HOOKSETT — The Hooksett School District has sent a letter to Manchester officials telling them that it estimates that 74 incoming freshmen are expected to attend Manchester high schools next year.
Hooksett officials hope the notification will end the possibility of Manchester suing them for violating the settlement the two districts negotiated last summer to prematurely terminate the districts’ sending contract
Board Chairman Trisha Korkosz said that Superintendent Charles Littlefield performed a student poll early this month to determine how many freshmen plan to attend Manchester schools next year.
In the letter sent to Manchester, Littlefield said that it is Hooksett’s understanding that the final number of freshmen attending is not due until March 31, 2014.
“This should make Manchester happy, and hopefully remove the threat of a lawsuit,” Korkosz said.
Attorney James O’Shaughnessy sent a letter to the Hooksett School Board earlier this month advising it that the Manchester School District has given him authority to seek any legal means necessary should the district continue to not provide an estimate for how many students would attend Manchester schools next year.
However, prior to the letter being sent, Manchester Mayor Ted Gatsas said that the letter was being sent as a reaction to the Hooksett School Board agreeing to a 10-year sending contract with Pinkerton Academy in Derry, which he said also constituted a violation of the settlement.
Korkosz said that she was surprised Manchester sent the letter in the first place, as she and Littlefield were under the impression that Littlefield had provided an estimate to Manchester in a phone conversation with Manchester Superintendent Debra Livingston early this month.
“On December 2, 2013, you and I had a conversation about the estimate, and you did not indicate any issues surrounding that conversation as it relates to the estimate,” Littlefield wrote to Livingston.
However, board member David Pearl said that as a whole the board has never come to the conclusion that Littlefield had provided an estimate, and fellow school board member John Lyscars has said in the past that he favors Manchester’s interpretation of the situation over the majority of the school board and that he wouldn’t be surprised if Manchester sued Hooksett.
Since the settlement was approved, Pearl has stated his concern with the language in the settlement and that Manchester could sue regarding negotiations with Pinkerton.
“All of this stuff with Manchester will have no bearing on what is going on with Pinkerton,” Korkosz said.
According to the settlement, Hooksett must enter into good faith negotiations with Manchester on a new sending contract by 2016.
“I still maintain that we will have a relationship with Manchester, and that we can negotiate in good faith,” Korkosz said.
Korkosz said that the district asked its attorney, Gordon Graham, to solicit an opinion from O’Shaughnessy, and in a letter to the School Board, Graham states that O’Shaughnessy agreed that Hooksett entering into Pinkerton negotiations would not violate the settlement.
The settlement, which was reached this summer during court-ordered mediation, settled Manchester’s injunction against Hooksett and Hooksett’s breach of claim against Manchester. It also ended Hooksett and Manchester’s 20-year sending contract four years early at the conclusion of the current school year.