HOOKSETT — Hooksett parents came out in force Tuesday to deliver a "no" stamp to the district's 10-year proposed contract with Pinkerton Academy.
In a turnout more than double that of 2013, voters cast their ballots and Article 3 failed by a vote of 1,026 to 792. The decision sends a seven-member school board — with only two incumbents — back to work in terms of an anchor high school for Hooksett students.
"It was a great turnout," incumbent school board member David Pearl said. "I think we're going to regroup, right off the bat, and I personally think we need to reevaluate our contract with Manchester, and then we need to look at our options. But the first thing we need to do is see where we stand with Manchester."
Because a one-year agreement is in place for next year, roughly 110 Hooksett students will still attend Pinkerton Academy in Derry. But the future beyond the 2014-15 school year is unclear.
"Right along I said we were going to bring the contract to the public and let the public decide, and that's what they decided," said outgoing school board chairman Trisha Korkosz, who lost her bid for another three-year seat. "I think the community thinks a 'no' vote will get them a better deal, and we'll see how that pans out for them."
The rejected deal would have sent the majority of Hooksett students to Derry at a cost of $10,800 per head. Years six through 10 of the contract mandated that 90 percent of Hooksett public high school students attend Pinkerton.
Jason Hyde, who ran an unsuccessful school board campaign, said he's been in favor of school choice all along."I'm glad it gives us the opportunity to look at why (the contract failed) and figure out if it was strictly a Pinkerton thing, or whether it was a contract thing or why it might have happened," he said. "Because now there's time to allow the kids who are going there to acclimate, to find out if they really like it. Who knows, maybe in a year or two, we come back to it, but this gives us the opportunity to do things differently than they were done the first time, which will be better for everybody."
"The school board has a lot of work to do," said Korkosz. "I wish them all the best. They don't know what they're getting themselves into."