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Open Letter to Ward 6 Voters

I’m currently reaching out to my friends and neighbors in Ward 6, listening to their concerns and understanding their priorities. At the same time, I’m sharing my message: I want to get the gears turning again in Manchester School District (MSD). As a parent, I’ve seen the challenges grow while my 4 daughters spent a total of 30 school-years in the district. As a taxpayer, I’ve seen promises broken time and again by boards and administrations.

Inattention and misplaced priorities allowed sludge to build up over the years. Well-intentioned programs and political bickering have thrown sand into the gears. It’s time to clean out the machine, repair the parts, and get the gears turning faster and stronger than ever.

Here’s what that will mean to parents and taxpayers of Ward 6:

  • More equitable system
  • Fewer crowded classrooms
  • Safer schools
  • More instruction time
  • Parental involvement

Grinding to a Halt

There are several reasons why the machine has broken down. First and foremost, the Board of School Committee (BOSC) has been can-kicking, navel-gazing, and fear-mongering instead of leading. Redistricting is the best example of the board’s failure. Supposedly, this has been a priority for over a decade. Yet, classes are still overcrowded at the elementary schools and entire wings of high schools are hauntingly empty.

This foolishness has to stop. We have board members who ignore data, abdicate their responsibilities, fixate on hidden agendas, and occasionally disrupt proceedings with emotional and childish behavior.

All of this poor leadership leads to underperformance by the administration. We’ve seen a series of ill-advised and poorly planned decisions devastate the MSD. Almost three years after the Manchester Academic Standards were adopted, the district still has no math program. Teachers and students have both been hung out to dry.

Repairing the System

The good news is that the new superintendent, Dr. Vargas, understands these issues, knows how to fix them, and is developing a plan. He simply needs the support of a functional BOSC to begin the repair process.

Dr. Vargas has already begun with proposals to solve classroom overcrowding, reduce classroom assessment time, increase parental involvement, and more. Unfortunately, he is running into resistance from the board and other administrators who want to keep the status quo.

When I serve as Ward 6’s committeeman, I plan to bring change to the board by:

  • Insisting on proof before and accountability after decisions
  • Finding solutions within realistic constraints
  • Behaving with proper board decorum
  • Always speaking the plain, unvarnished truth
  • Not taking the easy way out
  • Rejecting the lowest common denominator

Getting the Gears Turning

As soon as Manchester has a BOSC that understands the real issues facing the district and is willing to roll up its sleeves, we can get the gears turning again. What will it look

  • More equitable system: Currently, 8 of MSD’s 14 elementary schools receive Title 1 federal funding. Green Acres and Weston are not among them. Children in Ward 6 deserve the same opportunities as those schools.
  • Fewer crowded classrooms: The district currently has all of the resources it needs to reduce class sizes. It simply needs to move them from where there are too few to where there are too many.
  • Safer schools: MSD enrollment has decreased by more than 3,000 students (19%) over the past 11 years. This has resulted in empty classes and hallways that stretch resources too thinly. Right-sizing the district will alleviate much of this.
  • More instruction time: We have been increasingly over-assessing our kids for years. Reducing assessments to a reasonable and effective level will mean more instruction time and less frustration from teachers.
  • Parental involvement: Whether it’s not informing parents of head lice in their child’s classroom or not allowing bake sales, too many board members want parents to be seen and not heard. I will not be one of them.


Jon DiPietro
Candidate for Ward 6 Board of School Committee