BPD mystery womanIt’s back to the drawing board on a number of items brought forward by Manchester School Superintendent Debra Livingston at last night’s meeting of the Board of School Committee. The much anticipated redistricting plan proved to be as close to a non-starter as one can get without actually being told it’s a non starter. Livingston’s plan didn’t redraw any lines, citing the need to develop a central facility to serve the district’s nearly four hundred developmentally delayed pre-schoolers. Currently, the program is housed at Parker Varney, Smyth Road and Jewett Street schools. Without freeing up the space in those three facilities, redrawing elementary school boundary lines allegedly can’t be done. Livingston estimated the price tag to pin a twenty classroom addition on to an existing, but undisclosed, school to be five million dollars.
In the interim, Livingston suggested the district simply return about three hundred of the four hundred kids who are attending a school outside their assigned school back to their neighborhood school. She said it would basically be a wash in terms of class sizes and teacher assignment, but could free up a couple of teachers to help lower class sizes. That had Ward Ten Committeeman John Avard wondering why bother? He said the kids who are attending schools outside of their assigned schools are there for a reason and that he wanted to see greater school choice, not less, saying parents from anywhere in the city should be able to pick whatever school they want to send their kids to.
Ward Six Committeewoman Robyn Dunphy noted that the reason a lot of students are in other schools is because the No Child Left Behind Act enabled parents to pick a school for their kids if their assigned school wasn’t meeting standards. Livingston admitted that the choice provisions of No Child Left Behind were suspended under the current waiver the state received from the feds and could come back if a new waiver isn’t in place before it expires.
Ward Twelve Committeewoman Constance Van Houten opposed the plan saying that it provided no relief for schools like Northwest Elementary that would continue to filled to the brim with more kids on the way due to the construction of nearly one hundred fifty more apartment units on Hackett Hill. All this had Mayor Ted Gatsas revisiting a proposal he floated here on Girard at Large to build a new school in the neighborhood currently served by the Beech Street and Henry Wilson elementary schools and put the district’s pre-school program and administrative offices at Beech Street and use Wilson for the district’s beleaguered and basically homeless Adult Education Program.
The administration’s plan to relocate that program (Adult Ed) from the Manchester School of Technology to West High School ran smack into a brick wall as board members learned that it would involve cordoning off a major section of the school around the auditorium to house the program that brings unscreened adults into the school all day long and would require money from the one point eight million dollar bond to facilitate the growth of M S T’s four year high school to make the needed changes to West.
Oh, there was a really testy exchange over leveling in the middle schools as Ward Two Committeewoman Debra Langton’s motion to leave them leveled was tabled.
There was a budget hearing last night too. Mike Porter, a rumored candidate for school board in Ward 8, complained that the budget didn’t include money for pay raises and Jim O’Connell of Citizens for Manchester Schools basically told the board not to be pleased with the superintendent’s budget, despite the four million dollar increase in spending, as it would only meet state standards and more resources were, of course, required.
News from our own backyard continues after this.
Yesterday afternoon, at about ten minutes to four, the Bedford Police Department responded to route one oh one east of the intersection with route one fourteen in response to a caller who reported a female walking in the median of the highway. When an officer attempted to talk to her, she abruptly turned and ran away from the officer without speaking to the officer. Fearing the female would run into traffic and create a substantial risk to her safety and others, the officer attempted to detain the female who immediately resisted the officer, thrusting a ten inch butcher knife at his face during a brief struggle. Neither was injured as the woman was taken into custody. She refused to cooperate and her identity is currently unknown. The Bedford P D is asking anyone with any information regarding her identity to call the Bedford Police Department at 4 7 2 5 1 1 3. We have asked the department for a picture and description of the woman figuring that would help us help them. We’ll post them when we get them. UPDATE: At 12:32 PM, BPD released this statement and photo.
Bedford cops, by the way, have also issued an alert urging residents to Lock It or Lose It. Apparently, there’s been a rash of thefts from unlocked vehicles in driveways and open garages. If you see something, say something say the cops who are encouraging residents to contact them with any suspicious activity.
Voters go to the polls in Merrimack today. On the ballot is a proposed town budget of nearly thirty one and a half million dollars, which would increase taxes by eight cents per thousand if approved, raising the tax rate to five dollars and fifty four cents…hey, that’s about half Derry’s rate! Anyway, the big draw is likely the battles for Town Council where five candidates are vying for one of three three year terms and three candidates, including former State Rep. Lenette Petersen are vying for a one year term. Incumbents Nancy Harrington, Lon Woods and Tom Koenig are running for reelection for another three years and are being challenged by former Councilor Mike Malzone and former school board member Jody Vaillancourt. Incumbent Tom Mahon’s reelection for a one year term is being challenged by Petersen and Alex Porada.
Merrimack will also decide school issues as they consider a more than seventy million four hundred thousand dollar school budget, which would push the school tax rate up by almost six percent. Various union contracts for both the town and the school district are on the ballot as well, with employees paying an increased share of their health insurance if approved. Incumbents Andy Schneider and Davis Powell are unopposed in their bids for reelection to the school board. We’ve linked to the town’s voter guide and the page on the school district’s Web site that seems to have their voter information for your convenience.
That’s news from our own backyard, Girard at Large hour ___ is next.