manchester central high

Consultant for Manchester (N.H.) district recommends closing 1 high school and 4 elementary schools

Jan. 6, 2021
The consultant's report says district school buildings are operating significantly below capacity.

A school facilities report for the Manchester (N.H.) district recommends closing four elementary schools and one high school, while merging two other high schools to address declining enrollment and more than $150 million in deferred maintenance and other costs.

The New Hampshire Union Leader reports that a revised audit by MGT Consulting Group suggests closing Hallsville, Gossler Park, Smyth and Wilson elementary schools, along with Central High. Other recommendations include merging Manchester School of Technology with Manchester Memorial High School.

Manchester Superintendent of Schools John Goldhardt said the studies provide a framework for a long process.

“Manchester School District did not get into these facilities issues overnight, and it will take more than overnight to address them all,” he said in a statement.

The recommendations are being made to address years of declining enrollment and under-capacity schools.

The district has 3,701 empty seats in its schools. The audit reports that number is projected to grow to more than 4,500 over the next 10 years. MGT estimates Manchester schools could spend more than $20 million over the next 10 years if efforts are not taken to reduce the excess capacity.

The study forecasts the school district can “reasonably expect” enrollment to continue to decline before leveling off by 2030. According to the audit, the average age of school buildings in Manchester is 70 years.

The revised study includes two options for addressing empty seats in the district. One involves moving the remaining fifth grade students to middle schools, closing Hallsville, Gossler Park, Smyth Road, and Wilson elementary schools and Central High School, and repurposing or divesting the sites.

Closure of the five schools would save the district about $47.3 million in deferred maintenance, system upgrades, and capital improvements as well as almost $600,000 annually in utility costs, according to the report.

The second option calls for moving fifth grade students back to elementary schools, closing Hallsville, Gossler Park, and Smyth Road elementary schools, Southside Middle School and Central High School.

About the Author

Mike Kennedy | Senior Editor

Mike Kennedy has been writing about education for American School & University since 1999. He also has reported on schools and other topics for The Chicago Tribune, The Kansas City Star, The Kansas City Times and City News Bureau of Chicago. He is a graduate of Michigan State University.

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