My name is Jon DiPietro and I’m running for Board of School Committee in Manchester’s Ward 6. I’ve lived in Manchester for 25 years and my 4 daughters have spent the equivalent of 30 school years in our public schools. I decided to run because we need to stop the can-kicking, navel-gazing, and fear mongering. The school district is facing many challenges that directly affect the parents, students, and taxpayers of Ward 6, all of which I have seen up close with my children. I believe we can meet these challenges with resolve, perspective, and rationality.
However, the District has been kicking problems down the road for years due to a lack of leadership on the Board and accountability from the administration. Board members spend hours navel-gazing at trivial problems because it’s easier than making the tough decisions. And many politicians and administrators unnecessarily spread fear, uncertainty, and doubt in order to influence policy in a particular direction.
I worked as an engineer for over 25 years, which means that I’ve always had to solve problems within a set of constraints. Engineers can’t simply demand more power, a larger box, or more money just to make the job easier. And once the design is complete, it must be tested to ensure it meets the requirements. Our school policies and budgets should be no different. The Board must craft solutions while working within the constraints set forth by the Aldermen and taxpayers. And its policies must continually prove their merit by demonstrating results.
My top priority will be to assist Superintendent Vargas with his goal of right-sizing the District. Most residents are aware of the overcrowding issues facing the elementary schools but few are aware that our schools are nearly one third empty. And fewer are aware that the student to teacher ratio is lower today than ten years ago. We don’t have too few resources; we have them spread too thinly.
Another priority will be to stop experimenting on our kids. Too many decisions are made based on theory and conjecture without solid evidence that they will work. Educators and bureaucrats will always have another year to get it right but your child only gets one chance at first grade. I’m going to insist on proof before and accountability after.
I also believe that our teachers and students are spending far too much time on assessments. I’m very much in favor of making data-driven decisions but the system needs a better balance between instruction and testing.
I hope that the residents of Ward 6 will support my goal of re-engineering the Manchester School District. I pledge to be both a voice of reason and a voice for constituents, fighting to make sure our kids get the resources they need by making better use of the resources available.