Elf, Santa address Manchester school officials on overcrowding
MANCHESTER - Parents again lined up to criticize some of the mayor's recent actions as chairman of the school board. His critics on Monday included a man in the guise of an elf accompanied by Santa Claus.
The elf was John Lyscars, a Hooksett parent and activist who has spoken out against conditions in Manchester high schools that have prompted the town's school board to find the city in breach of its contract to send its high school students to district schools.
"The overcrowding at Central is serious and could cost you your accreditation. Santa and I have a proposal to solve many of your problems," Lyscars told the board during the public comment period before the Board of School Committee meeting Monday, sitting beside a man dressed as Santa. "Santa and I are full of hope that you will truly bestow gifts on the children of Manchester, Hooksett and Candia."
Lyscars distributed a seven-point plan to the school board. He said he did not want to release it to the media until the board members had a chance to review it.
Mayor Ted Gatsas did not appear to be amused by Lyscars' presentation.
Lyscars addressed the board after other parents and teachers spoke for more than an hour. They raised similar concerns about keeping Hooksett and Candia from pulling their kids from the district, and they urged the board to ask a Southern New Hampshire University dean to continue to assist in the board's strategic planning process.
Dean invited back
SNHU School of Education Dean Mark McQuillan had indicated that he would no longer participate after Gatsas called on him to answer for comments he made suggesting city schools were underfunded.
The first action of the school board when its official meeting began was to unanimously pass a motion to ask McQuillan to return. The action followed a similar motion by the aldermen last week.
Board member Kathy Staub, who has been leading the strategic planning process, said that McQuillan told her he would be willing to come back.
"But he wold like to know that this board also supports what we're doing and understands we need to have space for differences of opinion," she said.
Gatsas said he had no problem personally with McQuillan, and he noted that he had worked with him long before the issue with the planning committee arose.
"All I was asking for was for him to come forward. He could've called me. I don't have a problem with Mr. McQuillan stepping up and helping this district," Gatsas said.
In other business Monday, the school board voted to renew the contracts of its three top administrators.
The vote came after considerable debate over a motion from board member Art Beaudry to make Assistant Superintendents Karen Burkush and Michael Tursi unclassified employees, until a new superintendent is hired.
The board voted to renew the contract for Business Administrator Karen DeFrancis without debate.
Superintendent Thomas Brennan, who is stepping down at the end of this school year, recommended the contracts for all three be renewed, and he recommended a 2.5 percent cost-of-living raise.
Citing the economy, the administrators declined to accept the raises, unless they are part of the contract negotiated with school principals.
The board voted 7-4 to renew Burkush's contract, and 6-4 to renew Tursi's.
Board members Christopher Stewart, Debra Gagnon Langton, John Avard and Beaudry voted no in both cases.
Gatsas joined board members Dave Gelinas, Sarah Ambrogi, Roy Shoults, Donna Soucy, Erika Connors and Kathy Staub in voting to renew Burkush's contract. The same members voted to renew Tursi's contract, with the exception of Gatsas, who abstained, along with Ted Rokas, who abstained in both votes.
Burkush is paid more than $111,000, while Tursi and DeFrancis are both paid about $105,000.
The new contracts would start in the fall of 2013.
$40,000 for audit
In other action, the board voted to spend $40,000 on a contract for a company to perform an audit of the schools over the spring. A total of $35,000 would be reallocated from the athletics trust fund, leaving a $5,000 balance. Another $5,000 would come from a special fund created through voluntary donations that residents sent in along with their tax bills.
The vote was 7-5, with board members Stewart, Shoults, Soucy, Gelinas and Gatsas voting no, and Ambrogi, Avard, Beaudry, Connors, Langton, Rokas and Staub voting yes.
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JOHN ALEXION said:
Dare I ask, but was Teddy dressed as the......Grinch? In the spirit of things maybe the board ought to dress up as court jesters and administration could dress up as clowns and then th circus' kangaroo court would be in session.
December 11, 2012 3:37 am
Jorge Arvanitis said:
Gatsas said he had no problem personally with McQuillan---Um Teddy, that not the way it appeared, You ranted and raved... and now that your bully tirade has somewhat backfired, it looks like you're doing a little back peddling... Oh, November 2013 cant come soon enough...
December 11, 2012 5:25 am
Tammy Simmons said:
I wonder how the people who donated funds feel about those funds being used to pay for an audit? What are we auditing and why does it cost $40k?
December 11, 2012 8:26 am
Richard L. Fortin said:
I see the "Cry Babies" and weepers from the Citizens for Manchester Schools are back with their childish antics and this time they included Santa Clause. The poor old man has been put into a cry-in session by a bunch of big spenders. One wonders who gave them that silly idea? Could it be their masters from the Goon Squad of the MEA? If the City Boards allow this kind of silliness then they should allow The Ole Lamplighter Howard McCarthy to serenade us singing to his boom box. Frankly I would prefer Howard to hearing the moans and groans of a minority of Manchester citizens who want to spend the city broke. Given the questionable behavior of Ald. Joyce Craig one wonders if she did not conspire with them for this award losing theatrics. I still would like to know where all these cry-babies were at the first public meeting of the Charter Revision commission.
December 11, 2012 8:35 am
Howie Howe said:
Is the firm being hired impartial, or are they being hired because they are fully expected (or known) to support claims of underfunding, rather than determine what is really needed and how taxpayer money is currently spent? And just what will they be auditing for the money? I would hope it would include a determination if we have the right mix of teachers by subject, requirement, and demand. I personally believe we have way too many teachers in non-essential elective subjects on the payroll, and not enough in essential subjects causing overcrowding.
December 11, 2012 9:43 am
susan donahue said:
I do not understand how the can give raise to the Assistant Superintendents of school, but they can not do anything about the over crowding in the school. Why not take that money and give the education to the kids that are going to school. Alot of people are not getting pay increases because of the way the jobs are so few and far between. There is alot of people taking job that don't pay much. Just to pay there bills and put food and there tables. These big shots that can even figure out how give our chrildern room to sit in our school. Kid have the right to learn.
December 11, 2012 9:43 am
BARBARA SMITH-DELAHUNT said:
I was disappointed that the vote to renew the contracts of Tursi and Burkesh passed last night. They should be employees at will until the new Superintendent gets here. My question is this -- why wasn't the status of Ms. Burkesh's Doctorate Program addressed? Wasn't she suppose to have obtained this long before now? Interesting thought... Ms. DeFrancis should have her contract as she is a true asset to this district! I certainly wouldn't want to see her leave us! Thank you for your hard work Ms. DeFrancis!My second question and concern: the funds sent in by parents for the schools certainly were not donated for the purpose of an AUDIT! They were sent in to benefit the children! Textbooks, technology, classroom supplies? I'm glad I didn't send in my money and I do hope that these parents speak out loud and clear! I'm sure the donation of funds will cease soon, seeing that the money is not being used as intended!To the Hooksett Santa and Elf --- great presentation! I am anxious for you to release the information contained in the red and green gifts! If I was a Hooksett resident, I would certainly investigate any and all offers to educate your children from other districts.A concerned Manchester Taxpayer!
December 11, 2012 10:07 am
Jorge Arvanitis said:
The city pays those city department individuals who opt out of taking the city provided health insurance $4000 ANNUALLY!!!. For example if I was a cop and my wife worked for another city dept. or private industry, and I took insurance through my wife, I would receive $4000 ANNUALLY. Think about all the money that would be saved if that PERK vanished! This does not work for ALL city workers. For example if I was a teacher and my wife was a teacher we would receive nothing. If that PERK vaporizes, think of the money that could be put to other uses!!!!
December 11, 2012 11:05 am
Fred Norris said:
The Elf does not represent Hooksett. The Elf is under the illusion that he has some sort of power or mandate to represent "the children". The Elf is a busybody who likes to ram his ridiculous ideas down people's throats. The Elf is really annoying and should stop making a fool of himself.
December 11, 2012 1:15 pm
Jennifer Leger said:
It is very disheartening as a Hooksett resident to see all this name calling during a time when much work is needed to be done. Mr. Lyscars you clearly advocate over & over that you are for "all children". You are missing the most simplest of lessons..children learn from adults. Set a good example, do the research needed to come up with a solution, be a positive role model for the children that you protest to care so much about. This is a time for the town to come together to work out the best possible solutions for our high school childrens education NOT verbal personal assaults. I am as you refer to "vocal minority" and I am proud of how I conduct myself. I am working towards a solution and in doing so, keeping in mind the example I am setting for my own children.. Hooksett is a great community, with a kick **** superintendent and educated school board beside him..assist them in this difficult journey instead of causing more problems & "mucking up the waters"
December 11, 2012 4:18 pm
JOHN LYSCARS said:
Jennifer Ledger, one of the leaders of the "vocal minority" in Hooksett, I think we can agree to come to some common ground here. There IS much work needed to be done. Simply go to the H.E.L.P. Facebook page, under the "events" section, and see the latest I have been working on.....oh, that's right, you are one of the disgruntled ones that uses terms like "data driven" however when someone else provides data, you figure out ways to trivialize or discount it, and then you quit, instead of sticking around and debating issues and proving your claims......if YOU however produce a small piece of data, the world should stop and bow down and give you praise! No thanks Jennifer, I don't buy it. There are folks that don't quit, and use lame excuses and blame things on others. There are folks that have stuck to H.E.L.P. the children of Hooksett who completely disagree with me, but they don't give up voicing their opinions, and providing their side of the story......debate, point, counterpoint and compromise.....I respect those people very much. I also learn from others, and others learn from me. In the end, we will all be neighbors.....some I will respect, and some I won't, and some who will respect me, and some who won't.....that's life. So be proud of quitting, and always know that you are welcome back at any time. By the way.....to set an example for my child, I show him what democracy looks like, sounds like and feels like.......I don't just talk and complain about it........and **** is actually spelled ***.........
December 12, 2012 12:16 am
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