HOOKSETT — If the Hooksett School District gets out of its high school contract with Manchester, the Hooksett School Board decided last week that it would look at districts capable of taking all of Hooksett's high school students instead of splitting the students up between different districts.
The board voted 3-2 in favor of exploring the single-district option, and voted 2-3 against looking at multi-district options. If the breach claim against Manchester is successful, Hooksett would be out of its contract with Manchester in June 2014. "Based on the time-line presented to us by (Superintendent Charles Littlefield), we would only have a few months to figure out where our students would go if our breach claim is successful. We just don't have the time to explore both options," School Board Chairman Trisha Korkosz said. School Board Vice Chairman David Pearl disagreed, saying that the board let the public down by not exploring both options, and that they made a choice based upon a limited amount of data. "We do have very little time to do this, so if the single-district option fails we will have even less time to figure out what to do with our students," Pearl said. He said the board shouldn't have made a decision during the workshop, and that more data on both options should have been required before taking a vote. "I personally feel we made this decision in a data vacuum," Pearl said.
Korkosz said she disagrees with Pearl's notion that the board let the public down. "We didn't look at it because we have too short a timeframe. I believe it is just not a plausible solution," she said.
While not set in stone, board members say the most logical destination for its students should the breach claim be successful would be Pinkerton Academy in Derry.
"Pinkerton has indicated in the past that they would be able to take all of our students," Korkosz said.
Pearl said that his goal by exploring both options would be to give voters two options to vote for, instead of an up or down vote on one option.
"It is possible it won't be approved — it could happen," Littlefield said, who added that along with voter approval from Hooksett, the district would need approval from the state Department of Education and the school boards of Pinkerton's sending towns. With no hearing scheduled to hear Hooksett's claim against Manchester scheduled, Pearl said the district has no idea when they will get the court's decision.
"Certainly we will start negotiating with other schools without knowing the final outcome. We have to because of deadlines," he said. If the district's claim against Manchester fails, Korkosz said she wouldn't rule out the multi-district option becoming more realistic. "If the claim fails, we would have until 2016 to inform Manchester of our intent to opt out of our contract in 2018. If that is the case, we would have a lot more time to explore both options."