ryan told the board that there was no connection between the policies, which come from the Common Core aligned Curriculum Audit, and The Manchester Academic Standards, so delaying their adoption until after the standards had been approved by the board was unnecessary.  They adopted the SMART goals despite a parent reading some of them aloud to underscore that they were not only vague, but also, in some cases, grammatically incorrect and confusing.  School Board Members Arthur Beaudry from Ward 9 and Debra Langton from Ward 2 were opposed to adoption of the goals and policies.

The issue of pubic comment at committee meetings was revisited with a motion by Beaudry and Langton to require all school board and committee meetings have public comment sessions.  Only Ward 10’s John Avard would join them.  At-Large Committeeman David Wihby said it was an unnecessary motion as the rules already provided for the sessions and that it was just a mix up that resulted from miscommunication with the board’s new clerk.  Ward 8’s Erika Connors, who was at the center of the storm for comments she made as Chair of the Curriculum and Instruction Committee, also said it was unnecessary now that she understood what the rules provided for.  She said she didn’t allow the public to speak at the meeting she chaired fearing that if she did she may have overstepped board rules against public comment, setting a precedent for the rest of the board.  Mayor Ted Gatsas said he thought it was pretty clear from the discussions there would be public comment.  At all meetings, asked Beaudry.  At all meetings said Gatsas.

That proposal to turn Parker Varney into a day care center parents could leave their kids at for twelve hours during school and presumably on non-school days was re-referred to the administration for further review and details.  Ward 6 Committeeman Robyn Dunphy, herself an elementary school teacher, led the charge saying it was the school district’s responsibility to educate kids, not house them.  Love that line.

Another marquee moment of the night came when Gatsas referenced the video clip we posted of the Hooksett School Board Deliberative Session.  He said was puzzled by the answer Hooksett residents got to the question about why they were paying two million more for tuition, so he clarified for them.  In his out loud mayor’s voice, Gatsas the city offered on multiple occasions to drop its law suit if Hooksett withdrew their Letter of Breach.  They wouldn’t do it, so the city continued with the lawsuit, the mayor said.  That is why their tuition is up two and a half million dollars.  He also hammered news reports that failed to make it clear that regardless of where Hooksett sends its kids to school, they’ll be paying Manchester almost eight hundred thousand dollars a year for capital improvements to Central and West and wondered why proponents of Pinkerton don’t factor that in when they’re talking about overall cost.  He urged the newspaper reporters to make those details clear in their stories so that Hooksett voters got the real picture of what was going on.

News from our own backyard continues after this.

Speaking of that Hooksett School Board deliberative session, Hooksett School Board Chair Trisha Korkosz went on a social media rampage against school board candidate Jason Hyde for proposing a three quarter of a million dollar cut to the proposed budget that hiked spending nearly ten percent.  She accused Vice-Chair David Pearl of being behind the proposal and said he and Board Member John Lyscars thought it was okay to cyber-bully, oh my head, and cyber-harass the superintendent, the school board, administrators and teachers.  In reply, Pearl called her post trash and demanded she retract it because he’d never cyber bullied anyone nor supported the claimed cuts.  Lyscars took umbrage at Korkosz’s panicky  post saying he’s the one who’s felt threatened and harassed by her, Superintendent Charles Littlefield and the rest of the board for their actions over the past year and, by the way, the post, like a recent op ed, was full of misstatements and lies.  Oh, Pearl walked out of last night’s non meeting meeting with the board’s lawyer on the hostile work place issue raised  by Chucky the Super.  He said he wanted Littlefield to leave the meeting for a brief period so the board could meet alone with its attorney to review issues he would not disclose.  The board refused, so Pearl walked out.  Wonder if he’ll return for tomorrow night’s meeting with taxpayer funded employees pitching the Pinkerton warrant article in an information session held for residents with Pinkerton staff.  Not sure, but I’m thinking that might be violating the state’s Electioneering laws.

That’s news from our own backyard, Girard at Large hour ___ is next.