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School board subcommittee to look at Hooksett school options

Union Leader Correspondent

November 11. 2012 9:52PM

HOOKSETT - The Hooksett School Board has formed a subcommittee to hold talks with area school districts about accepting some or all of the town's high school students.

The subcommittee will include School Board members Trisha Korkosz and Michael Dubisz, and Superintendent Charles Littlefield, and will discuss cost, interest, timelines, and the numbers of students to be accepted should contracts with those districts be signed. The subcommittee will not, however, negotiate any binding deals.

Most Hooksett students attend Manchester's Central or West high schools. The school board and local parents are concerned about overcrowding in the city schools, which prompted the search for another option.

A single contract may not be the only way to go. The local organization High School Education Lifts People prepared a proposal in recent weeks to sign multiple contracts with area schools, allowing parents a choice.

Some schools, such as Bow High School, are capable of taking some of Hooksett students. Bow has a capacity of 660 students with only 511 now enrolled. That number is projected to drop below 450 by 2020, leaving room for around 220 students.

The Hooksett School Board seems to have been listening. A part of the subcommittee's work will be to investigate this option, gathering data on its cost and logistics to weigh against the single school option.

While the details of such a course are shaky, the raw idea seems to have resonated, prompting School Board member Daniel Pearl to wonder, "If we go with more of a multiple school contract, do we turn the fact that we don't have a high school here from a deficit to an asset?"

Hooksett has 686 high school students, 401 of whom attend Manchester Central. Another 154 attend Manchester West, and 76 attend the private, Catholic Trinity High School. Smaller numbers attend other area public schools, including 18 at Pembroke, 10 at Pinkerton Academy in Derry and 6 at Bow.

The subcommittee has not officially identified any schools of interest at this time, as it has yet to meet. Schools that have been recently discussed by the board, however, include Pembroke Academy, Londonderry High School, Pinkerton Academy, Goffstown High School and Bow High School. The final two would be mutually exclusive as options, as New Boston debates whether to continue with Goffstown or move to Bow, potentially freeing space at the former or filling capacity at the latter.

Pinkerton is the only school prepared to accept all of Hooksett's students, according to Littlefield.

Subcommittee member Trisha Korkosz also noted that due to the large number of parents with strong feelings of loyalty and tradition to Central, Hooksett may attempt to pursue an agreement that would allow for a continuing relationship with Manchester.

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