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Geary Outlines Five Year Improvement Plan for Manchester High School

Manchester High's new principal unveiled a series of steps to improve school climate and student achievement.

Manchester High School Principal Matthew Geary laid out a five-year plan intended to improved student achievement and the climate and culture at the high school as part of Wednesday's Board of Education meeting. 

Under the plan, Geary, who assumed principal duties at Manchester High in April, unveiled a multifaceted improvement strategy for the high school intended to drastically reshuffle the school's administration, severely reduce absences, drastically improvement test scores and overall grades, and revamp the overall climate at the school. 

"This change would be lasting," Geary said of his plan. "The culture at Manchester High would be completely different than it has been for years." 

Under the first part of the plan, which would see instructional improvements implemented from 2012 to 2015, the school would aim to see a 20 percent decrease in disciplinary incidents, suspensions, truancies and a 20 percent increase in student participation in extra-curricular actives through a series of strategies such as the new SWIPE attendance policy, greater communication between faculty and students and a number of other changes. The goal would be to raise the daily attendance rate at Manchester High to 97 percent by 2015. 

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The second phase of Geary's plan, focused on improving student achievement through a series of new initiatives and strategies, aims to see 97 percent of all students passing all courses; 75 percent of students with a B grade or better; and 25 percent of students with A grades. Geary would also like to see 60 percent of students meeting the state goal on the Connecticut Academic Performance Tests, and at least 95 percent of students scoring proficient on all aspects of the test. 

Implementation of this aspect of the plan would occur from 2012 to 2017, and would aim to have a graduation rate of 94 percent by the end, see no students being retained between grades and a 10 percent decrease in the achievement gap for all subgroups of students. 

Other new polices and changes coming to the high school included , the opportunity for students to take SAT tests during the school day, a fully wireless campus and a revised policy that would allow students to utilize their own wireless devices inside the classroom for learning purposes. 

Geary said his goal was to make Manchester High School one of the top high schools in the state by 2017. 

The Board of Education also reviewed the district's scores on the CAPT and Connecticut Mastery Tests and reviewed a revised social media policy presented by Interim Superintendent Richard Kisiel. 

The previous policy raised the ire of the American Civil Liberties Union, which the Connecticut chapter told the school board in a letter was "overly broad and impermissibly vague" when it was initially reviewed in May. 

Kisiel said that the school board's attorneys at the firm of Shipman & Goodwin worked with the ACLU to revise the policy and that he was confident the new policy would not lead to any civil rights violations. 

"If our legal counsel has worked with the ACLU, I'm confident that this meets the muster of protecting individual rights under the first amendment," Kisiel told the school board, who agreed to vote on the policy at a future meeting. 

A copy of the new proposed social media policy is attached to this article as a PDF. 

Scott Aiken October 11, 2012 at 11:50 AM
Mr. Geary's presentation, his energy, and his command of the topics he was speaking about last night were noteworthy. If his actions match his words, and so far it looks like they are, I only see two reasons why he and his team won't accomplish his goal: the student's support at home, and community support as a whole. We all need to ask just one question: "Mr. Geary, how can I help you and your team meet your goals?" My words to the BOE last night after hearing his presentation: If Mr. Geary isn't the principle of MHS by the time my kids move from their current grades in elementary school to the high school, they will need to answer to me :-)
M Smith October 11, 2012 at 06:08 PM
This is Great!! I'm SO excited. I knew we'd come around!!
James Bond October 11, 2012 at 09:45 PM
Now pay the teachers a salary equal to other places and you'll have a staff that will also be around in 2017, not moving on like so many ARE doing.Also I'll bet you a plug-nickel that neither Geary or Kisiel is around in 2017.
M Smith October 11, 2012 at 11:39 PM
Thanks for the negativity, Mr. Bond. Way to support your town! Maybe a bit more will make it better????
Sue Manser October 11, 2012 at 11:44 PM
I was pleased with the presention by Mr. Geary. I see some of the changes already and the year is new. I hope that as Mr. Aiken says, parents get behind this and help support the kids and the school, and we continue to improve the school which will improve the kids. Impressive ideas that have been formulated. Lots of work behind all of this, details to support any questions raised. I only wish more residents were at the BOE meeting to hear all about it.
Sue Manser October 11, 2012 at 11:45 PM
Well stated, I sort of wish my daughter had more than this year and next at the HS, but I will be watching as the kids in the neighborhood reach the HS. I think it is a great start to improvements that are needed.
James Bond October 12, 2012 at 01:17 PM
Negative? maybe.However, ask the question Am I wrong?Good teachers are leaving and few administrators stay more than 3 yrs.Thus 2017 will have new people at the helm.Ouelette was around longer for only one reason............no one would hire her and she tried real hard to get out for years.

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