HOOKSETT — Despite the looming possibility of legal action from the Manchester School District, the Hooksett School Board on Tuesday night voted, 3-2, to approve a proposed 10-year high school sending contract with Pinkerton Academy.
Board members Trisha Korkosz, Phil Denbow and Cheryl Akstin voted for the contract while board members David Pearl and John Lyscars voted against it. During the vote, Lyscars screamed at the top of his lungs that he must speak for the children of Hooksett. It was not the only outburst by Lyscars during the meeting.
When resident Mark Messina spoke during the public comment portion before the meeting, a large portion of which was directed toward the behavior of Lyscars on social media, Lyscars held up a drawing of a pink winking smiley face. Messina was not the only resident to speak out against Lyscars, and during each instance Lyscars held up the picture of the smiley face.
When asked by a resident what the pink drawing meant, Lyscars said: "What these individuals have promoted is that they are angelic figures. These (residents) have provoked me since I became a member of this board, so the sign basically is a smile and a wink to the people who think they are kidding people into thinking John Lyscars is crazy, a whack job."
Now that the board has voted for the contract, the next step for Hooksett is to present the proposal to voters in March. The Pinkerton Academy board of trustees has not yet voted on the contract, Superintendent Charles Littlefield said.
Meanwhile, Manchester Mayor Ted Gatsas said: "(Hooksett negotiating with Pinkerton) is a breach of the settlement (Hooksett and Manchester) negotiated in June. I think that there is a 100-year relationship between the two districts, and we tried to work out a deal in June that worked for the children of both districts. However, the Manchester School Board feels Hooksett is in violation of that settlement."
Gastas said the decision to pursue a breach claim against Hooksett was the will of the Manchester Board of School Committee.
"I can't do anything on my own; this is the will of the board," Gastas said.
Hooksett and Manchester reached a settlement this summer during court-ordered mediation sessions to settle Manchester's injunction claim against Hooksett and Hooksett's breach claim against Manchester. According to the terms of the settlement, which included $200,000 going to Manchester, Hooksett must enter into negotiations with Manchester on a new sending contract by 2016.
Pearl said that while he respects Pinkerton Academy, he feels that everything involving Pinkerton has been done far too quickly.
"We should have done this a lot earlier and done a better job of bringing in the public. The reason I cannot vote for this is because of the process. Are we leaving Manchester or are we not? We have not set a plan, and I don't think this is the proper way to make long-term plans." Pearl said.
Littlefield said that under the terms of the contract, from 2014 to the 2018-2019 school year a minimum of 75 percent of each class from Hooksett must attend Pinkerton. For the rest of the life of the deal, 90 percent of Hooksett students must attend Pinkerton. The contract is for 10 years, which is the minimum length required by the state Board of Education for tuition contracts."When you go into a negotiation, you don't get everything you want, but I feel it is our duty to put this before the voters," Denbow said.