In a high-turnout election on Tuesday, Hooksett voters defeated the town school board’s proposed high school contract with Pinkerton Academy and ousted pro-Pinkerton members of the board. Manchester Mayor Ted Gatsas said the vote showed that Hooksett was “satisfied” with Manchester’s schools. Not so fast.
The election showed that Hooksett voters did not like this particular contract, with its hour-long bus rides and rising tuition. If Manchester officials read into the vote more than that — such as the conclusion that Hooksett families are satisfied with Manchester schools — they will make a huge mistake.
Manchester’s mayor, school board and superintendent have made a great effort to begin the process of improving the city’s schools. But much work remains. Hooksett parents want results, not promises. If class sizes rise again, if test scores don’t improve, if behavior problems make news, if parents feel they have too little say in where their kids go and how their schools are run, Hooksett will walk.
The traditional ties and emotional bonds between Hooksett and Manchester’s high schools are strong. But if the parents lose confidence in Manchester schools, they will sever those ties. Hooksett has given Manchester a second chance. But the city can still blow it.