Schools- The school district should be brought back into the city and made into a department again. As has been seen over the last several years the board of school committee gets overly involved in matters most of the officials have no training or background in. The superintendent along with his administrative team should have decision making authority for the schools, and be held accountable by the Board of Alderman. In doing so we can ensure a better process improvement path, transparency and consistency which will lead to better outcomes for our students. To do so would require residents to make the decision via a special ballot questions and potential charter amendments.
Plans need to be in place to assist our children in recovering from the Covid protocols which have deprived many of our cities students from traditional full time in person classes. Though online or hybrid learning may work for some I fear it is leading to further educational gaps in our most at risk youths.
Also the schools need to be right sided budget wise given the consistent decrease in enrollments. It is not feasible to continually increase the budget when the number of students being served is dwindling. As the budget continues to increase we have also seen outcomes decline. A fundamental change and organization needs to occur and I would like to see the school administration spearhead this. I support new curriculum, supplies, books, facilities and fair payment for teachers, but we have to look at where the resources have gone to that once supported a much larger enrollment.
Information Sharing- I will spearhead an initiative to create a committee of department heads, alderman, and state level local officials who represent Manchester in Concord. Information sharing between these two levels of governing bodies is crucial to ensure Manchester's needs are brought to Concord. This committee will be meant to be non partisan and primarily driven by department head input on how legislation is and will effect their operations.
Safe Station- It is time to allow our firefighters and emergency responders to do their job. It has been several years since Safe Station was implemented (in my opinion as an emergency response to the escalating demand for services) and we are now at a point where we need to rely on established procedures that help share the cost across the state, and not be solely burdened with the majority of the states mental health and drug care.
This by no means looks to cancel all services to people who have used Safe Station. It is intended to come up with better pathways to recovery for all.
Transparency - Public officials on elected boards in Manchester should be held accountable for their actions. The ethics board should be revised to ensure this. Currently if any ethical issue comes about which is deemed inappropriate but short of criminal the board has no means of holding that member accountable. Situations like that are why so many have a distrust in elected officials to begin with.
Homelessness and Housing- There are two critical factors to reducing homelessness in Manchester. The first is to create an environment where workforce level housing can be made available/affordable and also ensuring our emergency shelter capacity is adequate for seasonal influxes. The second factor is to begin enforcing our laws currently in place. With having enough emergency housing those who find themselves homeless should not be allowed to camp on public property. It is both unsafe for them and an inconvenience to residents who want to use our public land as it is intended to be used. By enforcing our laws we can direct these individuals to the appropriate services to help them back on their feet. Whether that be with social services, drug rehab, housing, job placement and so forth. Allowing them to live in unsafe and unsanitary conditions is not the answer. As we saw last winter several individuals perished due to weather elements, drugs and numerous other factors in our cities encampments. We as a city can do better.
Employee Pay Scales- The city needs to find a suitable consultant who can bring about meaningful change to the Yarger-Decker pay scales currently in use. Through contract negotiations the city continually puts band aid fixes on a system which does not appear to be sustainable. Through the consultant and with negotiation and input form our city employee unions we need to come up with a solution that is both fair to tax payers and employees. Instead of continually passing the bill onto new employees and degrading their pay/benefits/retirements.
Community Service- I will hold office hours weekly at regular times to be available consistently for constituent services. During these office hours I will also make proactive outreach to groups and organizations in Manchester, to include youth organizations, religious groups, non-profits and other groups who may not typically enjoy spending time at city hall.