'Manchester Proud' Launches School Improvement Plan

Sep 17, 2018

 

Educators Karen Ladd (L) and Debbie Rapson (R) kick off Manchester Proud's canvassing campaign in eastern Manchester.
Credit Sarah Gibson for NHPR

A new coalition in Manchester is launching a community planning process for the city's public schools.

The coalition - called Manchester Proud - is funded by local business leaders and has the support of the school board, school unions, the mayor, and many non-profits.

On Saturday, volunteers fanned out across the city, knocking on about 600 doors to collect input from residents about the city's schools.

Manchester's student enrollment numbers are in decline and school performance scores are some of the state's lowest.

Debbie Rapson, a former teacher at Memorial High School, says she loved teaching for the Manchester School District, but as she canvassed on Saturday, she encountered a perception that the city's schools were struggling.

Sarah Leboeuf and her partner just moved to Manchester from Boston and are expecting their first child.

They told Rapson the one downside of buying in Manchester were the low school ratings; if they don't improve, the family plans to relocate eventually to Bedford.

"With Manchester we were like: 'Maybe we'll stay here for four or five years until the baby goes to school, but the fact that there's some attention on this is good news for us, because I like living here," Leboeuf said. "It would be awesome if we could just get those [school] ratings up a little higher."

Manchester Proud coordinator Barry Brensinger says the coalition emerged partially in response to concerns like Lebouef's, which many business encounter when recruiting potential employees.

 

 

"We need for Manchester to have the reputation of: that's the place you want to go, to live, to raise a family, and have a great educational experience," he says.

 

Manchester Proud is planning a major push over the next year, including a canvassing campaign until mid-October. It plans to release a strategic plan next summer.