MANCHESTER — Members of a new Community Planning Group have begun work on a new strategic plan for the Manchester School District.
Manchester Proud — a citizens’ coalition committed to uniting the Queen City behind an aspirational vision for its school system — has selected members for its Community Planning Group to begin exploring, shaping and ultimately developing a plan for the future of the city’s public schools.
In February, Manchester Proud conducted a city-wide application process, seeking volunteers to join its new Community Planning Group. This group is meant to ensure that the development of the Manchester School District’s new strategic plan is driven by the community .
According to group organizers, 90 applications were received and reviewed by an independent Selection Committee tasked with narrowing the group down to 28 people to represent Manchester’s many constituencies, from parents and students to educators and community leaders.
The 28 members of the Community Planning Group are:
Parents: James O’Connell, Anthony Poore, Michael Porter and Trinidad Tellez
Educators: Amanda Egan, Charles Chretien, Abigail Gemme, Norma Gonzalez, Liz Kirwan and Katie Lebranche
Students: Christina Bui and Kimiya Parker-Hill
Community members: Michael Delaney, Dianne Fitzpatrick, Rev. Eric Jackson, Nicole Lora, Deo Mwano, Mike Skelton and Meredith Young
School district office: Joede Brown, Donna K. Crook and Jennifer Gillis
School district administrators: Lizabeth MacDonald and Forrest Ransdell
Manchester Proud council: Amy Allen, Patricia Lynott and Will Kanteres
City of Manchester: Public Health Director Anna Thomas
“I was truly impressed with the representation from all areas of the community willing to work on a long-range plan that will identify and expand Manchester School District’s true potential,” said Lizabeth MacDonald, principal at Weston Elementary School. “This group is a meld of expertise, perspectives, experiences and commitment to an all inclusive goal — our children and their education.”
Community Planning Group members have spent the past two months working with 2Revolutions, Manchester Proud’s educational planning partner, to begin the design of the school district’s new strategic plan. Members will share the plan throughout the city this summer and solicit feedback from the community.
“It was encouraging and inspiring to see people come together from different backgrounds and be represented,” said Manchester entrepreneur and community leader, Deo Mwano. “It will take a village to improve the current structure of Manchester School District. I am excited to dive deeper with the group to come up with sustainable solutions that will better the learning of our students in Manchester and uplift our education system.”
Organizers say the strategic plan will reflect both the concerns and aspirations that Manchester Proud members heard from the community during an extensive community engagement process that launched in August 2018.
Those efforts included canvassing more than 2,000 homes in Manchester’s 12 wards, collecting more than 1,100 community surveys, hosting town hall events, and facilitating more than 100 listening sessions with schools and community organizations throughout Manchester.
Manchester Proud expects to present the plan to the Board of School Committee for approval before the end of the year.