Manchester, Hooksett working to resolve school contract issues
By BENJAMIN C. KLEIN Union Leader Correspondent and TED SIEFER New Hampshire Union Leader
After concluding the second of two court-ordered mediation sessions on the Manchester School District’s injunction claim against the Hooksett School District Wednesday night, Hooksett School district officials are considering asking for a continuance of court proceedings to allow the sessions to continue.
Hooksett School Board Chair Trisha Korkosz said that the sessions have begun to pick up steam, with the session Wednesday lasting nearly 10 hours.
“I would classify the sessions as being productive, I am hopeful that this will result in a better result for both parties than going to court. But it is still too early to tell, however, if the relationship between the two sides has been healed at all,” Korkosz said.
Both Hooksett and Candia have charged that conditions in Manchester schools, in particular crowded classes, violate the contract under which they send their high school students to city schools.
Both towns have allowed some parents to leave the Manchester district, but the Hooksett School Board has authorized a far greater number to leave. This has prompted the district to file an injunction against Hooksett, accusing it of violating the contract, which calls on the towns to send “all” their students to the district.
A special meeting of the Manchester Board of School Committee to discuss the ongoing dispute with Hooksett had been scheduled for today, but was postponed and will likely be held early next week.
Mayor Ted Gatsas said Wednesday night he doesn’t think that mediation has yielded a breakthrough at this point, but he wanted to bring the board into the discussion. “I think the board needs to have a conversation about where we want to see this go and what are the options on the table,” he said.
Both Gatsas and Superintendent Debra Livingston declined to comment further due to the confidential nature of the litigation.
Korkosz said Hooksett’s breach of contract claim against Manchester is also on the table for discussion.
“It is my personal hope that everything is solved through mediation, including the breach claim,” Korkosz said.
She said that more information would be given to the public during the next Hooksett School Board meeting on July 30.
The mediation session Wednesday was attended by lawyers for both districts, Hooksett Superintendent Charles Littlefield, Korkosz, Manchester Schools Superintendent Livingston, and members of the Manchester Board of School Committee.