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Hooksett's rush: A careless dash from Manchester

December 18. 2013 7:38PM

Oh, the irony. One year and 12 days after the Hooksett School Board voted to hold Manchester in breach of the school tuition contract, it voted to approve a new contract with Pinkerton Academy — a contract that appears to be in violation of Hooksett's agreement with Manchester. And the irony does not end there.

In the long-simmering conflict that led to that Dec. 4, 2012, vote, Hooksett school board members and some parents complained that Manchester school officials ignored the concerns of Hooksett parents and elected officials. And yet this week the Hooksett School Board voted to begin sending Hooksett high-schoolers to Derry — against the wishes of large numbers of Hooksett parents and students who want to continue the relationship with Manchester.

We get the frustrations of the Hooksett contingent that wants to switch to Pinkerton. This newspaper has been critical of the way Manchester has handled the town's concerns in the past. Though the impatience is understandable, it remains counterproductive.

Manchester's attitude has improved tremendously, and the city has undertaken some bold initiatives to improve the quality of education in the city. Hooksett may never have been in as strong a negotiating position with Manchester. And the future of Manchester high school education looks more promising than it has looked in a long time. To leave now in a pique is to squander a tremendous opportunity.

Leaving so quickly for Pinkerton also puts the town in legal jeopardy, as the contract with Manchester (signed only a few months ago) requires Hooksett to renegotiate in good faith with the city. It is hard to see how that clause is not violated by a contract that sends 75 percent of Hooksett students to Pinkerton for the next five years, and 90 percent after that.

This newspaper's reporting has shown that many, if not most, Hooksett parents would prefer to send their children to Manchester high schools. Their desires were ignored by three members of Hooksett's school board who seemed obsessed with switching to Pinkerton at any cost —including the expense and inconvenience incurred by families who will have to get their kids to and from a school that sits a troublesome 25 minutes away.

Before they vote on this contract in March, Hooksett voters have a lot to ponder, including whether their school board is really acting in their own best interest.

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