By Mayor Joyce Craig
Also available at InDepthNH
Strong public schools are critical for our city’s success and lead to a thriving community, better jobs, safer neighborhoods, enhanced property values and so much more. As we continue our work to build a stronger Manchester, we must continue to provide resources and support to our educators and students to ensure our children can reach their full potential.
Along with my children and husband, I’m a proud graduate of Manchester’s public schools.
As a parent, my desire to make Manchester public schools better is what motivated me to run for public office. And whether you’re a student, a teacher, a parent, a business leader, or a resident — we all have a vested interested in our public education system.
In order to build on Manchester’s prosperity, we must continue to invest in our public schools and develop new ways to prepare our children to become college and career ready.
We cannot expect our students to excel when we don’t give them the resources they need. This year, in my tax-cap budget, I proposed the largest increase in education funding in 14 years, and worked with our lawmakers in Concord to ensure Manchester received its fair share of state education funding.
In the last two years, we’ve also looked for creative ways to add more resources to the district. Last fall, we secured the highly-competitive GEAR UP Grant, bringing in $10.5 million
to help our middle and high school students become college and career ready. We were also awarded a $500,000 grant from the Barr Foundation to redesign the curriculum at Manchester High School West. In addition, we’re partnering with Manchester Proud to raise private funds to develop the first ever, community-based strategic plan to improve our public schools.
Because of these successes, we have been able to invest in increasing student achievement.
In the last year and a half, we’ve adopted a new math curriculum and brought French classes back to middle schools. We implemented new workforce development programs — Velcro University and Eversource Academy. We reduced elementary class sizes through redistricting. We also expanded the Leader in Me program to every school on the West side and made one of the largest-ever investments in technology across the district.
In my first term, we’ve also worked to develop educational opportunities and increase resources outside of the classroom.
Reading is the most crucial academic skill because it is the foundation for learning. Knowing this, we’ve worked to implement programs focused on improving literacy and increasing access to books.
Last year, by partnering with the Manchester School District and the Manchester City Library, we relaunched the Bookmobile, providing books to children throughout the summer, free of charge.
The Manchester City Library also worked to eliminate overdue book files on children and young adult materials, ensuring that every child can afford to check out a book from our libraries, and develop a love of reading.
This year, we announced that through a partnership between the Manchester Transit Authority and the Manchester School District, any Manchester high school student can ride city buses for free, removing barriers for students to attend school, to get to work and access services in parts of the city they weren’t able to easily access before.
When we invest in our youth, we are directly investing in the future of our city. I’m inspired by the commitment across our community to work to make our educational opportunities stronger.
There has never been a more pivotal time to impact the direction of Manchester’s public schools than right now. We cannot expect continued economic prosperity for our city if we do not continue to improve our educational system. Improving our public-school system a priority.
I believe in our students, teachers, and parents. I believe in Manchester’s public schools and will always work to improve opportunities for our students and educators.
In a second term, I’ll continue bringing together community partners and state leaders to expand the ways our children can learn, make smart investments in education, and continue the progress we’ve made to build a stronger Manchester.