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April 25. 2013 1:40PM

Dunbarton waits to hear if Goffstown will allow early enrollment in Bow

The chairman of the Dunbarton School Board said he’s been trying to schedule a meeting with the Goffstown School Board to work out an agreement whereby Dunbarton students now enrolled at Mountain View Middle School could attend Bow schools sooner than 2014, when the Authorized Regional Enrollment Agreement between Goffstown and Dunbarton is set to expire.

“There’s some urgency to getting this done,” said Rene Ouellet. “We had hoped we’d have an agreement in principle by the middle of May, so we don’t have much time.”

Under the plan envisioned by Dunbarton, some current eighth-graders would be allowed to enroll at Bow High School in September while other Dunbarton students currently enrolled in Goffstown schools could stay at Goffstown High beyond 2014 if they wish.

The idea has been endorsed by the president of the Dunbarton Parent-Teacher Organization, Shelley Westenberg, who said it would minimize the disruptions students will feel when Dunbarton leaves its 40-year-old AREA agreement with Goffstown to enter into a new agreement with Bow next year.

The idea behind the plan is to avoid Dunbarton students from having to attend two schools in two different districts in a two-year span. Under the proposal, Dunbarton students could choose early enrollment in Bow schools so they could establish friendships and peer connections with Bow students before transitioning to Bow High. But in order for the proposal to go forward, Goffstown would have to agree.

“I’ve been calling and sending emails every week, and we’ve heard back a number of times but we still don’t have a date” for a meeting to discuss the proposal, Ouellet said.
Ouellet was hoping to be able to bring a proposal forward to his school board when they meet on May 1. The full Goffstown board isn’t scheduled to meet until May 6.

The idea was first brought up earlier this month when dozens of Dunbarton parents attended a meeting of the Dunbarton School Board and requested that Dunbarton make a request of Goffstown for what has been dubbed the “choice option.” The PTO’s Westenberg acknowledged that “none of this will happen without Goffstown’s blessing,” adding that she could understand if Goffstown “didn’t feel like accommodating” Dunbarton.

Westenberg and Ouellet said that Bow has expressed a willingness to accept Dunbarton students earlier than 2014 if an agreement between the three communities can be worked out before September.

When Dunbarton residents voted in March to end their 40-year AREA agreement with Goffstown and enter into a new agreement with Bow, it was a development unprecedented in the history of New Hampshire AREA agreements, with several local officials from both communities characterizing it as “uncharted territory.”

In recent years, Goffstown – as a receiving community – has received approximately $2 million in revenue annually from Dunbarton. That money will not be revenue that Goffs-town can count on after 2014.

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