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Headmaster: Accepting more towns could slow Pinkerton enrollment decline

Union Leader Correspondent

November 12. 2013 12:36AM

DERRY — Headmaster Mary Anderson discussed the possible ramifications of declining enrollment at Pinkerton Academy during a meeting with the Board of Trustees on Thursday.

The scenario she presented was based on the school continuing with four sending towns — Auburn, Chester, Derry and Hampstead. Anderson didn't, however, discuss the possibility of Hooksett becoming a new sending town, said Chip Underhill, the school's executive director of public affairs.

The projections show that unless new sending towns are added, the trend of declining enrollment will continue in coming years, Underhill said.

Hooksett has agreed to enter into contract negotiations with Pinkerton to send most of the district's high school students there starting next September. If Hooksett reaches an agreement with Pinkerton, it would become the fifth sending town.

Enrollment reports provided by Pinkerton to the New Hampshire Department of Education show that enrollment has dropped from 3,392 students in 2005-06 to 3,014 for the 2013-14 school year.

Enrollment projections show that enrollment will increase slightly for the 2014-15 school year to 3,030 students. Enrollment will then decrease over the next five years and decline to 2,489 by the 2019-20 school year, the projections from the New Hampshire School Superintendents Association show.

While enrollment has decreased in recent years, the cost per pupil has risen, according to tuition records. The cost per pupil rose from $10,467.50 in 2009-10 to $11,310.94 for the 2011-2012 school year, the records show.

If enrollment drops, there will be fewer course offerings and, in turn, fewer academic opportunities for students, Anderson told trustees. Class size would also be reduced, especially for AP & Honors, Arts, and Career and Technical Education courses.

Anderson's presentation concluded with the statement that stable enrollment is the key for offering the most opportunity for all students.

Stable enrollment equates to the best control of program opportunity and tuition costs for taxpayers, parents and families, she said. Also during the meeting, an update was presented on the search to replace Anderson, who is retiring at the end of the 2014 school year.

The search began after Anderson said in the spring that she would be retiring at the end of the 2014 school year, marking nearly four decades at the academy.

Consultants for the executive search firm Carney, Sandoe & Associates continued interviewing candidates during the fall.

Plans call for the Board of Trustees search committee to select the semifinalists and begin the interview process during the winter. The committee will then select finalists, who will be invited to come to the campus.

The committee and the full Board of Trustees will then make the hiring decision.

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