Off to school: And a promising, pivotal year
Today marks the start of an important year for Manchester’s public schools. A lot is riding on changes already made, and those anticipated.
First, and at long last, the school year begins after Labor Day. Second, the calendar was altered to lengthen instructional time in the hope that the school day would be more productive. Third, a new superintendent brings the prospect (however remote) of a more productive relationship between the school board and the administration.
Pushing the first day of school into September was a huge accomplishment at first resisted by the Manchester Education Association. The pleasant change was made when the school calendar was shrunk from 180 to 175 days while class time was increased. These alterations show that as dysfunctional as the school system has been at times, progress is possible.
Adding to the sense of hope is the arrival of Superintendent Debra Livingston at a time when there seems to be a sense among many school board members that substantial reforms have to be made.
It is too early to tell whether the school district has turned a corner. Two important indicators will come later this school year, when we see whether a sensible contract can be negotiated with the MEA and whether the district again damages teacher morale by issuing dozens of pink slips. The two are related, of course. Parents will be watching. May they not be let down.