Note: This message was sent to staff and families on Thursday, August 24. 

Good afternoon,

As you may know, earlier this year our school district began working with a consulting firm of subject matter experts, SMMA, on a long-term plan for school facilities. This plan, called a master plan, will guide the District's decision-making in both the short- and long-term, as we work to ensure all students have access to high quality, 21st Century learning environments.

The master plan will be inclusive of all of our schools, however we must acknowledge that there are critical needs that we must begin to address immediately. The planning work is broken into two priorities, and in a special Board of School Committee meeting on Monday (meeting information is at the bottom of this message), we will make recommendations for all of the priority one items:

  • Status of Wilson Elementary School
  • Completing middle school transition to 5-8 model
  • Preliminary site location for new high school

I’m writing to you today to share a brief summary of the recommendations we will be making on those items. These recommendations are not made lightly nor without proper consideration for the impact they will have on our students, families and staff. Our ultimate goal is to ensure every student has access to a modern learning environment that meets their needs and supports their learning, growth and success. This is our opportunity to re-think and re-imagine how we deliver education, from the physical spaces to the programs we provide.

Priority One Recommendations

Henry Wilson Elementary: Wilson Elementary would be closed at the end of the 2023-2024 school year. Students and staff would be split between Beech Street and McDonough Elementary Schools to begin in the 2024-2025 school year. New, modern modular classroom spaces would be temporarily placed at Beech Street and McDonough to accommodate additional staff and students. The team will work closely with the Beech Street and McDonough Principals to determine which grades or programs would be accommodated in the temporary classrooms. A new elementary school would be built adjacent to the current McDonough school, with construction anticipated to begin in fall 2024. 

Middle schools: All four middle schools would get additions as well as internal renovations to better suit the modern middle school team teaching model. Fifth grade students still at elementary schools would be transitioned to Hillside and McLaughlin Middle Schools for the start of the 2024-2025 school year. New, modern modular classroom spaces would be temporarily placed at Hillside and McLaughlin to accommodate additional students. In addition, the same modular classrooms would be placed at Parkside and Southside Middle Schools to relieve space constraints and would remain in place to assist with swing space for the additions and renovations. 

High school site: Four potential locations are identified for a newly built high school, including the current locations of Central, West and Memorial, as well as in the area around Gill Stadium and Beech Street School. There is no recommendation at this time on the future of any Manchester high school, however a recommendation will be brought forward before the end of 2023. 

These recommendations are laid out in more detail in the agenda packet for Monday’s special Board of School Committee meeting: special board meeting agenda

Next steps: We will present these recommendations at the special Board of School Committee meeting set on Monday, August 28, at 5:30 p.m. at City Hall to review these recommendations. The meeting will be broadcast on Manchester Public Television Channel 22 and can be viewed online at

Since this is a special meeting, any votes on these recommendations must be taken at the regular Board of School Committee meeting, which will immediately follow the special meeting. If the Board of School Committee approves these recommendations, the Board of Mayor and Aldermen would be asked to grant final approval.

We understand fully that these recommendations would be major changes that will impact many of our schools. We are approaching this work thoughtfully and are taking the time to make sure we get this right, because this is what your students, families and staff deserve. 


Jennifer Chmiel Gillis,
Superintendent of Schools
Manchester School District