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Hooksett eyes pursuing Pinkerton and Manchester school deals

HOOKSETT — As school board members eyed a one-year tuition agreement extension with Pinkerton Academy Tuesday night, it was the big picture they were focused on.

Board member John Lyscars suggested an agreement also be forged with the Manchester School District to promote healthy competition for Hooksett students, and to allow parents and students to pick the high school of their choice.

Mike Berry, who sits on the three-member high school negotiation subcommittee, said that idea would likely appeal to Hooksett residents, but must still be negotiated with Pinkerton and Manchester officials.

Board members also discussed aligning tuition costs with both Manchester and Pinkerton; encouraging the Derry school to push back its daily start time; and building in an opt-out clause should Hooksett decide to build its own high school.

It was agreed the high school negotiations subcommittee would present the school board’s ideas to both Pinkerton and Manchester officials for the purpose of negotiating a long-term contract with each district.

Earlier in the meeting, board member David Pearl said any agreement would have to address concerns expressed by residents after voters’ rejection of the previous 10-year proposal with Pinkerton — the length of the contract, minimum enrollment requirements and bus transportation time.

He also suggested a mutual opt-out clause for both sides.

“I think after the last vote, we really need to start thinking about this as putting together something that would pass on the ballot,” Pearl said.

Jim Sullivan agreed with Pearl that such an agreement would address many voters’ concerns, but suggested language be included to allow for a two-year contract extension.

The board agreed to continue the conversation at their next scheduled meeting on July 8.

Hooksett resident Kara Salvis encouraged school board members to continue with a long-term plan, but urged them to speed up the process.

“I don’t have an answer, and I don’t know what the right answer is, but I am begging that this board moves a little faster, asks some harder questions, makes some harder choices, some harder decisions,” Salvis said. “I think we’ve come to that point.”

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