Goffstown asked for school choice by Dunbarton
DUNBARTON - School board members have been asked to approach their counterparts in Goffstown with a so-called "school choice option" for Dunbarton students currently enrolled in SAU 19.
Under the plan, Dunbarton students could enroll in Bow schools earlier than 2014 - when the current Authorized Regional Enrollment Agreement (AREA) with Goffstown is set to expire - or remain enrolled at Goffstown High beyond next year.
According to the president of the Dunbarton Parent-Teacher Organization, Shelley Westenberg, the plan is being proposed as a way to minimize the disruptions individual students will feel when Dunbarton leaves its 40-year-old AREA agreement with Goffstown and enters into a new agreement with Bow next year.
"I'm hoping that our school board can work it out with Goffstown," said Westenberg. "My feeling is that Goffstown would be lucky to keep kids from Dunbarton longer, but I also understand that they may not have such great feelings toward Dunbarton and wouldn't feel like accommodating them."
Under the AREA agreement with Goffstown, current Dunbarton eighth-graders - who would be 10th-graders in the 2014-15 academic year - would be allowed to finish their high school careers at Goffstown High. But under the school choice option being proposed, a current eighth-grader in Goffstown would be allowed to enroll at Bow High School next fall instead of in the fall of 2014.
Also, because current seventh-graders would enroll next fall at Mountain View Middle School in Goffstown before transferring to Bow High School the following September, the proposed choice option would allow those seventh-graders to enroll in Bow earlier than 2014 so they could forge friendships and establish peer connections before transitioning to high school, Westernberg said.
She acknowledged that "none of this will happen without Goffstown's blessing," adding that if Dunbarton parents are allowed to exercise the school choice option, they would have to provide their own transportation to Bow. Goffstown officials could not be reached for comment.
Goffstown will lose $2 million annually in revenue it receives from Dunbarton for tuition payments.
Westenberg said she conducted an informal survey of current sixth-grade parents from Dunbarton and found a "roughly even split" between those in favor of enrolling early in Bow and those in favor of staying longer in Goffstown.
The idea for the school choice option was raised by parents at last week's school board meeting in Dunbarton.
"The most disruptive scenario would be a student going to two schools in two different towns in a two-year span," said Westenberg. "I realize there are a lot of moving parts here, but we're hoping that something can be worked out."
The issue will likely be discussed when the SAU 19 board meets Tuesday in Goffstown. The SAU 19 board is made up of representatives from the Goffstown, Dunbarton and New Boston school boards.
Westenberg said her organization has been told by Bow officials that they would be "open to allow kids to start early" in Bow.