Manchester Schools Plan to Consolidate Three High Schools into One State-of-the-Art Facility | Education
Manchester’s three traditional high schools – Central, West and Memorial – are said to be grouped together in a newly constructed building as part of a plan city officials will discuss this week.
The recommendations, developed by Schools Superintendent John Goldhardt, also call for the expansion of Manchester School of Technology by converting Memorial High School into a new Manchester Career and Technology School, and renovating most elementary schools in over the next decade.
“These recommendations are not intended to be an all-or-nothing plan, nor to be the final say on the matter,” Goldhardt wrote in a note to school board members. “This is meant to be a starting point.”
The Manchester School Board Committee is due to hear the recommendations in a special remote meeting on Wednesday at 6 p.m.
Goldhardt asks school board members to receive his report and schedule public feedback sessions before finally making a decision about whether to pursue either option.
âThere is a lot to absorb in these recommendations, and some will undoubtedly be seen as controversial,â Goldhardt wrote. âAs a community, we have long delayed making difficult decisions about our school facilities, putting short-term savings ahead of long-term good.
âWe are left with aging buildings that are expensive to operate and unsuitable as a modern educational institution. It hurts not only our students and staff, but our community as a whole, as our public schools are not the raffle that they could and should be.
Once the community feedback sessions are held, a summary of suggestions and concerns will be submitted to the school board prior to any vote.
If the school board committee accepts the recommendations, or accepts the recommendations with modifications, the accepted plan will include budget figures and will be presented to the mayor’s council and aldermen.
If the aldermen support payment for the plan, Phase 1 will include purchasing a property for the new high school by 2023.
Goldhardt was asked in January to draw up a list of facility recommendations, after several board members expressed concerns over a study prepared by MGT Consulting Group. That study recommended closing four elementary schools and one high school, while merging two more high schools to deal with declining enrollment and more than $ 150 million in deferred maintenance and other costs.
The average age of school buildings in the Manchester School District is around 70, reports Goldhardt, and ‘not much can be done to renovate older buildings to meet the technological needs of today’s learners.’ hui. “
According to Goldhardt, demographics show enrollment trends in the district will decline by at least 12% over the next 10 years, as the number of families with school-aged children in Manchester and across the state shrinks.
Goldhardt writes that the purpose of his recommendations is to make Manchester schools places where students are prepared for the future and where âexcellence and equity are fully in place in every classroom, every day for every student. “
According to Goldhardt, Manchester’s high school graduation rate has steadily declined and is currently the lowest in the state.
He called the current high school graduation requirement of the minimum 20 credits âunacceptableâ.
âIn fact, after the district lowered the standards for graduation credits, the graduation rate went down, not up,â Goldhardt reports.
Among Goldhardt’s recommendations:
â¢ The only high school should be built on a property large enough to accommodate a 3-4 storey building, ample parking, football stadium, softball and baseball fields, soccer / lacrosse / hockey field. lawn, training / physical education field, and indoor swimming pool possible.
The school must also be large enough to accommodate at least 3,500 students. The historic statue of Abe Lincoln at Central would be incorporated into the design and form a prominent part of the campus.
The new school would be headed by a director and six deputy directors; each would have the same students for four years:
â¢ Redevelop the current Manchester School of Technology building into a centralized Manchester nursery school;
â¢ Redevelop and restore the Central High Practical Arts Building into a Manchester School of the Arts with an emphasis on theater, musical theater, technical theater, music, dance and visual arts;
â¢ Redesigning the Central High Classical Building to become the district offices, additional learning space for Manchester School of the Arts and space for Bridge Academy and Manchester Online School;
â¢ West High School would no longer be used for school district purposes;
â¢ All middle schools would function as magnetic schools, which would allow children to hone in on a specific subject, such as performing arts or engineering. Parkside and Southside would continue as 5-8 Middle Schools, while Hillside and McLaughlin Middle Schools would be remodeled and prepared for the 5-8 grade setup. Grade 5 students would begin attending Hillside and McLaughlin in September 2022.
Goldhardt also recommends renovations to many elementary schools in the city.
âTo do something of this magnitude will require a community lift, but it will benefit our city for generations to come,â writes Goldhardt. “We have no more time to waste – I think it’s time for us to get down to business.”