Hooksett school board workshop cancelled after two members leave
HOOKSETT — The Hooksett School Board Tuesday night was forced to abruptly postpone a workshop to discuss how the town will end its high school contract with Manchester, after two board members refused to attend.
David Pearl and John Lyscars appeared separately at the Crawley Middle School media center about 30 minutes after the scheduled 4 p.m. start of the meeting. Both Pearl and Lyscars asked board chair Trisha Korkosz if she intended to apologize for ignoring a motion to extend Monday night’s regular school board meeting and pounding her gavel to adjourn without a vote.
Korkosz told both Pearl and Lyscars that a vote of three-fifths of the board was required to extend a meeting. An unexpected resignation has left the Hooksett board with four members who divide equally on most issues.
Korkosz said because the three-fifths vote was impossible, it was up to her, as chair, to adjourn the meeting. Both Pearl and Lyscars said they would not be attending the workshop and left.
Friction among Hooksett school officials has increased over the past several months and the board has been unable to move forward with a slate of issues including scheduling a community meeting to discuss the town’s high school contract with Manchester and filling the empty seat on the board.
Parents and members of the community have asked the board stop bickering, but so far they have been unable to put aside their differences.
After Pearl and Lyscars left, Korkosz, who apparently knew ahead of time what to expect, said she was advised by the board’s attorney to wait until 5 p.m. and then cancel the meeting due to the lack of a quorum. Korkosz began chatting with school board member Cheryl Akstin and Superintendent Charles Littlefield as they waited for the clock to tick down.
But their conversation was interrupted by Kathy O’Hara, the only parent and member of the community who showed up to attend the workshop.
O’Hara asked the Korkosz and Akstin if they had any plans or ideas on how to solve the board’s problems.
“I think the community is so devastated by what’s happening here on the school board,” she said.
O’Hara, who is one of four candidates vying for the vacant school board seat, said Hooksett’s school schools and students are facing some significant challenges.
If the claim that Manchester has breached the high school contract by placing students in overcrowded classrooms succeeds, Hooksett must have other options for its high school students by September 2014.
If that claim is shot down, Hooksett must decide when and how it plans to withdraw from its agreement with Manchester.
“We are getting children coming out of the eighth grade who are phenomenal,” said O’Hara. “Why don’t we work to make their next step phenomenal?”
O’Hara acknowledged there have been problems on both sides of the school board divide, but added Hooksett can’t afford to continue to squabble away any more time.
“Everyone has the same goals,” she said. “Everyone cares about our children. You have to forget about what happened in the past and focus on the children.”
O’Hara appealed to Littlefield to intercede and help the board find a way to work together.
Littlefield said it would take some work to mend the fractured board.
“It’s difficult to do the public’s business in public,” he said adding that it would require time, trust and a willingness on the part of all board members to resolve their problems and move forward.
“I will give whatever time, effort and energy is needed to do that,” he said.