Best News All Day 3-26-13


Being a superintendent of schools is a pretty thankless job. There is never enough money. Everyone is constantly second-guessing your decisions, from teachers to the school board to the average citizen who knows next to nothing about education. And when you try to make improvements, shake things up for the overall good, parents, kids and teachers fill a large auditorium or gymnasium or hearing room to talk about why the improvement plan is such a bad idea — often before hearing all the details.

Hudson Superintendent of Schools Brian Lane is trying to make a change, to improve student test scores by restructuring the early education model in his town. Will it work? Maybe. But first he has to convince the people who live in Hudson to let him do it.

— In case you missed it, WMUR interview with newly elected Manchester City Democrats Chairwoman Liz Kulig.

— Not quite New Hampshire news, but a rare white coyote was found in Kennebunk, Maine.

These photos of Cranmore Mountain’s annual pond skimming event over the weekend makes you realize the North Country is totally having more fun than we are this winter.

Another blow to charter schools. And the university system.

— The Manchester Superintendent of Schools candidates got a taste of the job Monday night.

— Last Thursday, I attended the Portsmouth Pecha Kucha (pronounced Puh-CHA Koo-CHA), a sort of TED talk thing that actually began before the whole TED talk thing was a thing. My favorite segment was presented by Jane Seney, educator, tour and docent program director. A Manchester native, Seney spoke about how her view of the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Zimmerman House has changed over the years. It was enlightening and made me realize how rich in art and architecture Manchester really is.

Best News All Day 3-20-13


I start today with a little news from Vermont. The Valley News reports that The Alchemist brewery in Waterbury had made the finest beer in America, according to Beer Advocate. Its Heady Topper IPA got a score of 100, making it one of the finest brews of all time. It can be seen above, being enjoyed by some young, hip folks on a warm summer day (remember those?). The photo is by Vermont photographer Emily McManamy, who also has a great blog you should check out.

— In education, there are those that feel small class sizes are key, while others say it’s having a good teaching, while others say good outcomes depend on a great school leader. But what just about everyone agrees upon is that providing children with quality education at an early age produces higher student outcomes in later years and is well worth the investment. Consider that as you read this article in the Nashua Telegraph about Hudson’s lagging elementary school standardized test scores. Statistically, Hudson shouldn’t be performing so poorly. They do not have a large minority population or a large population of poor. What is it that sets Hudson apart, besides the fact it did not offer public kindergarten until three years ago?

— Everything you wanted to know about Portsmouth’s parking problems but were afraid to ask.

— NH House drops the proposed gas tax by a few cents, but Senate Republicans say the increase is dead on arrival.

— Nice piece in the Conway Daily Sun about the defeat of turning back on the trail, even if it’s for the best.

—  Convoluted winter parking rules and inner-city residents who don’t always mind the winter parking ban make for hundreds of cars towed each winter in Manchester. Police Chief David suggests hiking the towing fees to cover police costs (and perhaps increase the deterrent factor?). Commenters on the Union Leader website are howling, but I counter these complaint of rate increases with: how about not getting towed in the first place?

— Manchester Fire Departmant suggests going out to bid for ambulance service, perhaps suggesting support for dumping AMR. Too bad Rockingham Ambulance went out of business.

Dan Bergeron will replace departing Manchester Ward 6 Board of School Committee member Donna Soucy. Bergeron is a board member of the Machester Transit Authority and has two children in Manchester Schools. His addition comes just in time, as the school board will soon vote to hire a new superintendent.

Opening this piece, however, is a bit about an expensive and completely ineffective attempt to computerize and consolidate the city’s records, from the City Clerk’s office to the Planning Department. This isn’t the first time I’ve seen a company or a government agency go down the path of converting to a terribly designed and ridiculously expensive computer platform or piece of software. I don’t know if this is the responsibility of a group like the Better Business Bureau or if this is a private business venture, but whoever comes up with a platform/system/software rating system small-medium businesses and governments alike can access to determine whether the super-expensive new system they are buying is not a piece of crap will be lauded as both a hero and a genius.