The Manchester Equity Review Team, a group tasked with improving equity in the city's public schools, is recommending the district increase racial diversity among staff and change how it disciplines students.
In the last decade, Manchester has struggled with a decline in state aid and major demographic shifts; the percentage of Latino students, English language learners (ELL's) and students on free and reduced lunch in Manchester have nearly doubled.
And the performance gap between students of color and white students is significant.
The Equity Review Team (ERT) began a process last year, funded by the Nellie Mae Foundation and in collaboration with Plymouth State University, to collect district data and insight from community members, families, and staff to identify the best ways to close this gap.
Among their preliminary recommendations is for the district to develop a “workforce diversity plan,” recruiting more staff members of color who can relate to the languages and cultures of students and their families.
In a report to the school board Tuesday night, the team also identified high rates of out-of-school suspension - about three times the state average. This rate is even higher for black and Latino students.
It found 100 percent of teachers surveyed reported a need for the district to develop alternative policies for discipline. However, only 18 percent of other participants (students, family members, and community partners) reported this need.
Some school board members expressed skepticism at the recommendations, which are non-binding. The ERT's final report is expected later this year.