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November 30. 2012 1:14AM

Londonderry High offers Hooksett potential classroom overcrowding solution

As Londonderry High School grapples with under-enrollment and Hooksett parents continue to voice concerns about overcrowding in Manchester's high schools, a tuition agreement may work to the benefit of both.

With Hooksett's attempt to negotiate out of the high school contract with Manchester stalled, some parents say they may have found a solution to the Manchester overcrowding issue at Londonderry High.

Londonderry High School has begun accepting Hooksett students at the same tuition rate the town pays Manchester.

Hooksett's student transfer policy allows parents to move their students from the Manchester School District to another district of their choosing, provided the student is accepted to their school of choice. Parents provide transportation and any tuition amount over what Hooksett pays Manchester.

Londonderry's offer to match the $8,400 per-student rate Hooksett pays to Manchester means that parents can send their children to the school essentially for free.

"We've always felt that the schools were going to be pretty competitive for our students, but at this point we haven't been able to get an official pulse or anything," said Hooksett School Board member David Pearl, who noted that he had not spoken with Londonderry officials directly but was responding instead to reports from parents. "This seems to be a sign of interest, and it's a great school."

The Londonderry district has also informed parents that should 50 Hooksett students attend the school, a bus could be utilized.

"We could facilitate a bus. We could not pay for the bus," said Londonderry Superintendent Nathan Greenberg. "The tuition costs don't cover transportation."

Greenberg noted that the tuition rate was not a special offer to Hooksett parents, saying that the offer to match rates has been given to all students transferring into the school.

Nevertheless, the district and Hooksett's High School Action subcommittee, created in early November to informally hash out details with area districts on a possible future contract, have been in contact.

"We had several people from the Hooksett committee visited Londonderry High several weeks ago," said Greenberg . "We had them tour the high school. We had them meet teachers and students, and then they met with administrators to talk about programs."

Whether the Manchester rates would find their way into a contract, however, is a question for negotiators.

"If in fact down the road there was a formal agreement with Hooksett, we would come to a figure at that time," said Greenberg. Another question the Londonderry option would have to grapple with is enrollment space.

"We could not take all of their students," said Greenberg. "(If a contract were to be signed) it would have to be for a portion of them."

Londonderry High School has a capacity of 2,100 students, with 1,827 enrolled. Hooksett currently has 686 high school students.

The Hooksett School Board will hold its next regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 4, at 6:30 p.m. in the Cawley Middle School Media Center.


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