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Goffstown, Hooksett discuss school deal

GOFFSTOWN — The Goffstown School District is considering entering into a tuition agreement with Hooksett to replace lost revenue when Dunbarton students leave SAU 19 in June 2014.

Acting Superintendent Brian Balke and Hooksett Superintendent Charles Littlefield met Tuesday to discuss accepting all or some of Hooksett students.

“We’re aggressively seeking a sending district to replace the revenue from Dunbarton,” Balke said Monday. “Goffstown is a great opportunity. It’s a great school because of the students, teachers and test scores, and we receive many accolades.”

In March, about 500 Dunbarton residents voted to end their 40-year agreement with Goffstown and enter into an agreement with Bow beginning in September 2014.

The loss of Dunbarton students could mean the loss of approximately $2 million annually for Goffstown.

Earlier this month, the Goffstown School Board asked Balke to contact Dunbarton parents to get an idea of how many families want to continue to send their students to Goffstown’s middle and high schools. According to the AREA agreement, Dunbarton must provide an intent of enrollment by Oct. 1. About 200 Dunbarton students currently attend Goffstown’s middle and high schools. New Boston students also attend the middle and high schools.

According to Hooksett School Board Chairman Trisha Korkosz, Littlefield had approached Goffstown’s former superintendent Stacy Buckley in January, but no agreement materialized.

“Their ability to take Hooksett students depended on the outcome of Dunbarton’s vote,” Korkosz said.

Korkosz said Hooksett is hoping to find a school that could accommodate all 670 to 700 of its students.

The Hooksett School Board recently authorized Littlefield to enter into contract negotiations with Pinkerton Academy in Derry to send most of the district’s students there beginning next September.

Last week, Littlefield said Hooksett is looking at several options.

“I’m not sure if we will be entering into an agreement with a single district,” he said. “We’re looking at the possibility of an anchor school, which is Pinkerton, and a satellite school with other districts. It’s a plan in progress, and no decisions have been made but I anticipate we will make a decision shortly.”

Another consideration for Hooksett is finding a school that is convenient for students.

“Pinkerton can take all our students, but it is quite a distance for some Hooksett students,” Littlefield said.

Hooksett high schoolers have been attending Manchester schools. But last year, Hooksett sent notice to Manchester alleging the city was in breach due to staff cutbacks, crowded classrooms and limited course offerings. The Manchester School District filed suit against Hooksett to enjoin its students from leaving.

In July, Hooksett and Manchester reached an agreement terminating the contract between the two districts in 2014, rather than 2018. Hooksett is paying Manchester about $8,500 per year per student, Littlefield said. Transportation is Hooksett’s responsibility and is not included in the tuition.

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