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School options: Blossoming in Candia, Hooksett

For years, parents and school board members in Candia and Hooksett have considered their position relative to Manchester parents disadvantageous. Now, the positions are reversed.

Candia and Hooksett public school students attend Manchester high schools, per a tuition contract. The contract did not give either town a vote on Manchester's Board of School Committee. Parents in both towns often complained that their concerns were not taken seriously by city school officials. They felt taken for granted, marginalized by a multi-year contract that denied them a vote on how the high schools attended by their children were run.

This year, the reversal of fortunes has been dramatic. After Manchester schools laid off more than 100 teachers, some class sizes rose to levels that exceeded state standards. Parents and school officials in Candia and Hooksett said that violated the tuition contract. Many began demanding that Manchester either fix the problem immediately or let them out of the contract. Then something predictable happened.

Other nearby towns started hinting that their high schools might be available for Hooksett and Candia students. Hints turned into offers. Suddenly, Candia and Hooksett parents are being presented with options. They could end up with multiple tuition contracts, giving parents the ability to pick the area high school that best suits their child's needs.

Manchester parents do not find themselves in such an enviable position. There is no good reason for that. No child should be stuck in an ill-fitting school just because it is the closest one. All families should have the options competition provides.

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