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Hooksett parents want to end school pact with city

HOOKSETT — Despite Manchester Mayor Ted Gastas’ belief that the majority of Hooksett schoolchildren will not leave Manchester, many Hooksett officials and parents are equally confident they will.

Hooksett and Manchester recently reached an agreement that will terminate the contract between the two districts in 2014 instead of 2018. The agreement will settle Hooksett’s breach of service claim against Manchester and Manchester’s injunction against Hooksett.

“I think as a community we will end up with a different sending district,” Hooksett School Board Chairman Trisha Korkosz said.

While Korkosz acknowledged that some Hooksett parents still want to send their children to Manchester, she said she believes the majority wants to leave.

“(Manchester) needs to focus on their issues, like class size and their educational system as a whole,” Korkosz said.

For many parents of Hooksett children, the agreement between the two districts can’t end soon enough, according to conversations with parents.

“I don’t think we will go back, and after what I have experienced with my oldest, I would not let my dog go to Manchester schools. With the all the rest of my kids, I don’t care how much I would have to pay; no matter what, they won’t go to Manchester,” Hooksett resident Tammy Arrigo said.

With a daughter at Central High School, Arrigo called her family’s experience with Manchester a nightmare.

“No toilet paper in the bathroom, kids sitting on the floor because of large classes, and there are lots of other problems. I don’t have a good word to say about (Manchester),” Arrigo said.

Hooksett resident Cathy Dionne, who has a daughter at West High School, agreed that not only does she not want Hooksett to enter into a new contract with Manchester, but she doesn’t want her youngest child to attend Manchester schools either.

“I don’t think that is going to happen, no. I don’t want to send my younger son to a Manchester school based upon the experiences I have had with my oldest,” Dionne said.

One of the main reasons Dionne said she doesn’t want another child in Manchester schools is the violence that occurs there.

“There (are) a lot of fights that break out around the school, a lot of gang activity that goes on in the area that I am not comfortable with. I would prefer it if Hooksett looked elsewhere for education options,” Dionne said.

Stacie Berry has three children in the district, and one of the reasons she said she would like to see Hooksett end its relationship with Manchester is due to Manchester’s inability to offer quality education to children of varying levels.

“Manchester struggles offering positive education experiences to kids of varying levels; there are other options like Pinkerton who would do a better job of that,” Berry said.

Still, Korkosz and many parents acknowledged that due to the 120-year relationship between the two districts, many parents in Hooksett continue to want to send their children to Manchester schools.

“I think that a lot of parents do want their kids to go to Manchester, and I think Hooksett should keep that line open for them,” Dionne said.

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