After Manchester School District leaders floated the idea of major changes to schools this spring, district officials are hosting a series of forums this month to get input from city residents.

In light of a declining student population and aging buildings that require costly maintenance, Superintendent John Goldhardt has pitched big changes to Queen City schools.

Goldhardt has proposed consolidating Manchester’s three high schools into one building, developing magnet schools such as an arts high school, expanding the Manchester School of Technology, continuing to move fifth-graders into middle schools and renovations of the city’s elementary schools as well as programs like language immersion for younger students.

At the forums, district officials say they want to hear ideas from the community — and not just school families.

“Everyone is welcome to join us for these forums, not just those who work in our schools or have school-aged children,” said Assistant Superintendent Jenn Gillis, who is running the forums. “What we do with our schools impacts all of us, and we want to make sure everyone has a say.”

Schools are by far the largest piece of the city budget, so the cost of maintenance or new buildings will be borne by all residents — and the impact of the changes or delayed maintenance will be felt citywide.

The city has put off difficult decisions about the schools for years, Goldhardt said earlier this year, as suburban students began attending other high schools, and maintenance backlogs added up year after year.

“What we’re left with are aging buildings that are costly to operate and are not suitable as a modern educational facility,” Goldhardt wrote in May of this year in a letter to the city school board. “This hurts not just our students and staff, but our community at large, because our public schools are not the draw that they could be, and should be.”

More details about the proposal are available at bit.ly/MSDfacilities.

The school district has scheduled four forums over the next two weeks.

Tuesday, Oct. 19 at 9:30 a.m. – Downtown Manchester YMCA, Stark Street entrance

Tuesday, Oct. 19 at 6:30 p.m. – Parker-Varney Elementary School

Thursday, Oct. 21 at 6:30 p.m. – McDonough Elementary School

Wednesday, Oct. 27 at 6:30 p.m. – Highland-Goffe’s Falls Elementary School

Friday, November 26, 2021
Thursday, November 25, 2021
Tuesday, November 23, 2021
Monday, November 22, 2021