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Manchester Proud plan gets two thumbs up from school board

New Hampshire Union Leader

May 14. 2018 9:12PM

MANCHESTER — School board members voted Monday to enter into a partnership with a new civic group promising to provide the resources necessary for the Manchester school district to launch a new “community-centric strategic planning effort.”

The group, Manchester Proud, is a new “citizens’ coalition” committed to a vision for city schools where students, families and the community feel “supported, engaged, and proud to make Manchester their home.”

“The real work of Manchester Proud will be undertaken by work groups,” said Barry Brensinger, design principal at Manchester-based Lavallee Brensinger Architects and one of the founding members of Manchester Proud.

“We want to bring in parents, students, educators, and community-members to help shape a collaborative, strategic planning process for the district. We are here to propose the undertaking of an open, inclusive planning process. Our presentation includes no expected outcomes.”

On Monday, Brensinger was joined by fellow Manchester Proud co-founders Patricia Lynott, campus president of Southern New Hampshire University, and local developer Arthur Sullivan to pitch the group’s first major initiative — fully funding an effort by the district to create a new five-year strategic plan.

Brensinger points out the school district’s current strategic plan expires at the end of this school year. His group proposes funding three aspects of the school district’s strategic planning team as it draws up a new plan:

• Project management over the planning effort;

• Strategic consulting;

• “Intensive community engagement.”

“Manchester Proud has no affiliations, political or otherwise,” said Lynott. “Our sole agenda is to build a stronger Manchester through our public schools.”

The selection process for the planning team would be conducted before the end of June, with the plan developed between July and March 2019; it would be presented to the school board in April 2019.

If approved, the plan would be rolled out across the district between April and June 2019.

Mike Skelton, president and CEO of the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce, said the organizing committee of Manchester Proud met with the chamber’s board of directors recently.

“We were thoroughly impressed and inspired by the presentation by some amazing members of the community,” said Skelton. “We are very excited by the opportunity they are bringing forward to you and this committee.”

Skelton said the chamber’s board voted unanimously to endorse Manchester Proud’s mission.

Manchester Police Chief Nick Willard said his department fully supports Manchester Proud.

“I was with Mike Skelton when the presentation was given, and I immediately asked for a form to sign on to this effort,” said Willard.

“Thank you so much for all you have done,” said Mayor Joyce Craig. “I’m thrilled to have you all here, and for all the support you have here.”

“What was presented here tonight, it’s great to see not only businesses involved, but also families involved in this effort,” Ward 9 board member Art Beaudry said.

“Thank you to each one of you,” said Manchester Superintendent of Schools Dr. Bolgen Vargas. “I am so proud of Manchester and the initiative you are about to take on. There is no doubt in my mind we are going to succeed, and you have 100 percent support of the district.”

Beaudry made a motion to have the school district form a partnership with Manchester Proud to develop a new strategic plan. The motion passed unanimously.

“We look forward to our partnership,” said Brensinger.

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The Manchester Proud presentation to the school board can be viewed below:

Business Education Local and County Government Manchester

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