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Hooksett, Pinkerton at odds over high school agreement

HOOKSETT — Superintendent Charles Littlefield told the school board Tuesday night that negotiations have failed with Pinkerton Academy for a high school contract that would start next school year.

The "deal-breakers" included Pinkerton's opposition to some of the wording in proposed memorandums of agreement with school officials in Pembroke, Bow and Londonderry that would allow those districts to deny entry to students with histories of violence, drug use or other kinds of negative behavior.

Littlefield said Pinkerton did not like it that the other districts would get to pick and choose among Hooksett's 600 high school students.

"On a personal level, this is quite devastating; this is the first time in a long time that I feel as if I have failed, but I can say I did my best, as did the attorneys," Littlefield said. "It's just a matter of circumstances, and we can't compromise what is best for our kids and community — not for Pinkerton."

Some at Tuesday's meeting said the breakdown of negotiations with Pinkerton might end up being a blessing.

"The delay will give us time" to educate the community as to why change is needed and "to address the concerns of parents," Town Council Chair James Sullivan said during the public session.

Some Hooksett students are already attending Pinkerton Academy and Londonderry High School. Under a settlement with Manchester to prematurely terminate the high school contract there, the city must accept Hooksett students through 2018.

While negotiations to send the majority of Hooksett students to Pinkerton have stalled, they have not ended, Littlefield said. He said he expects to eventually enter into an agreement with Pinkerton.

The superintendent said negotiations with Londonderry, Pembroke and Bow school officials are progressing well; finalized agreements should be presented to the board shortly.

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