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November 30. 2012 10:13PM

Candia reconsiders city high school agreement

CANDIA - The Candia School Board has taken the first step toward making it easier for town parents to pull their children from Manchester High School Central and send them to another high school.

A policy change - given a first round of approval this week - would remove the requirement that parents prove "educational hardship" to switch their children to a high school in another town.

The vote on changing the policy came Tuesday, the day after Candia School Board members attended a special meeting of the Manchester Board of School Committee to air concerns about overcrowding in the financially strapped Manchester high schools.

Manchester Mayor Ted Gatsas adjourned the meeting without allowing Candia parents to speak.

"We are so incredibly focused on education, when we went, we expected to have a good meeting with Manchester," said Candia School Board Vice Chairman Nicole LaFlamme. "Mayor Gatsas made it very clear by not being willing to listen to the parents his true feelings toward Candia."

LaFlamme said Gatsas' refusal to listen to parents led to discussions by the Candia board to make it easier for parents to send their children to high schools in other communities

"He had an opportunity to speak to our community members," LaFlamme said. "He had a great opportunity, a huge opportunity right there to make amends with the entire community. We gave him an opportunity at every turn, and he slammed the door."

Gatsas said that as chairman of what was technically a special meeting of the Manchester board, he had to follow established board rules.

"I'm sorry if she felt offended," Gatsas said. "I know they have their rules in Candia and we have our rules in Manchester, and the rules of the board are there is not public participation in a special meeting."

Gatsas said he is willing to listen to parents from Candia, whether it's one-on-one or in a public forum.

"I have no problem listening to anybody," Gatsas said. "They can call me on the phone, they can come to my office, they can come to our meetings."

The Manchester board schedules public discussion periods at its regular meetings.

Tuesday's vote was the first of two required for a change in Candia School Board policies. A second vote could be taken at the board's regular meeting next Thursday.

At the joint meeting with the Manchester board, Candia board members presented the city with two options: Make sure Manchester's high schools meet state standards, or release Candia from the contract.

About 40 Candia parents attended the Manchester session meeting, which town board had said was a chance for parents to "have their voices heard."

The Candia board intends to continue its talks with Manchester, and has asked the city's Board of School Committee for a second meeting this month.



Union Leader reporter Bill Smith contributed to this report.



bclogston@newstote.com

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