MANCHESTER BOARD OF SCHOOL COMMITTEE
Joint Meeting with Representatives of SAU #15
February 11, 2010
Members of the High School Review Committee consisting of the Coordination
Committee of the Manchester Board of School Committee and representatives of SAU
#15 and of the three school districts that make up SAU #15 met on Thursday, February 9,
at 5:00p.m at Cawley Middle School.
Present were Supt. Littlefield, the Superintendent of SAU #15, and Supt. Brennan,
the Superintendent of the Manchester School District, along with Becky Berk, the
representative of SAU #15, Todd Dumont, the rep from the Hooksett School Board,
Elaine Hobbs, the rep from the Auburn School Board, and Karen Smith, the rep from the
Candia School Board; as well as Dave Gelinas, the Vice Chair of the Manchester School
Board and Deb Langton, an at-large member of the Manchester School Board. Mayor
Gatsas arrived later in the meeting.
Supt. Littlefield presided and called the meeting to order. Mr. Gelinas made a
motion to approve the minutes of the January 8 meeting of the committee. Mrs. Hobbs
seconded the motion. Mrs. Berk referred to the mention of the number of times the SAU
Committee meets and stated it met four to six times per year not three to four times as
indicated and said a correction needed to be made regarding the name of the middle
school in Hooksett. The clerk took note. The motion passed by unanimous vote. Mrs.
Smith made a motion to approve the minutes of the meeting held on January 14. Mrs.
Hobbs seconded the motion. Mrs. Berk referred to a sentence on page 6 of the minutes
that was not clear and suggested a rewrite. With this suggestion, the motion passed by
Supt. Littlefield reviewed the representation by members of the three school
districts comprising SAU #15 on the newly re-formed advisory committees at
Manchester’s high schools. Mr. Dana Argo will be the Hooksett representative on
Central High School’s advisory committee. Mr. Cournoyer will be the Hooksett
representative on West High School’s advisory committee. Mrs. Hobbs will be on
Memorial High School’s advisory committee representing the Auburn School District.
Candia’s representative to Central’s advisory committee has not been appointed yet.
As agreed upon at the last meeting of the committee, Supt. Brennan provided a
listing by high school of the classes offered and the class sizes specifying those that
exceed the State standards. Going forward, the Manchester School District shall provide
the school boards a listing of the classes and their sizes relative to the first semester of
each school year by September 15 and those relative to the second semester by February
15. Also, copies of all correspondence and reports regarding accreditation and State
approval will be provided by the Manchester School District to the school boards.
At this time in the meeting, the committee had a discussion regarding the NH Code
of Administrative Rules of School Approval. Members had been provided a copy of the
rules and had been asked to come to this meeting with questions or concerns related to
the rules pertaining to high schools. Members of the sending districts raised a number of
February 11, 2010 1
concerns. Supt. Littlefield stated it was one thing for Manchester’s high schools to
achieve school approval but there is a need for the schools to continue to meet the
standards throughout the three-year cycle of approval.
Mrs. Hobbs said that the biggest concern of the Auburn School Board is with ED
Rule 306 having to do with class size and the number of classes at Manchester’s high
schools with numbers of 30 or more. She is aware there is a chemistry class at Memorial
High School with 34 students in it. The concern is not only about the students’ ability to
learn in these large classes but in regards to safety as well.
Supt. Brennan said he is aware that there are classes in all three of the high schools
that have numbers above the State standard. Some classes are slightly over the maximum
number allowed but some have higher numbers than the maximum number of 30. There
are some science classes and science labs that are above the standards. Another area
where large class sizes are seen is with some foreign language classes. At Central High
School there are two Spanish classes with 37 and 38 students. Authority was recently
given to hire a person for a 2/5 position to address this situation. To a committee
members’ concern of switching students out of a class at this time of year or breaking the
continuity established in a class between the teachers and students and the question of
whether new classes would be taught by the new staff member, Supt. Brennan said that it
is possible that the newly-hired staff person would team teach with another Spanish
teacher for the rest of this school year. Supt. Brennan said the District’s Administration
has been trying to sort things out regarding this matter.
Mrs. Hobbs asked whether through the upcoming budget process there is any intent
to address these concerns pertaining to class sizes and supplies etc. to properly fund
staffing line items and supplies’ line items. Supt. Littlefield said it would be best if
during the budget process when decisions regarding allocation of staff are made they are
made to ensure that the District is staying within the State standards. This would not only
be good for the students of SAU #15 but for the good of all of the students attending the
high schools in the Manchester School District. Supt. Brennan said that is his hope and
the hope of the School Board. The budget process is being approached in a new way this
year and there is more communication with the Aldermen than ever before.
He said the high schools try to project what their enrollments will be and which classes
the students will be signing up for. This can be challenging. He and his administrators
are trying as much as they can with the resources available to keep to the limits set by the
Mrs. Langton said she agrees with the concern with class sizes that exceed the
State standards, particularly in the case of science classes. She is a science teacher and
she knows the difficulties that both the students and teachers have when classes are larger
than 30 or when there are more than 24 students in a lab.
Mrs. Smith said there are patterns of student enrollments so the schools should
more or less know the number of students they have and which classes they have to take
or are opting to take. She asked if the issue is the student enrollment management
process and whether the District’s system is flawed. Supt. Brennan said the system is not
a flawed system but there are issues that arise in certain circumstances such as students
changing their schedules at the last minute. He said “we acknowledge this and we are
trying to deal with this the best way we can.”
February 11, 2010 2
Mrs. Smith expressed a concern that when classes are too big there are not enough
textbooks or other resources for all of the students in the class. She is aware of students
having to share textbooks. She said she has driven her daughter to another student’s
home to deliver a textbook because there were not enough for all of the students in the
class. Kids are assigned a textbook for one night but that textbook is assigned to another
student for the following night. Mrs. Langton said sharing textbooks in this way would
make it necessary for a teacher to extend the time assigned to the covering of material in
order for all of the students to have access to the textbooks. Teachers then need to take
this into account when planning how to cover all of the material in a course. Later in the
discussion, Mrs. Berk stated that she would want it to be on record that parents driving
from house to house to deliver textbooks in unacceptable.
Mr. Dupont said the Manchester School District and SAU #15 is seven years into
the high school maintenance agreement. There have been some concerns that have been
in existence for a number of years regarding some of the stipulations of the agreement.
He referred to section #2 of the agreement regarding accreditation and standards. He said
that section declares that “the Manchester School District will during the term of the
agreement provide a course of studies for grades 9-12 and the necessary facilities,
equipment, supplies, textbooks, teachers, and administration so that all Manchester high
schools qualify as comprehensive high schools in accordance with NH statutes and State
standards and are accredited by the New England Association of Secondary School and
Colleges…….” At Central and West there are classes with over 30 students in them and
labs with students at a number higher than the State minimum. He asked whether the
DOE has been notified that in this case those schools are out of compliance with the
statutes. Supt. Brennan replied “no.” Mrs. Berk asked if the District’s Administration
has a plan to notify the DOE of this matter. Supt. Brennan’s response was “there will be
Mr. Dupont asked about the ratio of the student enrollments at the high schools in
Manchester to the number of guidance counselors and assistant principals and whether
those adhere to the State statutes. Supt. Brennan said in that area the District’s high
schools are in compliance.
Mrs. Berk asked whether the library at West is open to students before and after
school. Supt. Brennan said additional staff has been hired to provide students’ access to
the library before and after school hours. She asked if there is a written plan for each
high school’s library. If there are such plans could they be provided to the members of
Mrs. Hobbs brought up another concern regarding Ed Rule 306.27 relative to co-
curricular programs. She said that in the past 3 to 4 years each spring there is talk in
Manchester about cutting extra-curricula activities and band and sports. That creates a
great deal of stress to the parents and students of Auburn. These are vital aspects of the
educational program of the high schools and the expectations presented in the
maintenance agreement regarding these things need to be adhered to as well.
Supt. Littlefield said he hears these concerns from parents of the districts that he
represents. Whenever the notion arises of the possibility of the elimination of extra-
curricula activities or sports, parents and students are affected. This is an accreditation
issue and an approval issue.
February 11, 2010 3
Mrs. Langton said it is important that the Aldermen of the City of Manchester are
aware of the maintenance agreement and of the State standards and accreditation
standards. They need to know what the State says schools must have in terms of a course
of studies and in terms of staffing, facilities, supplies, etc. And they shouldn’t use extra-
curricula activities as a scapegoat each year during the budget process making parents
and students’ concerned about the elimination of one activity or another.
Mrs. Berk referred to the minimum standards regarding the area of guidance and
counseling provided in the high schools. The rules require schools to have a guidance
and counseling policy and implementation plan. She said she would be interested in
seeing the District’s high schools’ plan or plans. The standards also call for counselor
evaluations and the guidance programs’ evaluation based on student outcomes,
stakeholders’ surveys, and self-assessment against national model recommendations. She
is curious to know whether that has been started or achieved in the Manchester high
In regards to the section in the rules pertaining to Information and Communication
Technologies Programs, Mrs. Berk commented on the requirement of student digital
portfolios. She said she has heard but does not know whether it is true that things are not
on schedule in the Manchester schools regarding this requirement and every student does
not have a digital portfolio. She would like to know the status of this matter. Supt.
Brennan said he would need to pursue the status of this requirement and that of the
Mrs. Berk said that at a recent parent forum held at West High School there was
discussion about insufficient technology training for teachers at the school and about the
fact that there is not enough computer capacity at the school to meet the needs. The issue
about library time also came up. Another matter addressed was the lack of supplies to
support the curriculum ie not having enough wood for shop classes.
Supt. Littlefield summed up the concerns expressed by the sending towns in terms
of the maintenance agreement with the Manchester School District. He said the concerns
include the issues having to do with class sizes, the meeting of State standards,
instructional resources such as textbooks for all students, and maintaining co-curricular
activities for students to participate in as part of their educational program.
Mr. Dupont noted another concern had been about communication. Supt.
Littlefield said this concern has been addressed by the committee to some degree but he
would like to revisit this concern. It is a major issue. It is good to know that the advisory
committees have been reinstated. A challenge for him is how to help the sending districts
in encouraging the parents of those districts to be more interested in attending meetings at
the local level to voice their feelings or concerns. The sending towns need to encourage
representation on the District’s sub-committees and once representatives are appointed
they need to be encouraged to show up at the sub-committee meetings and to then
communicate with their boards. These are things that need to be enhanced from the
perspective of the sending towns. He said that he and Supt. Brennan communicate on a
frequent basis but they should be meeting together more often.
Mr. Gelinas said that a listing of all sub-committee meetings through the month of
June is provided on the District’s website. All of the sub-committees have a standard
meeting day and time; mostly Tuesdays beginning at 6:00p.m.
February 11, 2010 4
Mrs. Berk reiterated a point that had been made earlier about the Manchester Board
of School Committee and the City’s Aldermen needing to make a greater effort in
communicating the correlation of the budget numbers to the educational program and the
State’s standards as well as the accreditation requirements. Mr. Gelinas said if the
citizens of the sending towns have been looking at how the budget processes of the past
few years have transpired he can understand their concerns. He is confident in saying
this year’s budget process for the Manchester School District and the City of Manchester
is being done much differently. The Mayor and the Aldermen and the Superintendent of
Schools and the members of the Board of School Committee are all working in harmony
on the development of the District’s budget. He is also confident that a lot of the
concerns that have been expressed at these committee meetings will be addressed in the
coming year. The collaboration that has been taking place will be beneficial in many
regards. He is a lifelong citizen of the City of Manchester and a graduate of the
Manchester School District and he is proud of the education he received and that is
offered in the District.
Mrs. Berk said there are a lot of excellent things happening in the Manchester high
schools. She cited the outstanding work that has been done and continues to be done
with the competencies. She said Supt. Brennan and his staff are doing wonderful work as
well but she thinks the District’s Central Office is woefully understaffed. Mr. Gelinas
said his belief is that with this current budget process people will be enthused and the
District will be able to move forward in a positive way.
Mayor Gatsas said he takes pride in the City and in its educational system. He is
confident both are moving forward. There is a spirit of collaboration that hasn’t existed
before. He is asking the sending districts to join him in making the Manchester School
District the best school district in the State. He considers the Manchester School District
to be the best in the State and if it is not it is going to be.
Supt. Littlefield said the committee is focusing on three major issues. He would
suggest that the agenda items for the next committee meeting be to look at the
accreditation standards and to continue the dialog about communication. The next
meeting would take place at the Administration Offices in Manchester on Thursday,
March 4, at 5:00p.m.
Supt. Brennan informed the committee that notification had been received that a
Hooksett student attending West High School, Claire Penney, has been selected to be part
of the Presidential Scholars Program, a highly prestigious academic program for high
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned. The time of
adjournment was 6:08p.m.
A TRUE RECORD ATTEST:
Suzanne O. Sears, Clerk of the Board
February 11, 2010 5