MANCHESTER — The results of a state Department of Education audit of four city schools will be released at Monday’s Board of School Committee meeting, Superintendent Thomas Brennan said.
While Brennan declined to provide details of the report, Ben Dick, president of the Manchester Education Association, the union representing city teachers, said he viewed a cover letter that indicated that the audit was critical of the district.
Brennan said Saturday that the 40-page report was the result of audits done on Memorial High School, South Side Middle School, Jewett Elementary and Highland-Goffe’s Falls Elementary.
Brennan said he was still going through the audit report on Saturday and couldn’t share its results until providing them to the school board.
“Not right now. I’m only halfway through it,” he said when asked whether he could release the report.
“It’s multiple rules and multiple pages,” he said. “I’ve got to give it to (the school board) first.”
Dick said he hadn’t seen the full report, but read its cover letter.
“The cover letter seems to drive home the point that the city of Manchester is not providing an adequate education for its students,” Dick said. “When I say that, I mean that the city is not providing the necessary tools or staffing for students. The staff is not the issue. It’s the lack of staff and the lack of resources that are leading to our problems.”
Brennan could not be reached later Saturday to respond to Dick’s comments.
The school district recently laid off 161 employees, including nearly 140 teachers. The city asked the union for increased concessions on health care costs to close a $12 million budget gap and prevent layoffs. The union rejected the offer by a 3-to-1 ratio, and the principals’ union followed suit.
Brennan said the examinations are performed to see whether schools meet minimum guidelines established by the state to be approved as a public school. The 62 pages of guidelines, which can be found on the state Department of Education website at education.nh.gov/legislation/documents/ed306.pdf, have minimum standards for everything from how schools organize middle and high schools, to food served in cafeterias and class sizes. They also provide policy standards for such things as bullying, emergency care and discipline.
“It’s an audit, basically, on where the schools stand on the school-approval standards,” he said.
The rules also say school districts have to establish an accountability system “to collect data needed for evaluation of the district’s compliance with state and federal laws on school accountability.”
According to the rules, schools that meet the standards are approved for five years. Those that do not meet standards can be designated as conditionally approved or unapproved. If a school is deemed unapproved, the school’s approval can be revoked, though the rules aren’t clear as to what that would actually mean for a school.
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Tim Buckland may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.