03-25-2014 News

Hey, everybody, did you know we missed Obamacare‘s fourth birthday?  Yeah, it was last Friday, the twenty first, and thanks to a clever video we received from Citizens for a Strong N H, we were reminded.  In the video, representatives from the group tried to deliver birthday cakes to both Senator Jeanne Shaheen Health Care Queen and Congresswoman Carol Shea Porter.  The clueless hippie types in Shaheen’s office refused delivery of the cake saying that it might exceed federal gift limits and that they had no idea what the senator’s public events schedule was that day.  ShaheenAttempts to deliver the cake to Shea-Porter at a public event in Manchester at the Community College, which is public property, were met with a rather hostile security type that threatened to have the cake deliverer arrested for trespassing if he didn’t leave as directed, even after acknowledging they were at a public event on public property.  We’ve linked to the amusing video for your convenience from this newscast at Girard at Large dot com.  Oh, and according to a press release sent by the New Hampshire State Republican Party, Manchester G O P Chair Tammy Simmons did, apparently, successfully delivere a birthday cake to Shaheen’s Manchester office, ensuring the senator could celebrate having cast the deciding vote that’s terminated twenty two thousand Granite Staters’ health insurance policies and driven premiums through the roof.  Good to know her staff didn’t totally frustrate efforts to help her celebrate.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Andrew Hemingway released what he called his Privacy First initiative, a comprehensive plan to protect the privacy of New Hampshireites in a teleconference yesterday.  Hemingway was joined by State Representative Neal andrew hemingwayKurk, Republican of Weare, the legislature’s acknowledged expert on matters of privacy and one of its foremost champions.  In response to questions posed by Girard at Large, Hemingway said if passed, his proposed laws would safeguard information sought by federal initiatives such as Obamacare and Common CoreThe sweeping proposals, which we’ve published in their entirety at Girard at Large dot com, would also block attempts by state agencies and companies to obtain and or use data obtained from emails, metadata, cell phones and more without proper warrants.  Hemingway said safeguarding privacy is one of the most present issues on peoples’ minds and was an overriding concern with those he’s spoken with.  He also said his campaign was preparing major position statements on several more traditional issues.  Hemingway will be our guest this Monday morning, you’ll want to be sure to tune in for that.

Speaking of Common Core, Indiana Governor Mike Pence signed legislation banning the national standards from Indiana schools.  He said the Hoosier State would develop its own standards, which he said would, in no uncertain terms, be superior to those they just tossed.

News from our own backyard continues after this.

Last  night’s meeting of the Manchester Board of School Committee generated more heat than light as Superintendent Debra Livingston brought forward a redistricting plan that was long on concept but short on detail and a budget plan that realigned district resources to priorities identified in the district’s curriculum audit and by a regional high school accreditation authority and Ward Nine Committeeman Arthur Beaudry raised the specter of shuttering West High School to save one point nine million dollars.  Beaudry’s suggestion came on the heals of an update given by former Mayor and West High Principal Bob Baines on the STEAM Ahead NH initiative designed to transform West into a John Avardmagnet school.  Pardon the pun, but by all indications the effort has picked up steam as businesses have stepped forward and educators have advanced the plan to the point where the first class of seventy five kids is ready to be recruited.  During the discussion, Ward Ten Committeeman John Avard agreed with Beaudry that rethinking how the district uses facilities wasn’t a bad idea, suggesting that the board consider reconfiguring Memorial to be a the new Manchester School of Technology and sending the bulk of the kids who now go to Memorial over the river to West with the rest going to Central.   While Beaudry made what seemed to be a defensible argument if his enrollment, capacity and budget numbers are correct, Ward Eleven Committeewoman Katie Desrochers made a motion to keep West High open, which was quickly seconded by Avard and adopted by the board with eleven in favor, none opposed and three abstentions recorded by Beaudry, Ward Two’s Deb Langton and Ward Three’s Christopher Stewart.  At-Large member Kathy Staub was absent.

Livingston’s proposed one hundred sixty million dollar general fund budget, remember there’s another twenty five million the district spends in funds not appropriated, was sent to the public hearing Thursday night after lengthy discussion and an aborted attempt to approve the proposal and forward it to the Board of Mayor and Aldermen.  By charter, the school board must submit a budget that conforms to the tax cap and the city only appropriates a total amount, not the line items as with other departments.  So, those in favor of sending it to the aldermeDr. Debra Livingstonn didn’t see why they wouldn’t given the constraints of the charter.  The majority of the budget discussion centered on reduction of class sizes and proposals by Livingston to add an assistant principal at each of the city’s three high schools and add two and a half assistant principals to the elementary schools.  Frankly, it was a really good discussion all around and I recommend you visit our Live Forum Blog, to which we’ve linked from this newscast, which captured the discussion in real time.

As to the redistricting, Livingston discussed the concept of designing a feeder school system that channeled kids predictably from elementary school, to middle school and then to high school, as retired Superintendent Tom Brennan did, but she did not release any specifics of which schools would go where or how elementary boundary lines would be redrawn.  Like Brennan, she said the key issue was how they dealt with the pre-K kids.  On that one, she took a page or two from Ward 8 Committeewoman Erika Connors who suggested housing the pre-k program and its almost four hundred kids at Jewett Street School.  However, instead of packing up Southside‘s kids and shipping them to McLaughlin as Connors originally proposed, Livingston suggested the board ship Jewett’s K through Five students to Southside and form what she called a K through Eight Innovation School.  No changes will be made under any circumstance to current district boundary lines before the 0h fifteen oh sixteen school year.

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