DERRY — Because Hooksett will be sending students to Pinkerton Academy next year, enrollment will increase and tuition will in turn be lowered for the 2014-15 school year, according to Pinkerton administrators.
Tuition is projected to drop by $140.68 per student from the rate the school announced in December, said Chip Underhill, executive director of public relations and external affairs for the high school.
Hooksett has signed a 1-year agreement with Pinkerton to send its students to the high school, and 107 eighth-graders from the town are scheduled to attend next year as freshmen, according to Pinkerton administrators.
Underhill explained Thursday how the high school was able to lower projected tuition.
At Pinkerton's recent annual winter meeting with partner schools, Superintendent Phil Littlefield announced the number of Hooksett students who will attend Pinkerton next year, Underhill said. This prompted Derry School Board member Dan McKenna to ask that the trustees reconsider next year's tuition, since the tuition originally announced for 2014-15 was based on an expected decrease in enrollment of 40 students.
This left just enough time for the trustees to convene, discuss and approve the request and recalculate tuition, Underhill said. Also, the new information could be released to each school district's administration before school district deliberative sessions and public hearings are held.Pinkerton was contractually obligated to give districts a written good faith estimate of the tuition rate in December for next school year; enrollment from Hooksett was not available at that time, however, Underhill said.The new tuition rate for 2014-15 will be $10,656.15 per student, which is a decrease of $140.68 per student from the rate announced in December. This new tuition figure is 3.5 percent over the current school year, Underhill said.To reach the lower figure, Pinkerton added 40 students to projected enrollment.
"To be fiscally prudent, we did not use a higher enrollment number as there are still unknowns to consider," Underhill said.
The unknowns include the effect of the new Granite State Arts Academy, which is scheduled to open with 160 students in Derry next fall, Underhill said.
"We do not know if any of those students will choose it over Pinkerton," Underhill said. "Also, we are currently registering students from all districts and arranging their course selections. This could create incremental cost for a few additional teaching positions."
At the end of the school year, following an audit, it is possible Pinkerton will issue a refund to each partner school district — as it has done for 12 of the last 13 years, Underhill said, adding, "We certainly hope to do that; we do not simply spend what is budgeted, preferring to return unused funds to taxpayers."