Last week’s presentation to aldermen on the proposed fiscal year 2020 school budget by now-former superintendent of schools Dr. Bolgen Vargas produced little in the way of new financial details, but plenty of fireworks.

The hot issue? The lack of a new contract with city teachers.

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School board Vice Chairman Art Beaudry told aldermen the schools are seeking $2.3 million above Mayor Joyce Craig’s proposed budget of $173.7 million.

“The $2.3 million truly is needed if we want to get contract negotiations settled,” said Beaudry, who went on to remind aldermen that a year ago the school district received $750,000 less than the $2 million Vargas requested over and above the tax cap — resulting in a lack of available funds for new contracts.

Those comments drew the ire of Ward 10 Alderman Bill Barry.

“Last year, Dr. Vargas asked for $2 million in additional funds over the tax cap,” said Barry. “The aldermen voted to give him $1.25 million because we needed to keep some money aside for the city side, because the city doesn’t stop running. We were highly criticized by Mr. Beaudry, saying we screwed the school department out of $750,000, that we didn’t (provide) the whole $2 million. That’s not fair to us. There’s no way the $750,000 would have been used to settle the contracts.”

Barry said it was unfair for school board members to say that, because they received $750,000 below asking price, contract talks are now at a “stalemate.”

“That’s not our fault,” said Barry. “We were never asked — I’ll speak for myself — I was never asked to put additional money into the school budget for contract negotiations. That’s totally unfair. I support the schools, and I’ll continue to support the schools, but don’t blame us for not giving you enough money in addition to what you asked for. Don’t be critical and blame us for not supporting the contracts.”

“I’m sorry you took offense to the comments,” said Beaudry. “The $750,000 was explained in Dr. Vargas’ budget, that was going to reduce class sizes even more and be used for redistricting, so that hurt us. What we did say last year, we put a footnote in the budget saying that there is no money in this budget for contracts. We just assumed that, and we probably shouldn’t have, that you would understand that and give us additional money for contracts.”

“I’m not disputing that we didn’t give the $750,000, and it may have hurt,” said Barry. “You guys have been saying we screwed you out of $750,000. We also have to take care of the city side.”

“If we don’t receive the $2.3 million over the mayor’s budget, then we’re going to be in the same dilemma that we were last year that we have no contracts to go to the table to negotiate,” said Beaudry. “That’s why we made it explicit this year.”

Sullivan adds staff

Republican former state Rep. Victoria Sullivan welcomed several new faces to her mayoral campaign this weekend, adding a campaign coordinator and 10 new members to her steering committee.

Sullivan announced this weekend that Tyler Gouveia is joining the team as campaign coordinator.

Gouveia was born and raised in Nashua, and most recently served as director of campaign operations for Steve Negron’s Congressional run in New Hampshire’s Second Congressional District. He has also served as campaign manager for former Nashua Alderman-At-Large Mark S. Cookson in 2017, and co-chaired Gov. Chris Christie’s students coalition in the 2016 New Hampshire Presidential Primary.

“We are excited to welcome Tyler to our growing team,” said Derek Dufresne of RightVoter, a general consultant for the Sullivan for Mayor campaign. “His tenacity, work ethic, and dedication to the grassroots principles that will be necessary to win this race were incredibly evident last election cycle. We are confident that he will be an important part of helping to ensure Victoria Sullivan is the next mayor of this great city.”

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Sullivan has also announced 10 new members of her steering committee. She previously introduced the committee’s first 10 members, whose names were recorded in this column on April 14.

The new additions are:

• Ward 6 Alderman Elizabeth Moreau, a former U.S. Army Medic

• State Rep. Larry Gagne, a U.S. Navy veteran who is serving in his sixth term representing Ward 6

• Former state Rep. J. Gail Barry from Ward 9, a retired nurse who served in the House from 1989-90, 1995-96 and 2002-12. She also ran for New Hampshire state Senate in 2012

• State Rep. Mark McLean, serving in his third term in the House representing District 44. He also serves as treasurer of the Manchester Republican Committee

• Ward 7 school board member Ross Terrio, a U.S. Marine and former state representative

Keith Murphy, owner of Murphy’s Taproom on Elm Street

Ray Hebert, a former state representative and a candidate for alderman in Ward 10

• Ward 6 resident Larraine Parsons Lencki, a community activist

• Ward 8 resident Jim Gaudet, a retired New Hampshire law enforcement officer whose career spanned 24 years in the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office and several police departments across the state

Mike Ricker, a small-business owner from Ward 9

“Leadership starts from the top and that is why I am endorsing Victoria Sullivan for mayor of Manchester,” said Moreau in a statement. “I know Victoria will always put our residents first because that is what she has done throughout her many years of service to our city. She will fight day in and day out to ensure Manchester gets put back on the right track for success. Victoria has my full support in her fight to make Manchester shine again.”

“Victoria Sullivan understands the issues facing Manchester taxpayers,” said Gagne in a statement. “She knows how important it is for our city’s government to keep taxes low while prioritizing our spending. The Queen City is at a crossroads and the time is now for new leadership that will help make Manchester shine once more.”

Tim Baines passing on another term

Citing pressing business demands, Ward 3 Alderman Tim Baines confirmed Saturday he would not seek reelection this fall. Baines said the move last month to buy out a partner and become full owner of the Mint Bistro restaurant requires his full attention.

“Manchester is a special place and as a lifelong resident I can say that there is no place that I would rather be. Nobody knows what the future holds, however, I can assure you that I will continue to be engaged and look forward to serving again in the near future,” Baines said in a statement.

“There is no doubt that Manchester’s best days are still to come.”

Craig to be honored

Franklin Pierce University announced it would award Craig one of three honorary degrees during the university’s 2019 commencement exercises, Saturday, May 18.

“It is a longstanding tradition at Franklin Pierce University to honor individuals whose personal and professional accomplishments provide examples for our students to admire, and hopefully, emulate,” said President Kim Mooney. “Mayor Joyce Craig’s determination to build relationships with businesses and universities to improve employment and quality of life in Manchester resonates with the strategic goals of Franklin Pierce University. As the first female mayor of New Hampshire’s largest city, she has already made a recognized positive impact on our New England community.”

Visioning Sessions

Manchester Proud will host two additional Visioning Sessions later this month to gather more input from the community on hopes and needs for the Manchester public schools.

The sessions are scheduled for May 22 and 23 at the SNHU Sandbox Collaborative, 1228 Elm St., from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Food will be provided.

The group expects a strategic plan will be complete and ready to present to the Board of School Committee by September of 2019.

Paul Feely is the City Hall reporter for the New Hampshire Union Leader and Sunday News. Reach him at pfeely@unionleader.com.

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