Walker: Wants others to quit as well.

Walker: Wants others to quit as well.

They’re not exactly dropping like flies, yet, but a second contender for the Republican presidential nomination has dropped out of the race.  To the surprise of many, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, the once formidable front runner, unexpectedly suspended his campaign yesterday, saying in part quote

Today, I believe that I am being called to lead by helping to clear the race so that a positive conservative message can rise to the top of the field. With that in mind, I will suspend my campaign immediately.

I encourage other Republican presidential candidates to consider doing the same so the voters can focus on a limited number of candidates who can offer a positive conservative alternative to the current frontrunner. (sic) This is fundamentally important to the future of the party and – ultimately – to the future of our country.

Walker joins former Texas Governor Rick Perry in departing the race.

Gatsas, Preston, Amy Allen & Livingston

Gatsas, Preston, Principal, Amy Allen & Supt. Debra Livingston

Yesterday, at Manchester’s Parker Varney Elementary School, the New Hampshire Department of Education recognized Parker Varney preschool teacher Ashley Preston as the two thousand sixteen Teacher of the Year.  The award comes on the heels of Parker Varney itself being recognized as the state’s school of the year.  In a press release, the district said the selection committee recognized Preston’s quote “ability to help her young students be curious, critical thinkers and problem solvers.”  Quote:

“Preschool students are often underestimated, and I feel fortunate that I can be their voice, help them gain the recognition they deserve, and prove their learning is valuable,” wrote Preston in her application to be Teacher of the Year.

At the school assembly for the surprise announcement were Preston’s parents, brothers, daughter and other family members along with district administrators, various school board members and aldermen, state board of education officials and Mayor Ted Gatsas.  In winning the Teacher of the Year title, Preston becomes New Hampshire’s candidate for National Teacher of the Year.

Women's Conference announced

Women’s Conference announced

The Souhegan Valley Chamber of Commerce is presenting its first Souhegan Valley Women’s Leadership Conference on Thursday, October fifteenth.  The purpose of this event is to provide an informative and useful day of information and networking for women entrepreneurs.  There will be three sessions followed by lunch and keynote speaker Marcelle Langan DiFalco, author of The Big Sister’s Guide to the World of Work: The Inside Rules Every Working Girl Must Know.  For complete details and registration information, visit souhegan dot net.

News from our own backyard continues after this.

MSD: Withholding Smarter Balanced Assessment scores

MSD: Withholding Smarter Balanced Assessment scores

The Manchester School District, in response to a right to know request we filed last Thursday, has acknowledged it has received the city’s Smarter Balanced Assessment scores from the state Department of Education and has had them for several weeks.  However, in an email sent to us yesterday, Superintendent Debra Livingston denied our request for the scores to be released, saying they would be released in conjunction with the state D o E.  (Interestingly, she copied the entire school board on her response, despite our not copying them on our inquiry.)

Results withheld

Results withheld

Just four hours later, the district issued a statement saying the scores will be available to parents and the public on November twelfth.   The statement also announced that S A U staff will quote

“soon be reviewing the data and preparing instructional materials for principals and teachers to use in order to interpret and make the best use of the data.”

It also said the data will be sent to the schools later this week and given to teachers on Monday, September twenty eighth.   Livingston said the data would be used to quote “establish a baseline of achievement.”

Glassner: Got the info

Glassner: Got the info

We made the inquiry after State Board of Education Chair Tom Raffio told Sid Glassner, during his show Inside Education on this radio station, that the state had the assessment scoring and had sent it to school districts weeks ago.  Glassner discussed it at length last Thursday during the Girard at Large “Is Our Children Learning?” segment.  According to the state department of education, the scores were supposed to be released in July so districts could use the data to inform instruction in the coming school year.

Rich Girard

Girard: Files Right to Know Request

Meanwhile, the Manchester School District has yet to release which school board members take taxpayer provided health and or dental benefits.  Following Mayor Ted Gatsas‘ proposal that school board members pay one hundred percent of the premium for the benefits last Monday, Girard at Large filed a Right to Know Request asking for the names of the elected officials who take the benefits, the plans they’re taking and the premium cost for both the district and the official.

Livingston: Stalling information release

Livingston: Stalling information release

Superintendent Debra Livingston sent an email on Wednesday said it would take the district five days to provide the information, justifying the delay as necessary to consult with legal counsel.  That five day  period having come and gone, we renewed our request yesterday and, in doing so, emailed every member of the school board to ask them to disclose whether or not they took the taxpayer provided benefits and direct the district to provide the cost information if they did not know it.

Avard: Argues against releasing benefit information

Avard: Argues against releasing benefit information

The only response we’ve received so far came from Ward Ten Committeeman John Avard, who recommended the district not release the information, claiming it was protected by HIPPA and warning that if I published the information I received about the aldermen from the city, which I got within about two hours of my request, that I could be fined as the the city and school district could be fined; twenty thousand dollars for every person whose information was released.

When reminded that the district tried and failed to block the release of the information on the same basis when requested in two thousand twelve, which we sent with our email as a proof, Avard did not reply.  So far, no member of the school board has come forward to say either they take them or not.

Super Secret: Benefits for school board members?

By the way, Avard was on the list of folks taking the city’s health and dental benefits in two thousand twelve.  He defended taking them at the time, noting how hard he worked for the district and how much it had cost him in lost income from his business.

We’ll see how long the district continues to withhold this information and how long it takes school board members individually to fess up to taking the benefits.  Who knows, maybe it’s not the kind of thing they want known in an election year.

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