HOOKSETT — While no plan has been formalized, the Hooksett School Board is considering adding bus service for high school students next year so that students can continue to take the bus to Manchester schools.
Board Chair Trisha Korkosz said that while the board hasn’t voted yet, it appears it will continue to provide transportation to Manchester for students who wish to remain in the city at while at the same time transporting children to Pinkerton Academy, which is currently in negotiations with Hooksett on a sending contract to replace Manchester as Hooksett’s anchor school.
“Yes, transportation to Manchester will continue, no official vote has been taken but that is the sense I am getting, and transportation will be provided to the anchor school — how that will work out no one knows yet,” Korkosz said.
Board member David Pearl said that the new bus service could end up costing the district $275,000 on top of what the district is already paying. Korkosz said that Hooksett has budgeted $794,028 for the current school year to pay for six busses to take students to and from Manchester schools.
“I am not sure if the district will end up spending more money on transportation, but I do know there are a lot of associated costs with transitioning to another anchor school from Manchester,” Pearl said.
At a recent meeting the Budget Committee, District Superintendent Charles Littlefield said that while the difference between tuition for Pinkerton and Manchester in the coming years will be similar, there would be substantial transitional costs, including transportation, associated with changing schools.
Hooksett is in negotiations with Pinkerton to serve as the district’s primary high school replacing the Manchester School District, which was made possible by a settlement between Manchester and Hooksett to terminate the district’s sending contract early. However, while Pinkerton would serve as the district’s anchor school, as part of the settlement agreement with Manchester, Hooksett students who wish to remain in Manchester would be allowed to do so until 2018.
“I would think that Hooksett (continuing to provide transportation to Manchester) would be a relief to Hooksett parents that want their children to continue to come here. However, I am also sure that the voters of Hooksett will be curious to see what the cost increase will be (associated with providing transportation to Pinkerton and Manchester),” Manchester Mayor Ted Gastas said.
Korkosz and Pearl both agreed that providing full service for both districts might not be needed, and instead more cost effective plans might be put in place.
“The most expensive plan would be to provide full service to both districts, but before we make a final plan about transportation we need to see a presentation from (Business Administrator) Karen Lessard on our options scheduled for the Nov. 5 Board meeting,” Korkosz said.
She added that because the district’s students will be phased into Pinkerton should a agreement be reached, not all of Hooksett’s 650 high school students would immediately go to Pinkerton.
“We might not need as many buses for Pinkerton as we would in a few years, so maybe instead of multiple extra buses we would only need one,” Korkosz said.
Another problem is logistics, Pearl said.
Manchester school’s open at 7:45 a.m., while Pinkerton opens at 7:15 a.m., making it difficult to have the current fleet of six buses contracted through Goffstown Trucking to handle all the students.
Korkosz said the board has not had discussions regarding transportation for students who wish to attend districts aside from Pinkerton or Manchester. Currently, the district is negotiating with Bow, Londonderry and Pembroke to serve as satellite schools for students who don’t wish to attend Manchester or Pinkerton.
“Historically we have not provided transportation for them,” Korkosz said.