The Manchester Board of School Committee voted unanimously to endorse a proposal from Manchester Proud, a coalition of individuals, local businesses, and education leaders, to privately support a “community-centric” strategic planning effort for the city’s schools.
“The real work of Manchester Proud will be undertaken by work groups,” said Barry Brensinger, design principal at Manchester-based Lavallee Brensinger Architects and one of the founding members of Manchester Proud.
“We want to bring in parents, students, educators, and community-members to help shape a collaborative, strategic planning process for the district. We are here to propose the undertaking of an open, inclusive planning process. Our presentation includes no expected outcomes.”
On Monday, Brensinger was joined by fellow Manchester Proud co-founders Patricia Lynott, campus president of Southern New Hampshire University, and local developer Arthur Sullivan to pitch the group’s first major initiative — fully funding an effort by the district to create a new five-year strategic plan.
Brensinger points out the school district’s current strategic plan expires at the end of this school year. Manchester Proud proposes funding three aspects of the strategic planning effort:
• Project management over the planning effort;
• Strategic consulting; and,
• “Intensive community engagement.”
“Manchester Proud has no affiliations, political or otherwise,” said Lynott. “Our sole agenda is to build a stronger Manchester through our public schools.”
Manchester Proud estimates the planning effort will take approximately 12 to 14 months; the plan will then be presented to the school board in 2019.
Mike Skelton, president and CEO of the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce, said the organizing committee of Manchester Proud met with the chamber’s board of directors recently.
“We were thoroughly impressed and inspired by the presentation by some amazing members of the community,” said Skelton. “We are very excited by the opportunity they are bringing forward to you and this committee.”
Skelton said the chamber’s board voted unanimously to endorse Manchester Proud’s mission.
Manchester Police Chief Nick Willard said his department fully supports Manchester Proud.
“I was with Mike Skelton when the presentation was given, and I immediately asked for a form to sign on to this effort,” said Willard.
“Thank you so much for all you have done,” said Mayor Joyce Craig. “I’m thrilled to have you all here, and for all the support you have here.”
“What was presented here tonight, it’s great to see not only businesses involved, but also families involved in this effort,” Ward 9 board member Art Beaudry said.
“Thank you to each one of you,” said Manchester Superintendent of Schools Dr. Bolgen Vargas. “I am so proud of Manchester and the initiative you are about to take on. There is no doubt in my mind we are going to succeed, and you have 100 percent support of the district.”
Read more about Manchester Proud, including the group’s call to action for Manchester residents and businesses, here.