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Manchester School Board Candidate Q&A

November 01. 2013 11:56PM

The Questions:

1) What should be the district's highest priority?

2) What is your position on the Common Core State Standards? Do you support the superintendent's recent proposal for the district to develop its own "Manchester Academic Standards"?

3) Should the school board propose one budget or at least two, one of them a "tax cap" budget?


LangtonDebra Gagnon Langton


Age: 52

Occupation: Middle school teacher

Relevant Experience: Parent, teacher, taxpayer, current school board member

1) Direct student services.

2) The public roll out of CCSS was not implemented correctly. More public input and discussion is needed. Policy changes of this magnitude need to be fully vetted in the full view of all stakeholders. Part 2: Yes.

3) One budget. It is the responsibility of the Board of School Committee to clearly and accurately express the educational needs of the district and the cost associated with such needs. The BMA needs a concise picture to ensure a comprehensive education to all Manchester students. This is best done with one responsible budget. It is then the charge of the BMA to make budgetary decisions as they so desire.

BrowningSarah L. Browning

Age: 61

Occupation: Currently an administrator at the New Hampshire Department of Education; retiring in December.

Relevant experience: I attended Manchester public schools. I have worked at the New Hampshire department of education for over a decade. I have worked with parents, school districts and people receiving services from vocational rehabilitation. I have been involved with developing and managing the department's legislative agenda and its rule-making. I am a member of the New Hampshire Bar Association and have developed an expertise in education law.

1) The highest priority should be setting the course for the delivery of an education that prepares all students to achieve their full potential and become well-rounded, civically engaged adults. We should then give our administrators and teachers the freedom execute that course, support their decisions and expect that they will deliver the education in a learning environment free from bullying and harassment. We should be their partners, not the micro-managers.

2)I support the superintendent's plan to develop Manchester Academic Standards.

3) The board should prepare one budget; the best framework for delivering a quality education to all students that balances the effective use of all available resources with the need to spend public money wisely.


StewartChris Stewart


Age: 36

Occupation: Manchester small business owner

Relevant experience: I've spent the last two years serving Manchester as Ward 3's representative on the school board. During that time I've helped conduct an academic audit, balance two budgets, pass a $2.8 million dollar technology bond, hire a new superintendent and successfully negotiate three union contracts.

1) Our highest priority should be to increase our overall student achievement by insuring that there is a well trained, well supported and well compensated teacher in every classroom in the city. Our community must do a better job of teaching our children.

2) I support Common Core. Common Core standards are better than New Hampshire's current standards and I believe that by increasing the rigor of our current standards it will lead to an increase in our student achievement. Manchester should first implement Common Core before attempting to develop its own set of standards.

3) The school board should send one budget request to the aldermen. It's up to the full school board, working with the administration, to decide what the budget request should be.

GrohTheodore Groh

Age: 23

Occupation: (Left blank)

Relevant experience: I bring perspective as a young professional in Manchester and a recent college graduate. As a young professional and recent graduate, I have a clearer understanding of what it means to have our students be college and career ready. I have also volunteered my time for after school programs here in Ward 3 including working with ESL students and assisting with an after-school art program.

1) What should be the district's highest priority?

Serving the needs of our students should be our highest priority. In the previous curriculum audit, the auditors said that sometimes it appears like the district is being run for the benefit of the adults, and not the students. That must change! We need to bring the sizes of our classrooms down to within state standards, reform our curriculum, and ensure the safety of our schools. If elected, I hope to work on these issues with other school board members in a way that is cooperative, collaborative, and student focused.

2) What is your position on the Common Core State Standards? Do you support the superintendent's recent proposal for the district to develop its own "Manchester Academic Standards"?

I fully the support the Superintendent's proposal to develop "Manchester Academic Standards." It combines the strong need to develop and implement updated curriculum standards that will allow our students to be college and career ready with the strong N.H tradition of local control. It is my hope that these Manchester Standards will improve on what is good about Common Core, while shaping it to addresses the unique challenges and strengths of the Manchester School District.

3) Should the school board propose one budget or at least two, one of them a "tax cap" budget?

It is my understanding that the Board of School Committee is required by the City Charter to submit a budget under the tax cap. It is also my understanding that the Board of School is required to draft a budget that meets state standards. As long as the amount of money allotted to education under the tax cap does not allow Manchester to meet all state minimum standards and stay within the tax cap, the School Board will be forced to continue to propose two budgets.


RokasTed Rokas


Age: 36

Occupation: Public servant/grad student

Relevant experience: Current school board member and current 3-term state representative Ward 5; volunteer CYO high school basketball coach

1) Redistricting.

2) I support the Manchester Academic Standards. Common Core should be the "floor" and the Manchester Academic Standards will be the "ceiling".

3) The school board should propose a "tax cap" budget and a "school needs" budget.

FreemanLisa Freeman

Age: 52

Occupation: Personal care manager

Relevant experience: I have been involved in my child's education in the Manchester school system for the last twelve years. I have attended many meetings of the board, West High and all the schools my child attended. I have long-term experience managing health care for private clients.

1) It should be to restore order and decorum in all Manchester public schools. This can be accomplished by applying higher standards in the curriculum and applying a higher standard for behavior and appearance. Parents should be brought back into the educational equation.

2) I absolutely support the development of Manchester academic standards. Fortunately, we have a road-map to follow in developing this "new" curriculum. We need only to look back to the point in time when American students lead the world educationally and duplicate that curriculum.

3) They should propose one budget and it should be a tax cap budget. The hard working people of Manchester need to know they are getting the biggest "bang for their buck." Clearly, education dollars don't go as far as they used to. Therefore, it is imperative that the school board, through its leadership, foster a desire for higher scores not higher budgets because the latter does not guarantee the former.


BergeronDan Bergeron

(nominated in 2012)

Age: 51

Occupation: Contractor, IBM Software Group

Relevant experience: Active parent in the Manchester School District since 2001; former board member Manchester Transit Authority; join board member Manchester Foundation for Education; president of Manchester Memorial High School's Parents of Performing Students; member of the Manchester Memorial High School Booster Club; adjunct at Daniel Webster College since 2008.

1) Budget, culture, reputation, strategic planning, and continuous student input make my Top Ten. It is imperative that we budget creatively to stop losing dedicated educators. How? A combination of tough intervention, out of the box methodology, realistic and effective stakeholder/BOSC input, audit recommendations, along with the collaborative style of Dr. Livingston.

Truancy and drop-out rates require immediate intervention. Board Development, Professional Development, Aldermanic-BOSC collaboration is vital with input from Hooksett and Manchester students and parents, and businesses. Student, teacher, parent, and community morale have been impacted negatively. Despite the first wave of positive trending, it is imperative that MSD use data to set , measure, and promote realized/failed benchmarks all while reporting audit recommended initiatives.

2) I have been transparent and verbal about my support for CCSS. My research included educator, student, and parent interviews, as well as nonpartisan media sources, such as NHPR's Sam Evans Brown's coverage. Manchester teachers are excited about CCSS, and busy incorporating the standards in their existing Math and ELA curriculum. Parents and students are encouraged to see the enthusiasm from their educators. Dr. Livingston's proposal brilliantly included testimony and statements from in, and out of district voices representing most angles.

3) Prior to my BOSC Ward 6 nomination, It was eye opening as a parent and tax payer to hear former superintendent, Dr. Brennan, propose a budget that represented what our district needed to maintain current staff levels, services, course offerings, etc., AND the budget dictated by the tax cap. It will be SEVERAL years before we can recover from the first tax cap budget, both in reputation and talent. I look forward to gaining incredible insight relative to the budget process as a contributing BOSC member all while utilizing all resources, such as DOE RSA guidance, our talented MSD business team, current and former BOSC members and aldermen, parents, students, educators, as well as successful approaches from other school districts across the nation. In the event the figures are prepared for two budgets, I look forward to an educated and collaborated decision as to the budget(s) to be submitted.

DunphyRobyn Dunphy

Age: 47

Occupation: Teacher/Educator

Relevant experience: Master of Education; BS Degree in Management Science, concentration in accounting and finance; decade in education as a teacher and paraprofessional, including years in Manchester School District; parent of Manchester student; former President of Parkside Middle School PTO; Big Brothers/Big Sisters volunteer and NH Special Olympics volunteer

1) Long-term planning. Currently we lack the foresight to make such plans, and lack the political will to implement them. I will give two examples of this: West High School and redistricting. In 2003, Bedford announced it was leaving the district; they formally left in 2008. Since then,the district discussed the following for West: redistricting, an academy model, school-within-a-school ideas, district offices - but nothing has been done. Meanwhile, we are in the process of losing Hooksett students for their largest argument of overcrowding in Central. As for redistricting, we are now asking parents to move their children months after school has started. This is poor planning. A good redistricting plan evaluates enrollment trends, asks for input from parents and teachers regarding existing student needs, and if moves are needed, proper lead time is given to all involved. We should be discussing 2014-15 redistricting and not currently moving children for the 2013-14 school year.

2) The concept of standards is the basis of any organization. Without them,we cannot define success, best practices, and improvement opportunities. However, Common Core has been vague (what defines success)and complicated (funding mechanisms) at the same time. The district has mangled the Common Core debate. Instead of addressing legitimate issues and questions from concerned parents, it assumed this would go through. Only until these parents made their concerns known did the district take this issue seriously. Dr. Livingston's proposal is a good start. She emphasizes local control; her proposal suggests we strive beyond basic educational benchmarks; she has reset the process so that she can obtain input from all stockholders, and more importantly, gives the district the opportunity to address questions and concerns. However, we still need answers on how we pay for this, what this means for federal funding, and whether it maintains local control.

3) One budget. As a member of the school board, I must keep in mind two things. First is that I am an advocate for students, and I must fight for programs and systems - and the funding for it - that best help them achieve their goals. The second thing is that the voters of Ward 6, including many parents, overwhelmingly support the spending cap. That means a school board member must work with fellow members, the schools, and the administration to implement best practices at the best value. Two budgets suggest that we are more concerned with protecting "sacred cows" than striking the balance the citizens of Manchester demand we find. One budget demonstrates we take that respon seriously, and that we will work within voter mandated guidelines to execute their wishes.


WitteLisa Witte

Age: 43

Occupation: Director of curriculum, instruction, and assessment in SAU 34 (Hillsboro, Deering, Washington, and Windsor)

Relevant Experience: I am a parent, education professional with 19 years of experience, and a taxpayer in the city of Manchester.

1) First and foremost, the highest priority for the district must be providing our children with outstanding opportunities to learn and grow. As a parent, I have a vested interest in the quality of the Manchester School District. I want to ensure the wonderful experiences my daughter has had thus far continue through graduation. Every parent has this same investment, and each and every child deserves an excellent educational experience. As a board member, I view my role as ensuring we keep students at the front and center of our work, balancing the challenge of being fiscally responsible while doing so.

2) I applaud the district's decision to develop its own academic standards that draw from myriad sets of rigorous standards – including the Common Core. It is my belief that in many ways, the Common Core State Standards are higher than other standards that have existed or currently exist, but I certainly see areas where they could be enhanced and improved. Manchester has the potential to lead the state in education, and I believe my nineteen years of professional experience in education will help the district move in that direction. The development of the Manchester Academic Standards is a powerful and potentially game-changing first step.

3) As a taxpayer, I share the same concerns as others when it comes to the ever-increasing cost of living and rising taxes. However, I'm not certain that just because a budget meets the tax cap means that it is fiscally responsible. I believe the school board needs to develop a budget that accurately reflects the needs of the district. In a way, it is actually fiscally irresponsible to propose a budget that is known not to meet established needs because doing so guarantees that any negative impacts from that budget will compound over time and be felt for years to come. I support proposing one budget that represents the actual needs of the district, such as the development and implementation of the Manchester Academic Standards.

TerrioRoss Terrio

Age: 48

Occupation: Pharmacist

Relevant experience: I have volunteered as a teacher's aide, I am a licensed flight instructor and parent of THREE Manchester schoolchildren.

1) Improving the academic performance of Manchester schoolchildren and a reduction in overcrowded classrooms.

2) I am against Common Core. Many schools in other states and countries provide an excellent education without relying on Common Core. I support the superintendent on the issue of developing our own high standards for the district.

3) The school board should propose one budget that is honest in funding the school district as the board thinks it should be funded.


ConnorsErika Connors


Occupation: Owner/director of Melody Pines Day Camp

Relevant experience: Current member of the Manchester school board serving on the Curriculum and Instruction Committee, Buildings and Sites Committee, Strategic Planning Committee, and Superintendent Search Committee; youth camp owner/director; mother of three children ages 10, 7, and 5; former middle school teacher; Green Acres School PTG; school volunteer; Youth Alpine Race Team coordinator; youth soccer and softball coach.

1) The district's highest priority should be to provide a high quality education for every student. In order to do so, we need to move forward in evaluating and improving on our program of studies, curriculum, standards, management systems, and teaching and learning in the classroom. This is not an easy task and will require the focus, dedication, and positive outlook of every board member, administrator, teacher, and professional in our district. Our new administrative team has already begun work in these areas and I will continue to work alongside them and support them in doing so.

2) I, along with many of our city's educators, believe the vast majority of the CCSS are clear and appropriate for the grade level in which they are connected. For example, a simple kindergarten standard states that children should be able to "count to 100 by ones and tens". Our educators, however, have found there to be standards that are missing or need to be adjusted. Therefore, I fully support the development of Manchester Academic Standards. This will allow our professional educators to fully evaluate the standards to make sure they are appropriate and meet the needs of our students. In addition, we need to recognize that these are standards that every child should achieve and that there are students within our district who need to be challenged with additional higher level standards and enrichment programs to meet their academic needs.

3) The Manchester School Board should build a budget that is both fiscally responsible and meets the educational needs of our students. The school board, together with the administration, needs to use the data available to evaluate our current programs and district needs. It must then use the data to show the need for each line item and expense as it directly relates to teaching and learning. In doing so, we may find that one budget is sufficient and falls within the tax cap. According to the City Charter, the school district "shall develop" its "annual budget proposals," in accordance with the tax cap. At the same time, however, Manchester School District Policy states that "one of the primary responsibilities of the board is to secure adequate funds to carry out an effective program of instruction". Therefore, if the budget developed does not fall within the tax cap, two budgets must be proposed.

VaillancourtSteve Vaillancourt

Age: 61

Occupation: Retired

Relevant experience: As a state representative from Ward 8, I helped draft the bill responding to the Claremont decision in 1999. Manchester has received more than half a billion dollars in state aid thanks to this bill and others which have come after it.

1) Quality teachers can make a real difference in the lives of our students. The greatest influence on my life was from my 11th grade English teacher. We must provide teachers with the freedom to treat students as individuals and to inspire students to become lifelong learners.

2) I spoke against this "one size fits all" approach at a recent school board meeting. Throughout my life, both publicly and privately, I have championed the cause of individual rights. I cannot support common core which devalues individual initiative in favor of the collective mentality which ruined so many socialist societies in the 20th centuries. Common core also would force teachers to abandon innovative approaches in a rush to meet standards and test results. That's not a good thing.

3) I supported the tax cap; in fact I sponsored legislation in Concord which made the cap legal in Manchester. The school board should live within parameters set forth in the tax cap and can do so by doing away with non-essential positions like public relations employees. We must focus on educating, not on appearing like we are educating. It also doesn't help when certain school board members take $20,000 or more from what could be used for educating students to get on the city health care system. Unlike the Ward 8 incumbent, I would not do that, thus freeing up monies for educating our children.


Art Beaudry


Relevant Experience: U.S. Army veteran, retired captain, Manchester Fire Department; trustee, New Hampshire Retirement System; chairman trustee, Manchester Contributory Retirement System; Manchester school committeeman

1) To provide the best educational experience to all our students.

2) I have reservations about entering into another unfunded federal program. No Child Left Behind has been a dismal failure. The District fell into the stigma of a District in Need of Improvement. I am concerned that two of the recognized educational experts on the committee establishing Common Core refused to sign off on the document stating the standards lack quality and are not developmentally appropriate for young children. There hasn't been a dollar amount associated with Common Core. The Commissioner of Education was asked what happens when the waiver expires and the Fed's discontinue Common Core. The answer was unknown. Transparency, collection and database storage of non-educational information is troubling to many. I did support the recommendation to allow Manchester to develop its own set of standards. I believe we have some of the best principals and teachers in the state. If we give our teachers the sufficient tools and professional development they can conquer anything.

3) I believe it's the school board's obligation to present a budget that adequately funds the district and complies with state and federal mandates. The school board has no authority to raise revenues. It is up to the aldermen to determine how the money is distributed staying within the cap.

BarryJ. Gail Barry

Occupation: Retired registered pediatric nurse, business owner

Relevant experience: Six-term state representative,Chairman Hillsborough County Delegation, Health and Human Services Oversight Committee. I have worked on the budgets of both the state and county leaving a surplus in both.

1) The highest priority should be the use of the 3 R's, stressing reading in the early years which is the backbone of all education. The preparation of all our children to meet the future is the goal.

2) I feel we should not lower our standards to Common Core but exceed them with our own.

3) Since the voters have voted in the tax cap the tax cap is the law and should be the only budget. Anyone on the board may prepare a want list if so desired.


AvardJohn Avard


Age: 46

Occupation: Chiropractor

Relevant experience: Three terms on the Manchester Board of School Committee (6 years), 5 children, 3 of which are still in Manchester schools (2 in college), business owner/private practice chiropractor for 22 years.

1) We, as a district, must balance our energy and attention between developing and implementing the highest academic standards and our responsibility to properly manage our fiscal resources. Negotiating sustainable contracts with our employees, minimizing wasteful spending, constantly looking for efficiencies in all departments including those of the physical plant, and seeking alternate revenue streams (such as public/private partnerships) help us best use the limited finances allocated to the school district.

2) On the surface, the concept of the Common Core Standards seems to make good educational sense. I fear, however, that the implementation of the national standards has too many issues lurking beneath the surface. The superintendent's proposal removes a lot of those issues and allows the City of Manchester to develop standards that rise well above the national average. The recent study that ranked New Hampshire in the top 10 world-wide in mathematics and language arts is a perfect example of what we, as a state and as a city, should be aiming for. If done properly, Manchester's ranking will rise even higher. We should be leaders in the educational arena, not followers.

3) The citizens of Manchester have chosen a tax cap and we should do everything we can to live within the limitations it defines, provided, however, that we do not allow such limitations to damage our educational system. If the Manchester School District is functioning in the most fiscally responsible manner and finds itself in the position of needing to request additional support, it is then appropriate to do so. With all this in mind, the school board should present a tax cap based budget with clear information about the level of services delivered under that budget. Supplemental to that proposed budget should be a detailed description of what additional funds are requested and what the educational impact of these funds would be. It is entirely possible for the aldermen to maintain the total city-wide budget within the tax cap, while allocating additional funds for the school district. Providing the Board of Mayor and Aldermen with transparent and concise information will help them determine the financial priorities of the City.

BernierLeo Bernier

Occupation: Retired

Relevant experience: I served the city of Manchester as the city clerk and prior to that I served the city as the welfare commissioner. Additionally, I have two children who went through the Manchester school system.

1) Our class sizes should be the school district's highest priority. I know of classrooms in the city where the number of students per class reaches 40. That is unacceptable.

2) The Common Core Standards are aligned with the NH College and Career Ready Standards, which is an initiative to make our students ready for life after high school. I support the Superintendent in her proposal if the Common Core is truly used as the basis for developing the Manchester Academic Standards. Our students will be competing against students from the 40 other states who have adopted the Common Core so if our Manchester Academic Standards exceed the expectations of the Common Core than we are serving our students well.

3) I believe we should propose one budget to demonstrate to the voters that we know what our schools' needs are and how to best support them.


DesrochersKatie Desrochers

Age: 42

Occupation: Legal Assistant

Relevant experience: I am a life-long resident of Manchester and have two children who attend Manchester Public Schools. I have also volunteered for numerous civic and church-related activities, including soccer league president, school volunteer, youth group leader and food pantry volunteer.

1) The challenges facing Manchester's public schools are numerous – overcrowded classrooms, understaffed schools, and decreases in state funding, to name a few. And while our schools are attempting to address these challenges, the New Hampshire Department of Education is implementing numerous new initiatives – the Common Core State Standards, revised Minimum Standards for School Approval, and requirements under the State's waiver to No Child Left Behind. These challenges and initiatives do not stand alone – they are all equally important and equally affect our public schools. It is necessary to label all of them as high priority, recognizing that they all have significant importance and impact on our schools.

2) I support both the adoption of the Common Core State Standards as well as Dr. Livingston's proposal to develop Manchester's own standards. I support the CCSS because they are designed to ensure high school graduates are prepared to enter advanced learning programs or enter the workforce while simultaneously providing clear and concise standards to ensure parents, teachers and students understand student expectations in core academic subjects.

At the same time, I support New Hampshire's strong tradition of local control, allowing local school boards the ability to develop their own curricular standards and expectations, provided those standards meet minimum state requirements. As such, I support any proposal that allows the Manchester School Committee and administration to develop and implement academic standards that exceed the CCSS, while still aligning those local standards with the college and career ready standards found in the CCSS.

3) No. The City Charter is clear in its requirements and process. The Charter requires the School Committee to prepare and submit its budget proposal. If the aldermen and mayor reject the School Committee's proposal, the Committee will submit a revised budget that does not exceed the net dollar amount established by the board of mayor and aldermen. I support following the process and outlined and required in the City Charter.

DolmanStephen Dolman

Age: 65

Occupation: Retired teacher

Relevant experience: Elementary school teacher at Henry Wilson School for 39 year;, Alderman Ward 5 for 6 years; School Board Ward 11 for 4 years; Charter Commission 1997-1998; Basketball Coach Hillside Boys & Girl, Wilson School, Varney School, and St. Anthony; chairman Athletic Committee; member of Curriculum & Instruction Committee; member Technology Committee

1) The district must be prepared in the event that Hooksett decides to send their students elsewhere. Whatever the plan is, closing of West High School should not be an option. The loss of the tuition funds and its impact on the school district makes this issue a high priority matter. We do not want to repeat the ill-preparedness we faced when Bedford students left.

2) No, because Common Core is a national standard based curriculum. Those responsibilities under the US. Constitution reside with the state. Academic standards which are developed for the demographic of children in the Manchester School District can not help but be more effective for the student population we serve if cultivated locally. . Curriculum development is not a one-size fit all situation. Rigor and comprehensive standards should be the goal of those trusted with this most important task; what we teach and how we teach should be a local decision.

3) The budget which is developed by the school district should include the funds necessary to educate our children at the highest level. We should not be playing politics with the school districts budget and our children's future.. Education is an investment in our children's future and must be funded at the level reflecting it's priority. It is our responsibility to provide the best education in the most cost effective way. After all who knows best the financial needs of the school district ,if not the administrators and teachers. The best possible solution is one where the school district is autonomous and answers directly to the taxpayers of Manchester.


DuffleyChristine Duffley

Age: 51

Occupation: Homemaker and Small Business Owner

Relevant experience: I have a variety of experiences both professionally and educationally. I have a BA in Social Work from the University of New Hampshire. My husband and I have been landlords for just about 25 years with a business specializing in masonry restoration. I have five children with five different learning styles with my youngest being blind and autistic. Over the last eight years I have been intricately involved in the educational process by both being an advocate and an active volunteer parent within the Manchester School District. My leadership includes non-profit boards and Manchester neighborhood revitalization efforts.

1) The development of Manchester's new Academic Standards; leading with excellence will require support from administration, teachers, parents and the business community. It is critical that we come together to reach this milestone.

2) Common Core standards come with many concerns about privacy, curriculum and books promoted through it and most importantly, the Smarter Balance Test. Developing our own "Manchester Academic Standards" invests everyone in a common goal that is developed and controlled locally. We can address our unique population, we can set higher standards and we can leave a legacy that will promote both college readiness and career preparedness. I fully support the development of the new standards, and whether I win or lose, I will stay committed to this historic effort.

3) I understand that the City Charter requires the BOSC to submit a tax cap budget to the Board of Mayor and Alderman. This is certainly the most responsible thing to do. However, if an addendum is warranted, I believe the BOSC would be acting responsibly, to propose an additional request to the aldermanic board.

Van HoutenConstance "Connie" Van Houten

Age: 64

Occupation: adjunct professor at Manchester Community College and instructor at English for New Americans

Relevant experience: Teacher in the Manchester School District for 41 years, now retired; experience and training in teaching of English (7-12+), special education and learning disabilities (K-12), education of the gifted and talented, English as a second language, adult education, and educational leadership; adjunct professor in local colleges; community and volunteer work

1) The district's highest priority should be to provide the quality of education that will best prepare our students for college and/or the jobs of today and tomorrow. Manchester's schools are good in many ways, but their educational challenges continue to evolve. The district's recently completed curriculum audit provides a road map which can help to guide the district forward. For instance, one important audit recommendation is to design and implement a management system for a consistent and high-quality curriculum across all schools and grades. Another recommendation addresses the need for coordinated system-wide professional development for teaching staff. Attention to such recommendations and utilization of the five-year strategic plan are key to addressing the challenges in our district and to providing the quality education that must be the district's priority.

2) I do support the superintendent's recent proposal for the district to develop its own standards, the Manchester Academic Standards. Superintendent Livingston's proposal is to use the Common Core State Standards as the floor upon which the Manchester standards will be built. The district's decision to develop its own standards will allow the district to take the best aspects of the Common Core State Standards and craft its own standards to meet the needs of Manchester schools and children. Since curriculum is built around standards, though, there are still unanswered questions. An important one involves assessment, which is mandated and may be tied to school funding. The district, however, has taken a decisive step on behalf of the students of Manchester with its choice to develop the Manchester Academic Standards.

3) The school board should propose one budget. That budget should reflect the most realistic estimate of the district's financial needs, based upon projected student enrollment, for the next school year. Minimally that budget should ensure that the Manchester school district will meet state standards for class sizes, that all classrooms will be staffed with qualified teachers, and that all students will have textbooks for all of their subjects. The budget should be crafted with quality education, as well as efficient spending, in mind.

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