City classroom woes: Now what to do?
In what ought to have been no surprise whatsoever, the City of Manchester was told that it cannot use $350,000 in bonded money to hire new teachers. The question is: now what?
The school board wanted to use money that was borrowed to pay for parking improvements at school district headquarters to hire about a dozen new teachers. But state law says such bonded money cannot pay for operational expenses. Forget for a moment that the school board voted for an illegal funding scheme. The city has some classes with more than 40 students in them. What is the district to do that will bring class sizes to more manageable levels?
In the past, the city has relied on one-time money such as cash pulled from special reserve funds. This year the district has already done that and is still short. The most obvious - and best - option is to reopen the teacher contract. Alas, the Manchester Education Association is adamant that it will not do that.
Parents and taxpayers might expect that the city's teachers, of all people, would recognize the urgency of the problem. They might also expect that teachers would be willing to bring their health insurance contributions closer to - but still well below - the private sector average if it meant hiring more teachers and being able to better educate the district's children. Amazingly, such expectations are incorrect.