Manchester Mayor Gatsas: Hooksett kids likely to stay in city schools
But Gatsas' main election opponent, Ward 12 alderman Patrick Arnold, said the agreement does nothing to address the teacher layoffs and overcrowded classrooms that prompted Hooksett to exit its long-standing agreement with Manchester.
The deal does mean money for Manchester:
• It keeps this year's tuition rate at $8,500 per student but raises tuition rates by nearly $2,000 for the 2014-15 school year — to $10,200.
• It guarantees $781,000 a year for the next five years, representing brick and mortar improvements Manchester made to Central and West high schools with the anticipation of Hooksett enrollments.
Last year, about 549 Hooksett students attended Manchester high schools, most of them at Central and West."It's one more step out the door for Hooksett," said Jim O'Connell, leader of Citizens for Manchester Schools. But he noted the Manchester school board has adopted a policy of no more than 30 students to a class, and political and business leaders now realize city schools need additional attention."We've got a year to prove to the people of Hooksett that Manchester's the best option," O'Connell said.
One provision calls for Manchester and Hooksett to make a good-faith effort to negotiate an agreement that would allow Hooksett students to continue attending Manchester schools after 2018.
"It leaves an opening for the two school districts to continue a relationship, with an opt-in decision for parents in Hooksett," said John Avard, who represents Ward 10 on the school board.
"Anything we can do to keep them with us in any way, shape or form benefits the district," Dick said.
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