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December 10. 2013 10:16PM

Progress reported in Pinkerton-Hooksett high school deal

DERRY — Pinkerton Academy's Board of Trustees are working on the final language of a 10-year school sending contract with Hooksett.

"I hope that a contract is ready for the board to vote on the 17th," Hooksett School Superintendent Charles Littlefield said Tuesday.

The two boards didn't take a vote during a public meeting Monday night, but it was agreed that Pinkerton would clarify contract wording related to the transition period during which Hooksett students can attend other high schools.

"It was a very productive meeting, Hooksett School Board Chairman Trisha Korkosz said. "All indications are we should have a contract to vote on next Tuesday."

Pinkerton had stipulated that at least 75 students per class attend Pinkerton for the first four years of the contract. Monday night, Pinkerton agreed to extend that period to five years. For the remaining years of the contract, 10 percent of each class would be allowed to attend other high schools.

Pinkerton also agreed to clarify language relating to the 10 percent rule and whether it applies to the freshman class or the entire school population.

During the meeting, Hooksett board members John Lyscars and David Pearl said the 10 percent rule is difficult for many in the community to accept. Pearl asked if Pinkerton would be willing to deviate from the 10 percent.

Harry Burnham, president of Pinkerton's board, said Pinkerton can't deviate from that figure since it has contracts with other school districts. If a change were made for Hooksett, the other agreements would also have to be changed, he said.

At one point, the Hooksett board members took a vote to decide whether to continue on with the negotiations. The board voted 3-2 to continue the process, with Lyscars and Pearl voting in opposition.

The two parties have until the second week of January to agree to a contract so that it can be placed on a warrant article for voter approval in March. If the changes can be made and the contract is approved by the school board, Korkosz said she is confident a warrant article could be ready for voters in March.

Currently, most of Hooksett's 600 high school students attend Manchester schools; some attend Londonderry High and Pinkerton. Hooksett is also involved in contract negotiations with Londonderry, Bow and Pembroke.

On Tuesday, Pearl expressed his frustration at how long the process has taken, adding it must be taking a toll on Hooksett parents and students.

"Going by what I have been told, we have heard loud and clear that residents want a decision," he said. "At first when this joint meeting was proposed, I was not thrilled with it, but then I started to think, well at least Monday night we will have that closure for the parents, like it or not. And that did not happen. I can only imagine this will increase parents' frustration, because this is not closure."

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Union Leader Correspondent Ben Klein contributed to this report.

bklein@newstote.comhmcgee@newstote.com


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