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Top Manchester school officials no longer must live in city

MANCHESTER — The Board of School Committee voted Monday to drop the residency requirement for top administrators, despite Mayor Ted Gatsas’ strong support for the policy.

The board voted at its meeting to end the policy, which was enacted two years ago and required that any superintendent or assistant superintendent establish a home in the city within 180 days of signing an employment contract.

The requirement has proven difficult for Dave Ryan, the assistant superintendent hired in the summer who lives in Hooksett with his family. At a school board meeting a couple of months ago, the board agreed to grant Ryan a six-month extension to meet the contract provision.

Gatsas was not present at the meeting because he is recuperating from heart bypass surgery.

The board first voted by a wide margin to table a motion, made by board member John Avard, due to the absence of the mayor.

“I don’t see this as time-sensitive,” Avard said. “This has been a very special topic to Mayor Gatsas. He has fought hard for this.

Considering the current circumstances, I would like to see this held off.”
Gatsas has argued that moving to the city is an important signal of commitment on the part of the district’s highest-paid employees.
But school board member Erika Connors, the main proponent of the policy, said time was of the essence since the end of the school year was near.

She said she contacted Gatsas earlier in the day.

“He said the board already knows how I feel on the issue,” Connors said. “There wasn’t anything underhanded about this.”

Connors argued, and most of her school board colleagues agreed, that the residency requirement limited the pool of applicants for top positions.

“Right now we risk losing a very valuable employee to this district, whose kids go to district,” Connors said of Ryan.

But member Robyn Dunphy said it was wrong to allow any change in the residency policy to apply to Ryan. “The contract is signed. Nobody held a gun to anybody’s head.”

tsiefer@unionleader.com


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