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Manchester school board agrees to continue ESP after intense meeting

Posted on Tuesday, April 9, 2013 at 9:36 am

Before a room of concerned parents Monday night, the Manchester City School Board of Education voted Monday to keep the Extended School Program open this summer, while pledging to revisit some of the program’s problems in the upcoming months.

“I’ve made a lot of hard decisions,” said board member Lisa Gregory.  “There’s been a lot of controversial things that have come, but I don’t think I’ve dealt with something that’s sparked so much emotion as this.”

Parents, grandparents and even a former ESP worker spoke before the board arguing for the program’s continuance as is.

“I’m told that it’s not a financial reason that we’re doing this,” claimed Westwood parent Keith Holt. “It seems to come down to that we don’t have the attendance, but yet the money is there.

“To me that doesn’t add up. We sign up for a whole summer program. If we get busy and take a vacation or something, we still pay for that program.”

He further suggested that that idle staff (a concern expressed during last week’s work session by program coordinator Carolyn Davidson) could do other work, have the option to go home or have a higher worker-to-child ratio.

“If you are concerned about sending them home because there are not enough students there, you have the money for them to be there,” he said.

Holt and several other parents, some emotional to the point of tears, conveyed how much they need the program.

“If we lose this program, we will have to spend twice as much for a place to send our children,” he said…

Read the complete story in this week’s (April 10) Manchester Times. Click here to subscribe to the print and/or complete online version for in-depth coverage.