The Manchester Board of School Committee met last night and we learned some stuff, like over nineteen thousand pounds of Ice Melt were used at city schools this winter and snow banks at Memorial High were as high as the roof at various places around the building. That was at the Building and Sites Committee meeting, where Aramark, the city’s custodial services provider, was giving a quarterly update. Aramark also advised it was using new technology to ensure classrooms were sanitary.
At the main event, Superintendent Debra Livingston surprised the board under the Super Secret Agenda, also know as the Superintendent’s Communications, with a budget presentation. Assuming the Board of Mayor and Aldermen adopted the budget proposed by Mayor Ted Gatsas and let the school district keep one million dollars in projected surplus, for a total of some four hundred thousand dollars more than her original proposed tax cap budget, Livingston said she still needs to find seven hundred thousand dollars or would have to reduce the increases she originally proposed by an additional seven hundred thousand dollars to meet the assumed budget.
Her presentation raised some hackles. Ward Six Committeewoman Robyn Dunphy wanted to know why the presentation wasn’t on the agenda and included with their packets on Friday so they could review her presentation and be better able to ask questions. Ward Three Committeeman Christopher Stewart wanted to know why she was bringing anything forward given the Board of Mayor and Aldermen has yet to act on their request and give them a number. Ward Nine Committeeman Arthur Beaudry took the opportunity to try and spend some of the projected surplus on books he says Memorial has asked for and been denied. That motion was defeated, with Dunphy wanting to know why it was the administration still, despite all the requests, didn’t know what the cost to provide Memorial with the needed books was.
The other marquis moments of the night came as the board discussed the revised policy governing participation in athletics and extra curricular activities. The proposed policy met strong opposition from Dunphy and Ward Two’s Debra Langton who decried the two point zero grade point standard required to participate. They also objected to giving incoming freshmen a clean slate to play sports regardless of their eighth grade grades saying it gave nothing to teachers to motivate kids to do better.
Ward Ten’s John Avard caught the whole social promotion clause saying he didn’t think that was supposed to happen in the district and Mayor Ted Gatsas said it looked like the policy made it okay to socially promote athletes. That caused Ward One’s Sarah Ambrogi to totally wig out saying the policy didn’t encourage social promotion. Ward Twelve’s Connie Van Houten, who pulled the item off the consent agenda and got the whole conversation started with some questions about the wording, politely put Ambrogi in her place for criticizing board members who were questioning the policy at the board rather than appearing at the committee. Van Houten thought it perfectly appropriate to question things at the board and absurd to suggest that the only place to quesiton policies was at committee. (We agree. ) The policy passed with Gatsas, Langton, and Dunphy opposed. Avard’s sentiment seemed to carry the the argument and that was this: While this policy could be better, it’s a whole lot better than what we have now.
News tidbits: Ben Dick is stepping down as the President of the Manchester Education Association and Hallsville School Principal Christi Michaud, the one who approved the bullying lesson for the fourth grade class, is stepping out to become the Director of Data, Assessments and Accountability for the Timberlane Regional School District. How fitting.
News from our own backyard continues after this.
The N H Senate Finance Committee voted yesterday to reduce the state’s Business Enterprise and Business Profits taxes, which effects businesses employing ninety five of New Hampshire’s private sector workforce. The committee voted to lower the B P T two tenths of a percent w from eight point five to eight point three percent and to reduce the B E T twenty five one thousandths of a percent from point seven five percent to point seven two five percent in two thousand seventeen. Both taxes would drop twice over the next four years, with the BPT ending at seven point nine percent, a reduction of six tenths of a percent and the BET at point six seven five percent, a reduction of seventy five one thousandths of a percent by 2020. The committee also voted to more than triple the Research and Development Tax Credit to $7 million dollars as part of the budget proposal.
With these words, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders officially entered the race to be the Democratic nominee for President of the United States:
Today, with your support and the support of millions of people throughout this country, we begin a political revolution to transform our country economically, politically, socially and environmentally.
Today, we stand here and say loudly and clearly that; “Enough is enough. This great nation and its government belong to all of the people, and not to a handful of billionaires, their Super-PACs and their lobbyists.”
Brothers and sisters: Now is not the time for thinking small. Now is not the time for the same old – same old establishment politics and stale inside-the-beltway ideas.
Now is the time for millions of working families to come together, to revitalize American democracy, to end the collapse of the American middle class and to make certain that our children and grandchildren are able to enjoy a quality of life that brings them health, prosperity, security and joy – and that once again makes the United States the leader in the world in the fight for economic and social justice, for environmental sanity and for a world of peace.
We’ve linked to the text of his entire speech from this news read at Girard at Large dot com. Hillary Clinton has, of course, already declared her candidacy. Former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley is expected to announce his candidacy in the coming week as is former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, former New York Governor George Pataki and former Texas Governor on the G O P side.