School district audit report lands with a thud
Then it was time for the board to take its medicine.
And Birmingham singled out the school board itself as part of the problem. Sometimes it takes an outsider to point out the things that can go unnoticed. A 15-member school board is exceptionally large, she noted, and to have elections every two years? "I think that presents a challenge to stability," Birmingham said.
The report can be downloaded from the district's website, mansd.org.
Mayor Ted Gatsas also didn't seem too pleased with Birmingham's presentation. The last time a scathing audit came down, last spring from the state Department of Education, Gatsas protested its findings, and it ended up being largely retracted.
"The common thread, that we don't do the same things everywhere, that every school is a district within a district, we could've saved a lot of money on this audit if we listened to him," he said.
Still, Gatsas found something to like in the report. He noted that it did not dwell on funding problems. "It's not about the level of spending. It's about what we're spending on and how to do it better," he said.
Meanwhile, Ward 12 Alderman and mayoral candidate Patrick Arnold quickly embraced the audit - and used it as a cudgel against the mayor.
"The audit validates what most of us in the city already know about the state of the Manchester School District - Mayor Gatsas' failed leadership has left our school system in desperate need of a new vision for success," Arnold said in a statement Thursday.
With all the talk about the stalled negotiations with the teachers union, it's easy to overlook the talks underway with the city unions representing police support personnel and Water Works employees. And we probably wouldn't have heard much about the talks - the unions together represent fewer than 200 people - were it not for Mike Roche, the vocal union president of the Steelworkers local representing the Water Works employees.
No doubt, Roche wouldn't be so upset were it not for the raw deal he feels is being offered: a fourfold increase in health insurance premiums - from 5 to 20 percent - with just a half-percent raise. At least the paraprofessionals and other district employees are being offered tax cap-based raises of 2.17 percent, Roche said.
Water Works is technically an independent entity, with its own overseeing commission, on which the mayor sits.
The main event at Tuesday's meeting will likely by the controversial ambulance contract. But there will probably be plenty of other early fireworks, seeing as how it will be the only meeting in the month. At least that's been the custom.
It being the end of the school year, much of Monday's school board meeting was taken up by the recognition of students and presentations. Of course, one employee is having his own graduation of sorts. It was Brennan's last full board meeting.
Ted Siefer may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @tbsreporter.
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