HOOKSETT — The Hooksett School Board unanimously authorized Superintendent Charles Littlefield to enter into contract negotiations with Pinkerton Academy to send most of the district's high school students there starting next September.
Littlefield said that after meeting with Pinkerton Headmaster Mary Anderson, it was agreed that any contract would be 10 years in length — the minimum designated by the state Board of Education — and that a number of Hooksett students would be allowed to attend other schools.
"I am happy with how things have turned out so far. It is looking like this is the best scenario for the children of Hooksett, and it would allow students that live far away (from Derry) to attend other schools," Hooksett School Board Chairman Trisha Korkosz said.
Littlefield said it was conceptually agreed that 75 of the district's 600 students in public schools could attend other high schools in 2014, 65 in 2015, 55 in 2016 and than 45 for the rest of the contract. Some board members still had concerns.
"I was somewhat happy with that, but I would prefer the 75 to go on in perpetuity," Pearl said.
Anderson said Wednesday that with enrollment at Pinkerton expected to decrease by 500 students in 10 years, overcrowding should not be a concern.
"Actually, projections indicate that Pinkerton's enrollment would remain stable, growing little if at all, with a phase-in of students from Hooksett," Anderson said.
The School Board also reversed course during Tuesday's meeting by voting to explore a multi-school contract in a close 3-2 vote. Along with School Board Vice Chairman David Pearl, John Lyscars and Phil Denbow voted to look into entering multiple contracts with multiple school districts. "I would say that it was reconsidered based upon the prompting of the superintendent, who said that if the Pinkerton contract is finalized and up to 75 students allowed to attend other schools, it would be better to have contracts with other districts stipulating things like how many students they could take and how much tuition will cost," Pearl said.
Pearl added any agreement would still have to be approved by the board and potentially by taxpayers through warrant articles.
Korkosz said that the Pembroke, Bow and Londonderry high schools are all candidates for small-scale agreements with Hooksett.
Other conceptual agreements include two Hooksett residents being placed on the Pinkerton board of trustees, annual meetings between Pinkerton and Hooksett School District officials, open access to student performance data, and itemized accounting of how Hooksett's money is spent each year. Board members voted to resume the meeting on Monday at 6:30 p.m.