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Another View -- Barry Brensinger, Patricia Lynott, and Arthur Sullivan: Join us in making Manchester Proud

May 13. 2018 7:22PM

Manchester's public schools are the heartbeat of our city and today, our city is at a vital crossroads. We have nearly 14,000 students enrolled in our public schools. Their education positions them to become productive members of our community. That education is also a signal to everyone in our city, and everyone thinking about calling Manchester home, of the value we place on educating our children. It is a signal about the future we want for our city and for ourselves.

Whether you are a retiree, a parent of school-aged children, a university student, a middle schooler, or a single adult, the health of Manchester’s public schools has direct bearing on your quality of life.

Employers in Manchester know all too well that in the absence of a thriving, community-supported public school system, it is a challenge to recruit and retain employees. Young families want the best for their children. Given the opportunity, they’ll choose a home based on the vitality of the local schools.

Homeowners feel the importance of our schools, too. Property values are inextricably linked to the quality of local public schools. Neighbors understand the vital role our schools play in the community. Students who are supported by their families, schools, and community, who are academically challenged and offered rich opportunities to build their knowledge, are less likely to drop out of school, less likely to experience substance use disorders, and less likely to commit crimes in our neighborhoods.

All of us can sense the importance of our schools when we look for work, eat out downtown, or go to a game at the SNHU Arena. The economic vitality needed for a high quality of life in Manchester hinges on the ability of our public schools to support student success and therefore, continually attract new families, new employers, and new energies to our city.

Bigger picture, a great education opens up meaningful life choices — for post-secondary degrees, professional certifications, and high paying jobs with potential for professional growth. A great education positions students to live healthier, happier, longer lives — that means, better paying jobs, better health outcomes, and higher productivity

We are seeing vital shifts in our city. The Millyard is a tech hub, with businesses like ARMI and PillPack rekindling our city’s inventive spirit. Manchester is teeming with impactful, well-run nonprofits. Our growing diversity brings a wealth of talent and cultural perspectives. We are surrounded by exceptional colleges and universities. Schools like Parker-Varney Elementary are leading the nation in reimagining public education, creating opportunities for students to challenge themselves and thrive across grade levels.

This takes us back to that crossroads we believe Manchester has reached. If we do not strive together to ensure our schools are truly delivering for every student in every neighborhood, we will miss an extraordinary opportunity to build on our city’s greatest assets.

This drive to help ensure that our students have champions for their success is what brought us together. Just about a year ago, we began meeting as an ad hoc group from businesses and organizations across our city. We started by discussing how we could better support Manchester’s students.

We all agreed that for our city to succeed, we must first ensure the success of all our students. Then, we learned that the Manchester School District needs a new strategic plan. The current plan expires next month.

We decided to take the seriousness of our commitment to our students and city, and offer to fully-fund a community-driven effort for the district to create a new five-year strategic plan.

In making this offer, we are committing to launching a year-long process that gives voice to every member of the Manchester community, with opportunities to fully participate in the visioning of a plan for our school district. We are also committing to ensuring that the resulting vision is inclusive, equitable, aspirational, and achievable.

Today, we are asking you as members of this community to join us in stepping up to support our students. We are asking you to offer your voice in this community-driven initiative.

Participate in town halls and workshops. Speak up at parent nights. Host your own forums and meetings, gathering input from your friends, neighbors, and colleagues. Let’s come together and develop a shared vision for our schools, one that sets our students and city, on a course to reach our fullest potential.

We are Manchester Proud, and we are asking you to be Manchester Proud, too.

Barry Brensinger, Patricia Lynott, and Arthur Sullivan are cofounders of Manchester Proud.

Education Social issues Local and County Government Guest Commentary Manchester

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