Essex & Manchester Must Come Together As The Partners They Are


To the Editor,

As I write this Tuesday morning, I do not yet know the outcome of the School Committee’s vote tonight.  No matter which way the vote goes, Essex and Manchester must come together as partners. 

Even before the failed override, I have observed tension between Manchester and Essex.  This school budget season has exacerbated that.  It has been frustrating, to say the least.  There has been divisive rhetoric used by both sides. 

No, it’s not true that “Essex does not support education.”  This statement is a stereotype.

No, it’s not true that “Manchester wants a private school education for their public school at Essex’s expense.”  This statement is a stereotype.

Stereotypes are generalizations.  They paint an oversimplified picture of a group of people.  They are lazy, inaccurate, and result in “us or them” thinking.  They are not necessary or helpful to our communities or our district. 

In the past few weeks, I have seen Essex school supporters fighting tooth and nail for the original, level-services school budget that Superintendent Beaudoin recommends.  And I have heard school supporters in Manchester (and Essex) speak of being mindful of what it means for a fixed-income household to deal with a tax increase.  The above statements are just not true.

Our regional school district depends on our towns coming together as partners in our children’s education.  Whether it is “facilitation,” “collaboration,” or “mediation,” the leaders of both towns and our district need to come together to solve the problem. 

Tragically, it’s the children of our communities who live with the consequences of this budget crisis and tension in the communities.

Superintendent Beaudoin’s ability to do her job has been hindered by this tension: it distracts her from leading the district in its mission to educate our children. 

Teachers’ ability to do their jobs has also been hindered by the lack of security that comes when a budget has not been passed.  This is detrimental to them, and it is also detrimental to students’ learning experiences. 

Most importantly, it’s the students in the hallways of Manchester-Essex Regional Middle School and Manchester-Essex Regional High School that have to live and learn together every day.  Comments and stereotypes amongst adults get interpreted and repeated by our children.  The culture of our towns trickles into the schools to create the world in which our children have to live every day.

I call on all of us in both towns to do our part to reduce the tension.  Together, we need to look at the problem that is in front of us right now: our schools are in crisis and we need to pass a budget.  And we need to work together to solve that problem right now. It is in the best interest of both of our communities. 

It is especially in the best interest of the children in our communities.

Lindsay Banks


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