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September 19. 2012 12:23AM

Hooksett continues high school push

HOOKSETT — Despite improvements in easing crowded classrooms at Manchester Central High School, Hooksett is moving ahead and exploring other options for the town's high school students.

The School Board voted to ask Superintendent Charles Littlefield to draft a letter to Manchester school officials informing them, once again, that the Manchester district has breached its contract to provide Hooksett students with an education that meets state standards. The board also asked Littlefield to set a termination date.

Although the contract gives Manchester 180 days to resolve any issues that breach the contract, the letter will include wording that may allow the town to end its contract sooner. Littlefield has also started talking with other superintendents and schools in the area to find alternatives for Hooksett's students, and the town's new High School Assessment Committee, launched earlier this year to collect information about area high schools, will meet for the first time tonight.

Littlefield told board members and a roomful of parents that he had been visiting Manchester Central and talking with Superintendent Thomas Brennan who will be hiring two full-time teachers, and a part time Spanish teacher. Still classrooms are packed and some seniors have not been able to enroll in courses that are required for graduation.

“I visited classrooms, many of which had an excess of 30 students,” said Littlefield, who added he was also concerned about a lack of text books.

“I've seen tremendous progress, but I hope you agree with me that when I walk into a building I don't want to see more than 30 faces in a classroom,” he said.

However, because the Manchester School District is facing problems tied to a $10 million budget shortfall, Littlefield has also starting talking with other school districts.

“Londonderry has stepped forward and is willing to talk about accepting up to 200 students,” Littlefield said, adding that Hooksett has about 550 high school students.

Bow is currently negotiating a contract with Dunbarton to accept high school students from that town, and Littlefield did not think that would be an option. However, he said Goffstown had expressed an interested in discussing the idea.

The one school that could accommodate all of Hooksett's students is Pinkerton Academy in Derry, an option both Littlefield and parents at the meeting seemed to favor.

One possible problem is timing. Hooksett voters would have to approve a new contract with another district, and the contract issues with Manchester may not be resolved before the town elections in March.

School board member Trisha Korkosz said that a new school contract may require a special election. Korkosz was concerned about the possibility of the school board negotiating a new contract with another district only to have voters defeat it at the polls.

“There are all the people who sit at Robie's and Four Seasons and say Central was good enough for my kids, and then, it gets voted down,” said Korkosz. “I've sat in those places and those are the conversations happening in Hooksett among those populations.”

btaormina@newstote.com


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