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Think big: Manchester schools need a shakeup

The Manchester school board has finally taken a tiny, overdue step towards redistricting the city’s schools.

The new feeder pattern for students moving from elementary to middle to high school will help keep kids together as they grow up.

But it will do nothing to ease overcrowding in Manchester’s overstuffed elementary schools, or make better use of the excess capacity in the city’s three high schools.

Changing demographics and the decision of neighboring towns to withdraw from tuition agreements have left a lot of space at Central, West, and Memorial. The school board should do more than shift lines on the map. It should think big.

Ward 4 school board member Leslie Want writes today that redistricting should aim to reduce class sizes at Northwest and Beech Street Elementary. She’s hoping a facilities audit will show how Manchester can better use the available buildings.

But the key ingredient is political will. Are school board members willing to consider big changes in order to improve Manchester schools?

Expand the STEAM Ahead program at West into a magnet school. Turn Central into a charter school incubator where educational experiments can share the infrastructure of an existing school. Give parents choice within the school district.

Our public school system is stuck in the 19th century, and overdue for a fundamental transformation.

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