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Hooksett seeks more options for its students

HOOKSETT — School Superintendent Charles Littlefield told the Hooksett School Board Tuesday night that Londonderry, Pembroke and Bow school districts are more interested in memorandums of understanding rather than binding tuition contracts to enroll Hooksett high-school age students.

While Hooksett is looking at sending its high school students to Pinkerton Academy in Derry in 2014, Hooksett officials are also considering making possible agreements with Londonderry, Pembroke and Bow for students who don’t want to attend Pinkerton.

Littlefield said that he met with the superintendents of all three districts independently last week and learned they are interested in the same thing: memorandums of understanding.

“A MOU doesn’t go before the voters (like a tuition agreement), and a MOU can be amended by the two districts without Department of Education approval.

It is a more fluid document, and they tend to be a little less cumbersome,” Littlefield said.

Littlefield said that while it might make sense to pursue an MOU with those districts, he said that for Pinkerton it would be best to have a tuition contract. Littlefield is engaged in negotiations with Pinkerton Academy on a sending contract to replace the contract with the Manchester School District that expires at the end of this year.

While saying a MOU is a document that is easier to work with, Board Member David Pearl said that such fluidity in the document might be problematic.

“I don’t want our students caught up in politics, because if the board of either district changes, they could potentially alter the MOU or cancel it altogether,” Pearl said.

Littlefield said that Pearl’s concerns were valid, and that it would be best to bring the topic up with legal council.

“We want to make sure we do what’s best for the kids and ensure predicability and stability for the public,” Littlefield said.Pearl and fellow Board member John Lyscars also brought up the status of negotiations with Pinkerton, saying that they would prefer there be no limits on how many students can attend other schools.“The best way to get voter approval on a Pinkerton contract is to have no limits. If we have limitation of numbers, there will be a lot of concerns in the community,” Lyscars said.

Littlefield said that while Pinkerton has shown a willingness to allow at least 45 students from each incoming freshmen class to attend other districts, he was hoping to negotiate to allow more students to leave Pinkerton for other districts. He declined to go into detail, saying that he didn’t want to tip his hand in negotiations.The board also voted to engage the Sulloway and Hollis law firm of Concord to represent the school in the negotiations with the four schools. Littlefield said that the districts regular law firm has a conflict of interest.The Board approved the retention of the new law firm, 5-0.

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