MANCHESTER – On Tuesday night, the Board of Mayor and Aldermen gave final approval for $290 million in bonding for facilities work in the Manchester School District, clearing the way for construction to begin in fall 2024.

The $290 million covers “priority one” of the district’s long-term facilities planning, which includes the closure of Henry Wilson Elementary School, construction of a new elementary school near the current Beech Street School, shifting Hillside and McLaughlin Middle Schools to the Grade 5-8 model, and additions and renovations at all four middle schools to properly accommodate fifth grade students and the “team” middle school model. Superintendent of Schools Jennifer Chmiel Gillis thanked Aldermen for the vote in support of the work. 

“With tonight’s vote, Manchester has taken a massive step toward creating next-generation learning environments that will meet the needs of students for years to come,” Gillis said. “This historic vote will have a direct and immediate impact on staff, students and families at half of our schools. This investment sends a message not just to those staff, students and families, but to the entire community that we believe that healthy, thriving schools equate to healthy, thriving communities.”

Manchester School District’s long-term facilities planning work is broken into two priority lists. Priority one recommendations were approved initially by the Board of School Committee in August, with a final approval on November 13. The vote on Tuesday night clears the way for the District to begin planning for the transition of students and staff who will move to new schools in the fall of 2024. 

“Tonight's vote to approve the $290 million bond is a critical investment in our City's future,” said Mayor Joyce Craig. “Better facilities lead to better student outcomes. Our kids deserve learning environments that set them up for success and we're now able to move forward with building spaces for our kids to learn, grow and thrive. Thank you to the Board of Mayor and Aldermen and the Board of School Committee for approving this investment, it's a huge win for our students, our educators and our community.”

In detail, the priority one recommendations include:

  • Wilson closing: Henry Wilson Elementary School will close at the end of the current school year. Students and staff would be split between Beech Street School and McDonough Elementary School for the start of the upcoming 2024-2025 school year. 

  • New elementary: Construction will begin on a new elementary school near Beech Street School starting in fall 2024. 

  • Middle schools: Hillside and McLaughlin Middle Schools will receive fifth graders for the first time starting in fall 2024, and all four middle schools would receive renovations and additions to accommodate additional students and better serve the “team” model that is currently used.  

  • Temporary modular classrooms: New temporary modular classrooms will be placed at Beech Street, McDonough, Parkside, Southside, McLaughlin and Hillside to accommodate additional students and facilitate the construction process.

  • High school site: Initial work to identify a site for a new, comprehensive high school. 

Priority two recommendations, which will be detailed as part of a master plan set for completion by March, will include plans for the remaining elementary schools and the four high schools. The District is planning to bring updated plans for a comprehensive high school forward in early 2024. As part of that planning, the District will schedule listening sessions on the high schools before the start of the new year.