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March 31. 2013 10:37PM

Candia school board has concerns with Manchester high schools

CANDIA - Manchester Mayor Ted Gatsas has accepted an invitation to attend the Candia School Board's next meeting, where the two sides will look for solutions to the high school issue which has strained their relationship since the school year began.

The Candia board hopes to receive an update on classroom overcrowding and finances, with the curriculum committee chairman and the finance committee chairman also having been invited to discuss these areas in detail.

The hope, however, is that the talk will move beyond a recap of the well-known and documented issues in the district, and begin a discussion on how to resolve them.

"We're looking for solutions," said school board vice chair Nicole LaFlamme. "And even though we know that this is a process and he's not going to have all the answers, it's going to be a discussion that is focused on a solution."

Manchester has struggled to maintain its relationship with Candia and Hooksett - the two towns that send students to city high schools by contract - as the city district suffers chronic classroom overcrowding due to funding and staffing deficiencies.

Hooksett has formally declared Manchester to be in breach of contract.

Candia, one-third the size of Hooksett, has shied away from such a course and its potentially significant financial burdens for the time being, preferring instead to place more indirect pressures on the city, such as a letter-writing campaign directed at various state officials.

LaFlamme has praised Gatsas for maintaining communication with the town on the issue

"One of the really great things with this situation is the lines of communication have stayed open," said LaFlamme. "Mayor Gatsas has been really great about that, about keeping communication open. We don't always agree, obviously, on every subject, but we're all working on it."

Also, with Manchester superintendent Dr. Thomas Brennan on his way out and no clear successor in sight, the meeting will help preserve continuity for these discussions..

"We love Dr. Brennan, we have a lot of respect for him, but he's moving on," said LaFlamme. "We'd rather have continuity in communication."

The meeting will be held on April 4 at 6 p.m. in the Media Center of the Moore School. Gatsas is not scheduled to arrive until approximately 7 p.m., due to a scheduling conflict.

Manchester has met with both Hooksett and Candia on the issue in the past, with limited success.

A joint meeting with Hooksett in November 2012 resulted in a civil, if ultimately unfruitful conversation.

A meeting with Candia in the city later that month, however, ended up inflaming the town when the meeting abruptly closed before public comment could be heard.

A second meeting with Hooksett in December was canceled by the city, with the breach notification cited as the reason.

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