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August 21. 2014 8:26PM

School board plan to move students draws opposition

DERRY — A decision by the school board to move an early education program and charter school to new sites this year has drawn opposition from a number of parents.

After the parents and other residents voiced their concerns at a school board meeting on Aug. 12, board members chose not to change their decision. A motion to rescind the decision by board member Dan McKenna failed to receive a second.

The move calls for relocating the Derry Early Education Program (DEEP) from Grinnell Elementary School because of an increase in student enrollment and additional space needs, according to school officials.

The program serves children ages 3-5 in the Derry Cooperative School District. DEEP will be moving to its former home in the Gilbert H. Hood Middle School, Superintendent of Schools Laura Nelson said

In addition, the Next Charter School, which currently occupies the former DEEP site, is relocating to West Running Brook Middle School to make room for the additional space needs of the preschool program, Nelson said.

School board members decided to make the moves in a meeting on July 18.

Parents who attended the meeting on Aug. 12 voiced opposition to the plan, saying it was hastily made and would disrupt a number of students.

Moving Next Charter School into West Running Brook Middle School would mean dozens of eighth- grade students will have to relocate elsewhere in the school, according to school officials.

Parent John Downing said he had concerns about the impact of moving the charter school students into the middle school.

“The issue for me is you’ve displaced kids from the eighth grade, and they are the ones paying the price for this decision,” Downing said.

Other parents said the decision to make the moves should be rescinded until a study of the school district’s space needs can be released in October.

But school board members said increases in students at Grinnell Elementary School and in the DEEP program required them to act.

School board member Jennifer Lague said the decision was made with the entire school district in mind.

“It’s about doing what’s right for DEEP; it’s about doing what’s right for Next,” she said. “It’s about doing right for every single kid who walks through these doors.”

School board chairman Neale Ochs said the board members made the best decision they could make, given the time constraints they were under. School is scheduled to start on Aug. 28.

“I think that this is the best decision that we made given the information that we had,” Ochs said.

hmcgee@newstote.com


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