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Hooksett board wants to hear from residents on failed Pinkerton deal

HOOKSETT — School Board members hope to finally learn the reasons behind voters’ rejection in March of a 10-year contract with Pinkerton.

The board will host a public forum at Cawley Middle School at 7 p.m. Monday. Superintendent Charles Littlefield said all citizens, parents or not, are encouraged to attend.

“The board is interested to hear why they voted pro or con on the (Pinkerton contract) warrant article,” he said. “They know what the numbers were, but they’re not totally sure what those numbers mean, so they’re trying to get a sense of what those voters were thinking.”

Board members Todd Lizotte and John Lyscars proposed two options to their peers. The first option provided a basic format allowing residents to sound off on their reasons for or against the proposal.

The other suggestion entailed providing a number of boxes with various factors why the electorate may have voted against the deal and allowing voters to drop anonymous tickets in the boxes they felt best represented their reasoning

The school board decided on a hybrid of the two suggestions.

“Citizens will be able to address the board on the reasons they voted one way or another, but the board is also going to provide a comment box for people to submit an unsigned written statement as to why they voted the way they did,” said Littlefield.

Lyscars said while he’s eager to hear some of the reasons why 56 percent of Hooksett’s voters rejected the original Pinkerton deal, he’s not convinced the forum will provide a concrete answer.

“I believe that the forum is simply a way to engage the Hooksett citizens before the board makes any major decisions regarding high schools,” he said. “Last year, public forums like this were canceled or postponed until after major decisions were made, which is not how a representative government should work with its citizens.”

Moving forward

The forum, added Littlefield, is one big piece of a much larger puzzle in determining the future for Hooksett high school students.

Many options are still on the table, including an extension to the current Pinkerton tuition agreement; another long-term contract proposal with Pinkerton Academy or Manchester; building a high school in Hooksett; and/or providing open choice for Hooksett students through a handful of memorandums of understanding with other districts, such as Manchester, Derry, Londonderry, Bow and Pembroke.

“I think the board is going to spend some more time on information gathering and data gathering at their (May 6) meeting as they begin to formulate a high school plan,” said Littlefield. “I get the sense from the board that they’re going to devote as much time to the development of a plan as is necessary, and if they need to schedule additional meetings or special meetings to accomplish that, then that’s what they’ll do.”

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