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May 11. 2014 9:05PM

Manchester board to announce decision on Jewett Street school tonight

MANCHESTER — City school board members are expected to announce tonight that Jewett Street Elementary School will remain just that — an elementary school — for the foreseeable future.

The Manchester Board of School Committee will meet tonight at 7 p.m. in the Aldermanic Chambers on the third floor of City Hall.

Last month, city Superintendent of Schools Debra Livingston said opposition from parents was the major factor in her decision to drop a redistricting plan that would have taken elementary students out of Jewett and turned a nearby middle school into a program for students from kindergarten through grade 8. The plan called for Jewett Street Elementary to become a city-wide pre-school, and assigned students from kindergarten through grade 8 to the Southside Middle School.

On April 14, school board members voted to table a motion to maintain the Jewett Street school as a K-5 elementary school, eight ‘yeas’ to six ‘nays’ with Manchester Mayor Ted Gatsas abstaining.

Among school board members, votes in favor of tabling the motion were made by Sarah Ambrogi, Amy Bradley, Ted Rokas, Dave Wihby, Kathy Staub, Erika Connors, Katie Desrochers, Connie Van Houten. Votes against tabling it were cast by Debra Langton, Chris Stewart, Robyn Dunphy, Russ Terrio, Art Beaudry and John Avard.

Gatsas said Sunday he doesn’t expect any changes in use for the Jewett School to come out of tonight’s session.

“I expect it to remain exactly what it is, an elementary school,” said Gatsas. “I think we have heard the parents there loud and clear as far as what they want to see happen. The item was tabled, so procedurally it will be taken off tonight, but I don’t expect anything to come of it.”

Last month, Livingston said her decision came after meetings with parents from the Jewett and Southside schools upset with proposed changes in their neighborhood.

“I am a listener and an analyzer and there came a point where I just could not see a way that we can make this work,” Livingston said. “It’s time to say thank you for your comments and move forward.”

Jewett Street parents had organized in opposition, forming a Save the Jewett Facebook group and presenting their case to Livingston and other administrators.

Livingston said the input from parents was the primary factor in her decision.

“They made very good points as to why they wanted to keep their community school and were not interested in the K-8 concept,” Livingston said.

pfeely@unionleader.com


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