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Beaudry the Brave: Manchester takes on redistricting

December 17. 2017 1:19AM

Manchester school board member Arthur Beaudry 

School board member Arthur Beaudry displayed more courage than caution last week when he touched the third rail of Manchester politics.

Beaudry brought up the possibility of closing one of the city's high schools.

Changing demographics, and the decision of neighboring towns to send their students elsewhere, has left the Queen City with crowded elementary schools and half-empty high schools.

"I just don't know how we can justify having so much open space in our high schools, just because we 'bleed green' or don't want to touch a high school on the West Side," Beaudry said on Monday.

The school superintendent, Dr. Bolgen Vargas, last year prompted the board to streamline the feeder pattern for city schools, and now wants the board to take on "phase 2" of redistricting.

The board expects to receive the results of a districtwide facilities study in January, which will show how much unused classroom space is available in each school.

Closing Central or West would obviously upset a lot of people, but the city owes its allegiance to the future, not the past. It might not be necessary to close a high school, but the board must come up with a way to better use all available facilities to ease the space crunch in the lower grades.

Closing a high school has to be part of that discussion, and Beaudry was right to remind his colleagues that this option is on the table.

Manchester's school board has been punting on redistricting city schools for a decade.

It should do its job in 2018, and finally get school redistricting done.

High schools Local and County Government Editorial Manchester

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