Manchester's new Superintendent of Schools John Goldhardt

Manchester’s new Superintendent of Schools John Goldhardt poses outside the district’s office at Manchester West High School on May 17.

AN ESTIMATED 80 people attended a welcome reception for new Superintendent of Schools John Goldhardt at the Millyard Museum last week.

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Goldhardt, who has been on the job since early July, said he and his wife already have purchased a home in Ward 1, “a few doors down” from Barry Brensinger, one of the co-founders of Manchester Proud.

He said his wife, Roma, should arrive in the Queen City this week, along with the moving vans shipping their belongings from Utah.

Goldhardt said he is looking forward to heading to the Department of Motor Vehicles and trading in his “Life Elevated” plate for one with the motto, “Live Free or Die.”

Goldhardt gave a short speech at the reception, where he referenced Air New Zealand Flight TE901, which left Mangere airport in Auckland the morning of Nov. 28, 1979, for an 11-hour return sightseeing flight to Antarctica. The aircraft crashed into the lower slopes of Mt. Erebus, killing all 237 passengers and 20 crew on board, and is the worst civil disaster in New Zealand’s history.

Goldhardt said someone altered the plane’s coordinates by two degrees, which put the flight off course by 28 miles.

“It was a terrible tragedy, brought on by a minor error, a matter of only a few degrees,” said Goldhardt. “When it comes to the children of this school district, we cannot be off by a few degrees. We have to be on the right route, going to the right destination. This is why having an aligned system, and a comprehensive strategic plan, with an aligned mission and vision, matters.”

Goldhardt said having a strategic plan — which Manchester Proud hopes to present to school officials in early 2020 — will allow the district to “align our policies, budgets, and hiring practices.”

“Let us move forward in a positive way,” said Goldhardt. “Let us put aside petty differences and political ideologies so that we can work on behalf of students. We don’t have time to wait for this to happen, and to wait for other things to occur and say it has to happen in the future. It has to start now. We need to move forward together, with urgency. Our students deserve more. Our community deserves more.”

Looking out for little guy

Considering the technological advancements and inventions that Dean Kamen, founder of FIRST and president of DEKA Research & Development Corporation, has had a hand in developing over the years, it was cool to hear him looking out for the little guy last week.

Specifically, pizza delivery guys.

Kamen attended last week’s roll out of Roxo, the new FedEx SameDay Delivery Bot that made its debut outside City Hall Tuesday afternoon. Roxo, whose name means “purple” in Portuguese, rolled up Elm Street with a gift bag for Manchester Mayor Joyce Craig, the first such autonomous delivery made in any U.S. city under the delivery bot program.

FedEx officials have said one possible use they envision for their bot is delivering pizzas.

Kamen was asked by a reporter if pizza delivery guys around the Queen City should feel threatened by a 4-foot, 2-inch tall, 200-pound robot.

“Look, pizza delivery guys or anyone who asks, ‘Aren’t you worried about advanced technology ruining the world?’ I say show me an example in history where new technology didn’t create more and better jobs,” said Kamen. “Just show me one. You can’t find a human activity, not a single one, where a better way to do it came along and it hurt industry. It gives more people a better opportunity for better careers. If you can find an example that’s not consistent with that, I’d love to hear it.”

Kamen used an example of bulldozers replacing ditch-diggers with shovels.

“I don’t know how many people want to have a back-breaking job of using a shovel to break rocks if those same people could drive a bulldozer,” said Kamen. “Replacing dangerous, low-paying jobs with safer, cleaner technology-driven jobs, gives people more opportunities and better careers.”

“We’re just so grateful for all that Dean and DEKA has brought to the city and the United States, frankly,” said Mayor Craig. “The partnerships that have been forged, when you think about it, have really brought so much to Manchester and individuals across the country, and it’s happening right in our backyard. As mayor, I’m so grateful for everything that’s happening here. I appreciate the partnerships that we have, and anything the city can do to support and encourage this creative, innovative ecosystem that exists and is growing in our Millyard right now is what we want to do.”

Wedding congratulations

Congratulations go out today to Lauren Smith, policy and strategic outreach director for Mayor Craig, and Craig Brown, Craig’s 2017 mayoral campaign manager and current state director for California U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris’ presidential campaign.

They were married this weekend at the Seacoast Science Center in Rye, with Mayor Craig officiating the ceremony.

Report card

Representatives from Manchester Proud went before city aldermen recently to give board members an update on the progress the group has made over the last 13 months, calling the process thus far “an extraordinary mix of challenging, deeply meaningful, exhausting, and awesome fun — much as we all would hoped it would be.”

A progress report released by the group states “dozens of community leaders have devoted nearly 10,000 hours of work to understanding what the Manchester community wants in its future schools and thinking about how to get there.”

One group is exploring how the city, school district and local non-profits could coordinate their resources to help students and families.

Another group of local financial leaders is studying the local and state funding of schools for creative opportunities.

A new Community Planning Group, which includes Goldhardt, is considering new ideas in response to what members heard during community engagement sessions in the Manchester School District. The group includes parents, students, educators, and school and community leaders.

Fundraising has exceeded its goal with $790,015 collected in donations as of early July. The group is funded by private donations only.

A new committee has formed to bring diverse communities into the conversation.

The report also explains how a series of unanticipated events — including an unresolved state budget and the departure of the former superintendent — contributed to a decision to shift the group’s timeline for completion of its scope of work. Manchester Proud now intends to present its plan for the district to the Board of School Committee no later than the first quarter of 2020, rather than the fall of 2019.

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