“In late 2017, Manchester real estate developer and landlord Arthur Sullivan expected a no-fuss lease renewal for a major tenant in the Millyard. What he received instead was a rebuke with serious implications for his business and the future economic health of the city.
“Instead of a renewal, the tenant told me he was thinking of downsizing their space and moving the bulk of their operations to Massachusetts or Connecticut,” Sullivan said. When Sullivan asked why, he was told the main issue was the reputation of the city’s public schools.
“They told me they had major issues with hiring people from out of the region. Prospective hires would come to town and say, ‘Thanks but no thanks’ because the quality of public schools was a problem,” he said. “Something with this much impact, of this magnitude, was a waking moment for me. I asked my tenants and others in the business community in Manchester, and I found there was a lot of rumbling about the schools. I talked to [former] Mayor Gatsas and talked to School Superintendent [Dr. Bolgen] Vargas. I wanted to find out what the real issue was. I wondered if maybe it was the facilities [were] not up to par. I realized we needed to put our heads together and come up with solutions. We can’t take no for an answer.”
“We are at a tipping point and something has to be done to help students in our city.”
What began as a series of informal meetings and fact-finding missions among civic and business leaders became the genesis of Manchester Proud, the grassroots, nonpartisan public school reform organization. It was officially launched in May and has taken root in the city by bringing together teachers, school administrators, business leaders, parents, city officials, students, residents, education experts, and nonprofit and civic organizations.
Additionally, the organization is quickly reaching its $600,000 fundraising goal; more than 1,000 volunteers have signed on to provide input and establish five working groups; more than 100 information and fundraising meetings have taken place; and volunteers with no previous experience have embarked in unprecedented canvassing efforts across the city.” Continue Reading Here