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March 30. 2014 10:50PM

Jewett Street School parents fight back against kindergarten plan in Manchester

MANCHESTER — A group of city parents has formed a Facebook page opposing plans to turn the Jewett Street School into a central preschool facility.

Launched over the weekend and titled "Keep Jewett Elementary!," the Facebook group page had 120 members as of Sunday night. A second web page set up through www.gofundme.com to raise money for lawn and car signs, T-shirts, and information pamphlets, had received $80 in donations as of Sunday night, with $3,000 listed as the group's goal.

"It's a group of people looking to get the word out about what the city is trying to do," said James Buttrick of Manchester. "In talking to people this week, there are a lot out there who hadn't heard anything about the plan."

Last week, Superintendent Debra Livingston unveiled a proposal to convert the Southside Middle School into a site for students in kindergarten through 8th grade, while making the nearby Jewett Street School a central preschool facility. Jewett would accommodate each of the approximately 400 pre-kindergartners in the district, currently spread out across four separate schools.

The plan would not be enacted until fall 2015 at the earliest, to allow community members to weigh in.

Buttrick said parents of students in the Jewett Street School neighborhood have expressed frustration with the proposal since it was announced.
"My family, we moved into this neighborhood because of the school," said Buttrick, a Gabrielle Street resident. "We liked the idea of our son walking to the neighborhood school, and it's a good school. Once people hear about the plan, I haven't heard anyone say they think it's a good idea."
The Facebook page includes a message stating, "The School Board and Superintendent of the Manchester, NH school district have formulated a plan to take over our thriving elementary school and remove our kids K-5 from their environment. Imagine kicking 350+ kids ranging in age from 5-10 out of their school! Many of these children have a wide range of disabilities which require services; and a good deal of them do not respond well to change. Our school qualifies for no government funding, we make it work on our own. Our teachers and parents work in harmony for the greater good of our kids; our school is a family. While the School Board and Superintendent see a brick and mortar building, they have failed to see the soul of Jewett Elementary."

The 'Keep Jewett Elementary!' Facebook page can be found at https://www.facebook.com/groups/679944625397929/.

The donation page can be found at http://www.gofundme.com/7why5w.

pfeely@unionleader.com


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