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Goffstown school officials seek agreement with Dunbarton, New Boston

GOFFSTOWN - School officials held a public hearing Monday to highlight proposed changes to the district's Authorized Regional Enrollment Area (AREA) agreement with Dunbarton and New Boston that ends in 2014.

Currently, students in grades 7 through 12 attend classes at Mountain View Middle School and Goffstown High School.

While New Boston, which sends about 400 students to Goffstown, is not actively pursuing a partnership with another district, Dunbarton, which sends fewer than 200, has formed a feasibility study to partner with the Bow school district.

According to information provided at the hearing, if Dunbarton voters opt not to renew the AREA agreement, Goffstown's total costs could increase by $1.5 million, and could cost New Boston an additional $604,000.

A committee is in the process of writing a new agreement to replace the one that ends on June 30, 2014.

According to School Board Chairman Philip Pancoast, all three towns must approve the new AREA agreement.

If Dunbarton residents vote against it in March, 'there is some question as to what will happen,' Pancoast said.

While the New Boston School Board is not actively seeking a partnership with a new district, Pancoast said it is focusing on the operation of the Goffstown School district, the collection of data that addresses the district's performance and the process for resolving issues and concerns.

'They are focused on the operational piece of what goes on in the Goffstown school district,' he said.

Two issues that have not been fully addressed in the revised agreement surround the rental charges and tuition paid to Goffstown by the sending districts, including how charges for SAU services are divided among the three towns.

In New Boston paid Goffstown $4,422,711 in tuition and $203,965 in rental charges to Goffstown.

Dunbarton paid $2,157,579 in tuition and $100,077 in rental charges, and both could be re-negotiated in the new agreement.

Another proposed addition to the agreement involves allowing representatives from the sending towns to have a vote on the Goffstown School Board's subcommittees, which Pancoast said is reasonable.

'The real work that's occurring in much of the decision-making is done in these subcommittees and brought to the larger group,' he said.

Goffstown School Board member Keith Allard said state statute does not permit non-residents to have a voting seat on the School Board.

One concern, brought up by Dunbarton parent Lori Wamser, is whether Dunbarton students will be phased out of Goffstown High School after 2014.

In the current agreement, the sending towns can request that existing students be permitted to graduate. Goffstown is seeking to amend that provision by giving its school board equal weight in making that decision.

'I feel bad for that sophomore or junior in 2014,' said Anne Carney of Dunbarton.

Pancoast reminded the audience that the information presented was proposed, and no decisions have been made yet.

Pancoast said the differences among the three towns aren't insurmountable.

'What separates us is relatively small,' he said.

Pancoast said that over the past 30 years, the three towns have established a good working relationship.

'We've worked collaboratively and collectively for the good of students,' he said.

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