HOOKSETT — After signing a 10-year sending contract with Pinkerton Academy that calls for a minimum of 75 Hooksett students to attend per freshman class for the next five years, at least one Hooksett school board member is concerned that a criteria doesn't exist to figure out what would happen if 75 local students don't want to go to Pinkerton.
Board Vice-chairman David Pearl said he is unhappy that the board has not determined whether some students would be forced to attend Pinkerton should 75 students not willingly sign up to go there.
"At (Tuesday's) board meeting I tried to get the board to engage in a criteria on how to get the 75 kids if not enough sign up, but got nowhere. The board had no ideas, so Superintendent (Charles) Littlefield said that if it becomes a problem, he would bring it back to the board," Pearl said. "He said he doesn't have a process either. That could be very problematic."
Board Chairman Trisha Korkosz said that the only reason the criteria wasn't addressed during Tuesday's meeting was due to the snowstorm.
"There was no other reason, I just wanted to get people out as quickly as possible," Korkosz said.
She added that the board has every intention of creating a path to address the matter.
"It is definitely something that is on our agenda," Korkosz said.
Pearl said waiting on addressing the matter is a bad idea.
"As far I can tell the board is just hoping this doesn't become an issue, well I hope that too, but we can't tell parents how this is going to happen. If we come up short of 75, I don't know who we are going to pick, so I think this could create a lot of doubt now with parents who thought they had the issue figured out," Pearl said.
Pearl said that part of his concern with the situation stems from a lack of communication with Korkosz.
"My frustration is that I have to talk to the press to get action on this because the chair doesn't talk to me, but will talk to the press, and I don't hold it against the press, but as a board member that bothers me, so at this point I have to communicate through the Union Leader," Pearl said.
Along with approving a 10-year sending contract, the Hooksett School Board also approved a one-year enrollment agreement that, according to Pinkerton officials, would serve as a bridge should Hooksett residents vote against the Pinkerton contract in March. Unlike the sending contract, the enrollment agreement would not have to be approved by Hooksett residents, but it would still call for a minimum of 75 students of the incoming freshman class to attend.
"The decision by the Hooksett School Board allows the districts' families to consider attending Pinkerton next year and it also allows Hooksett students to start planning for the fall," said Headmaster Mary Anderson.
According to Chip Underhill of Pinkerton Academy, even if the one-year enrollment agreement kicks in, Hooksett students who have attended Pinkerton will not be required to finish their high school careers there.
"This (enrollment agreement) is meant as a bridge in the event the long-term tuition agreement is not approved by Hooksett voters in March," Underhill said.
While Korkosz has previously said that Pinkerton is the best option for Hooksett, Anderson said, Hooksett's presence will be important to Pinkerton as well.
The course catalog will be distributed in early January and course signups take place through mid-month, Anderson said. Also, the high school's Eighth Grade Preview Night is offered Jan. 6 and 7, where families receive an overview of the Pinkerton program of studies.