Hooksett school board reassures parents, stands firm on high school reassignments
HOOKSETT - Members of the Hooksett School Board Tuesday night assured parents of children whose students had been accepted to high schools outside the Manchester School District that "nothing was different" after the city issued Hooksett a letter demanding the students be reassigned to Manchester.
The board approved eight more such out-of-district placements Tuesday night.
Hooksett formally declared in December that the Manchester School District was in breach of contract with the town, largely due to classroom overcrowding. A number of parents decided to send their students to other districts in the months prior and since the letter - mostly to Pinkerton Academy and Londonderry High School.
On Feb. 15, a letter signed by Manchester Superintendent of Schools Dr. Thomas Brennan was issued to Hooksett denying that the city was in breach. The letter also contended that Hooksett was in breach due to the number of students who had been allowed to attend schools outside the Manchester School District.
The letter went on to demand that the approval of these placements be rescinded, and that these students be reassigned to Manchester schools.
The letter was outraged many parents in Hooksett.
"Manchester has once again publicly bullied our town. They have once again bullied the children of Hooksett. The letter sent by Mr. Brennan ... is another attempt to bully our town into accepting the underfunded education that they provide the Hooksett children," said parent Stacie Berry
"If the mayor would stay off the Rich Girard show, which is a voice-box for the mayor, and focus on the children of Manchester and Hooksett, he would have less things to worry about," said parent and school board candidate John Lyscars.
He called the Brennan letter "not even factually correct, not even quoting the contract that we're following."
Berry asked the board for clarification on what the letter meant for the children who had already been accepted to other schools.
"How can we assure as parents our children who have now chosen their courses of study, bought sweatshirts and T-shirts from the schools that they were approved to and begun to develop pride in that they have nothing to worry about?" she said.
The board assured the public that the letter changes nothing.
"I don't think that the letter in any way affects my vote about children attending other schools. This school board has taken no policy change. There is no difference since the letter has been sent, so I don't believe the letter affects children attending other schools at all," said school board member David Pearl.
Board Chairman Trisha Korkosz agreed.
The board voted to approve eight requests for students to attend schools outside of Manchester - seven to Londonderry High School and one to Pinkerton Academy.
The Hooksett board also voted Tuesday evening to send a letter to the Manchester School District notifying them of the town board's disapproval of a redistricting plan unanimously approved by Manchester's curriculum and instruction committee and the building and sites committees and set to appear before the full board in coming weeks.
The plan for the 2014-2015 school year would consolidate the district from three to two high schools, closing Manchester High School West.
"I think it's very clear by the contract that currently we have a requirement that allows us to send students to West, and that we are supposed to take part in those kinds of discussions," Pearl said.