She shall not descend from her throne to be with the little people she pretends have local control, at least not in public session. That’s the gist of a letter sent by Virginia Barry, New Hampshire’s Commissioner of Education, in response to the Manchester Board of School Committee’s request she appear before them to answer questions about Common Core, the Smarter Balanced Assessment and the No Child Left Behind waivers, among other things. Mayor Ted Gatsas, who has been very publicly asking, if not daring, Barry to visit with the board, released the letter at Monday night’s meeting of the Board of School Committee. He’d received them earlier that day.
In the letter, Barry thanked the board for the many options it offered for her to attend a meeting and wrote quote: “I am sure the Board has issues they would like clarified and I would be glad to meet individually or in smaller groups to address any questions they might have.” She went on to say she meets with superintendents to address areas of concern and often meets with school board members to provide information they might need to make decisions for their district. She actually wrote and I quote “A public meeting rarely accomplishes the kind of meaningful conversation necessary to support students and families in these complex times.” I am utterly speechless.
When asked for comment on the letter yesterday, Mayor Gatsas said quote “What can I say? I guess if members of the board want to meet with her individually, they’ll go up there.”
Barry also sent a letter in response to the board’s request to be reimbursed for the purchase of headphones required for the Smarter Balanced Assessment, which cost the district seven thousand dollars. She wrote quote “If the district did not already have the headphones available for instructional use, then the funds already available in the district can be used. Therefore, your request for reimbursement outside of your dedicated funds is denied.”
This, of course, totally sidestepped the reason for the request which was that because the Smarter Balanced Assessment, which was mandated by the State Board of Education, required the use of headphones the district didn’t already have, the Department of Education was obligated under Article 2 8 A of the state constitution to pay for the cost of the mandate. Ward Nine Committeeman Arthur Beaudry’s attempt to send another letter and consider filing suit against the state under 2 8 A failed with only Ward Two’s Debra Langton, Ward Seven’s Ross Terrio and Ward Ten’s John Avard supporting the move. Ward Five’s Ted Rokas was absent.
As soon as we can figure out why our computer can’t find the scanner it’s attached to, we’ll post the letters.
News from our own backyard continues after this.
Voters went to the polls in Merrimack yesterday and approved everything asked of them on the ballot, including a school budget that had a nearly six percent increase in taxes; an increase the school board blamed in large part on a reduction in state funding. In the contested races for Town Council, former School Board Chairman Jody Vaillancourt topped the ticket with 1, 2 2 6 votes. Incumbents reelected for a three year term were Tom Koenig and Nancy Harrington with 1, 1 0 0 and 1,0 6 8 votes respectively. Incumbent Lon Woods, who was appointed following the death of Council Chair David Yakuboff finished fourth with 9 2 7 votes and former Councilor Mike Malzone was last with 8 6 4.
In the race to fill the remainder of Yakuboff’s term, incumbent Councilor Tom Mahon, who ran for this seat instead of reelection to a three year term, won with 9 0 2 votes. Former State Rep. Lenette Petersen finished second with 7 8 6 votes and Alex Paroda finished with 2 3 6.
The Manchester Local Emergency Planning Committee in conjunction with the Manchester Fire Department is hosting a free half-day Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response (HAZWOPER) Awareness training session. This basic spill response training is part of an ongoing outreach effort to help local businesses improve their emergency planning practices and to support local emergency planning efforts.
This training has been designed to educate participants so that they:
· Can identify and understand what hazardous materials are;
· Can understand hazards associated with chemicals routinely used in commerce;
· Can determine when a release has occurred;
· Are prepared to initiate their facility’s emergency plan; and
· Can recognize when additional or outside resources are needed.
The training is designed to help participants understand the risks and hazards associated with the chemical products they use. Participating facilities can use the knowledge and information provided to review and improve their chemical management and spill response plans. The goal is to promote site and public safety. Local businesses are invited to send up to 3 participants to the training.
The training will be held at the Manchester Health Department on the morning of April twenty first and will start at 8:30. The Fire Department will provide training certificates for all participants requesting them. We’ve posted the link to their registration site with this newscast at Girard at Large dot com.
That’s news from our own backyard, Girard at Large hour ___ is next