Just shy of three years at the helm, Manchester School Superintendent Dr. Debra Livingston yesterday announced her retirement, effective October first. Livingston arrived in Manchester from Fall Mountain Regional School District in the summer of 2 0 1 3. A statement issued by the district making the announcement listed the development of the Manchester Academic Standards as one of her achievements, as well as the creation of the Innovation Zone which governs the city’s priority and focus schools. Installing full day kindergarten in all the district’s elementary schools was also listed as an achievement.
Livingston has come under increasing fire for decisions she’s made, such as saying the district could work through the financial shortfall created by the teachers contract when it couldn’t and presenting a false set of Smarter Balanced Assessment scores to the Board of School Committee.
The election of four new board members last November, the subsequent shakeup of committee assignments by Mayor Ted Gatsas, the election of Ward Nine Committee Member Arthur Beaudry as board Vice-Chair and the adoption of new board rules made the political landscape more challenging for Livingston as she lost key allies in the election, was forced to disclose more information by the rules and has faced blunt challenges to her proposals.
Livingston congratulated and thanked district officials, quote:
“The team of faculty, staff and administrators in our schools and at the district office is the best I’ve worked with in my career. What we’ve achieved in Manchester and the high quality education we provide to our kids are because of all the dedicated people around me.”
The school district has recently seen former long time Assistant Superintendent Karen Burkush retire, current Assistant Superintendent David Ryan be a finalist for two superintendencies, and Innovation Zone Executive Director Patricia Snow be a finalist for an assistant superintendent position in Nashua.
The school board is expected to appoint a search committee at its meeting on Monday night and launch a search for Livingston’s replacement.
On the heels of Candia’s School Board Chair Nicole LaFlamme saying she felt like opponents of a proposed policy that would give transgendered students the right to use bathrooms and locker rooms of the opposite sex, play on sports teams of the opposite sex, and bar school officials from telling parents their children are identifying as transgendered in school just didn’t want transgendered students in their school, the Candia School Board voted four to one to approve the policy. Matthew Woodrow was the only board member who stood with parents in opposition. A substantial majority of the well more than one hundred people who attended last night’s meeting were opposed , including one parent who submitted a petition with over three hundred signatures from those against the changes. Opponents, who largely advocated for time to develop a different policy that was responsive to the needs and sensibilities of all children, were accused by one resident of lacking compassion for the transgendered.
News from our own backyard continues after this.
The New Hampshire Senate had a busy day, yesterday. It voted to lift the cap on funds entered into the Revenue Stabilization Account, also known as the Rainy Day Fund. Removing the cap will allow the state to transfer funds above the five percent of revenues cap set in 1993.
The Senate also passed H B 1 6 5 6, which provides an exemption to the real estate transfer tax when a property’s title is transferred but the ownership remains the same. Senator Andy Sanborn, Republican from Bedford, said there was quote :
“…no reason why a business should be subject to the Real Estate Transfer tax for a change to a property or business in name only, which is not the same as a sale or typical real estate transaction between two separate parties.”
H B 1 6 8 1 also received a thumbs up. The bill establishes a commission to study giving drug addicts clean needles in exchange for their used ones. Senator Sharon Carson, Republican from Londonderry, called the bill a quote : “responsible step towards finding a solution to lessen the occurrence of addicts sharing or using dirty needles” end quote. She said the heroin epidemic required legislators to evaluate the idea.
A repeal of the so called Buffer Zone Bill failed on a tie vote. The bill, which prevents protesters from being next to abortion clinics, would repeal legislation that is nearly identical to a Massachusetts law that was stricken down by the United States Supreme Court. The N H law has remained on the books unenforced since the court ruled. Republican Senators Jerry Little of Weare and Nancy Stiles of Hampton joined with the senate’s ten Democrats to block the bill’s repeal.
Senator Andy Sanborn, Republican from Bedford, hit the nail on the head when he said the bill wasn’t about abortion, it was about Freedom of Speech. Apparently, one can’t have it within earshot of those who don’t like it, at least on this issue. What’s next? Free Speech Zones on college campuses? Oh, wait…
That’s news from our own backyard! Girard at Large hour ___ is next!