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February 10. 2013 10:16PM

Course list for Manchester high schools a concern for school board

MANCHESTER - The Board of School Committee is scheduled to once again take up the issue of next fall's high school program of studies tonight, an issue that generated some heat between board members last month.

Tonight's board meeting is scheduled to get underway at 7 p.m. in City Hall.

The published agenda for the session shows a potential discussion about the school district's fiscal year 2014, which was tabled during a Jan. 14 board meeting. The item hasn't been brought forth since, and Mayor Ted Gatsas doesn't expect any numbers to be presented tonight.

"If they are, I haven't heard a peep about it," said Gatsas. "I don't expect to see any."

Gatsas said he is also not prepared to unveil any of his own budget proposals tonight.

Last month, the school board voted to return to committee the proposed high school program of studies list for the 2013-2014 school year. The district's Curriculum and Instruction Committee had previously approved the program, which consists of a full listing of all courses offered at the city's three high schools. The full Board of School Committee rejected the list, with a majority of members saying it included specialized courses being offered at only one of the three schools, a practice the board was looking to discourage.

"The idea was to have courses that students at all three (high schools) can participate in," board member Art Beaudry said at the time. "There are courses here where other students have no chance of taking the course at the other school."

The majority of courses that appear on the new list are core subjects taught at all three high schools. But there are still several unique courses taught at only one of the three schools. The majority of school board members have backed efforts to cut back on the number of these singular courses. During last month's discussion, the number of listed courses being offered at only one of the three schools was 22. It has been reduced to 12.

According to a list of courses provided prior to tonight's session, eight of these specialized courses are offered at West High School: Advanced Theatre, Intro to Theatre, Theatre Performance, Theatre Production, and Naval Science 1, 2, 3, and 4. Manchester Memorial offers American Sign Language 1, 2, 3, and 4. Based on the new list of program studies, there are no specialized courses being proposed at Central High School.

pfeely@unionleader.com

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