Town Hall: several sessions planned to solicit comments on the facilities plan | Town hall
MANCHESTER SCHOOLS Superintendent John goldhardt said he plans to start hosting feedback sessions on recommendations from his school facilities in August and September.
âWe want optimal participation,â Goldhardt told school board members last week. “We’ve learned that the June to July period doesn’t get a lot of people, so we want to make sure we do that when we have more people who want to participate.”
Goldhardt’s recommendations include replacing Manchester’s three traditional high schools – Central, West and Memorial – with a newly constructed building, expanding Manchester School of Technology by transforming Memorial into a new Manchester Career and Technology School, and renovating most elementary schools over the next decade.
Goldhardt said the plan is to hold feedback sessions in elementary schools, using a workshop model with participants participating in small collaborative groups.
âWe want to get as many ideas, suggestions and feedback as possible, so that we can make voices heard,â Goldhardt said.
The district is also planning to hold sessions with students and staff, as well as conversations with members of the Greater Manchester House, Goldhardt said. Interpreters and signatories will be present.
Goldhardt said he plans to attend as many sessions as possible.
He hopes the data from the sessions will be compiled into a report to be presented to the school board by January, so members can begin making decisions on the recommendations.
This prompted Jim O’Connell say he hopes the current school board will have an opportunity to debate the recommendations. As the municipal elections in November approach, some council members may no longer be in office in January 2022.
âI encourage them to look at a timeline where this board has a chance to vote on what it might be,â O’Connell said.
Mayor Joyce craig said she saw no need to speed up the process.
âWe appreciate the work that has been done,â Craig said. âWe’re very data driven, which I think is great. You’ve recommended bold changes, and I don’t think we should compromise the work that needs to be done to cut the process down by a few months.
“I think when we make these decisions – and we’re all prepared to make tough decisions if need be – we want to make sure we’re making the right decisions for our students and the city of Manchester.”
If the school board committee accepts Goldhardt’s recommendations – or accepts them with modifications – the plan will go to the mayor’s and aldermen’s council with budget figures attached. The estimated cost of building a new high school ranges from $ 90 million to $ 180 million, depending on where it is located.
Goldhardt was asked in January to compile a list of installation recommendations after several board members raised concerns about a study prepared by MGT Consulting Group. That study recommended closing four elementary schools and one high school while merging two other high schools to deal with declining enrollment and more than $ 150 million in maintenance and other deferred costs.
The average age of school buildings in the Manchester School District is around 70 years old, Goldhardt reported, and “there is little that can be done to renovate older buildings to meet the technological needs of young people. today’s learners â.
According to Goldhardt, demographics show enrollment 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.
Among Goldhardt’s recommendations:
â¢ The only high school should be built on a property large enough to accommodate a three to four story building, a large parking lot, a football stadium, softball and baseball fields, a soccer field, lacrosse and hockey. on grass, a training / physical education field and possibly an indoor swimming pool;
â¢ The school would be large enough to accommodate at least 3,500 students. The historic statue of Abraham Lincoln at Central would be incorporated into the design and would form an important part of the campus;
â¢ The new school would be headed by a principal and six deputy principals, each with the same students for four years:
â¢ The current Manchester School of Technology building would be converted into a centralized nursery school in Manchester;
â¢ The Central High Practical Arts Building would be restored to become a Manchester School of the Arts, with an emphasis on theater, musical theater, technical theater, music, dance and the visual arts;
â¢ The Central High Classical Building would be used for 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 by the district;
â¢ All colleges would function as magnetic schools, allowing students to focus on specific areas, such as performing arts or engineering. Parkside and Southside would continue as colleges with grades 5-8, and Hillside and McLaughlin colleges would be redesigned and prepared for the class 5-8 setup. Grade 5 students would start attending Hillside and McLaughlin by September 2022.
Goldhardt told the school board last week that he plans to have at least a draft of a ‘back to school’ plan for the 2021-2022 school year by the next group meeting. .
âI use the word ‘back’ instead of ‘back’ on purpose,” Goldhardt said. âThere’s a reason for that, because my intention is to have a full return to school this fall, a grand entry rather than a re-entry, and we want it to be a celebration to be back in person. “
A public meeting to discuss the rehabilitation of a “redlisted” bridge spanning Huse Road on I-293 and NH 101 in Manchester is scheduled for 7pm on Tuesday.
The meeting will be held remotely. Information on how to access the Zoom session is available at point.nh.gov.
The planned work includes repairing the bridge and approaching the roadway. The bridge rehabilitation work will be carried out in two phases, with alternating one-way traffic and temporary traffic lights.
A sidewalk will remain open to pedestrians during the work. The project is expected to start in spring 2022 and last around seven months.
Following the meeting, the public will have the opportunity to ask questions and make comments.
Paul Feely is the Town Hall reporter for the New Hampshire Union Leader and Sunday News. Contact him at [email protected]