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Five-year agreement proposed between Londonderry, Hooksett schools

Union Leader Correspondent

November 21. 2013 11:21PM

LONDONDERRY — Londonderry school officials are proposing a five-year agreement with the Hooksett School District after a successful first semester with 56 Hooksett tuition students.

During the Londonderry School Board meeting Tuesday night, Superintendent Nathan Greenberg shared details of the Memorandum of Understanding being proposed between the two school districts.

Discussions on the topic continued for well over an hour, with residents and school attorney Matt Upton offering their thoughts on the matter.

Upton said he wasn't required to attend this week's public hearing, but opted to do so in the interest of transparency.

The Memorandum of Understanding will be discussed further at the Hooksett School Board meeting Monday night.

According to Greenberg, revenues from the Hooksett tuition students now attending Londonderry High School have already earned $457,000 for Londonderry.

Over the past year, the Londonderry district has lost approximately $1.7 million in federal adequacy funds, Greenberg further noted, so opening the doors to Hooksett teens seems an ideal way to help avoid passing further costs on to taxpayers, especially at a time when Londonderry enrollments show a pattern of continued decline.

In the coming year, Greenberg said the district expects to lose another $500,000 in federal funding, but the possible addition of 40 more Hooksett students would mean increased revenue for Londonderry.

"Why is this a good idea? Well, its allowing us a higher probability of preserving our current programs, while offsetting this tremendous loss of revenue," the superintendent said.

As it stands now, Londonderry doesn't anticipate a need for additional staff to accommodate the Hooksett tuition students.

Under the proposed memorandum of understanding agreement, Londonderry would welcome an increased number of Hooksett students over the next five years, with plans to enroll up to 176 Hooksett students by 2017.

By then, revenues would exceed $4.7 million for Londonderry, Greenberg noted.

Should both sides ultimately agree to the proposed Memorandum of Understanding, Londonderry would remain in control of the number of students enrolled each year, meaning that if an unexpected influx of high school students came to town, the Hooksett enrollment numbers would decline.

Special education students would, likewise, be admitted subject to staffing and space availability.

Once the memorandum agreement expires, Londonderry would have the option of continuing or discontinuing admittance of Hooksett students, though those already attending would be allowed to stay on through graduation.

As it stands now, Londonderry receives approximately $10,292 in tuition for each Hooksett student. Transportation for those students isn't provided by the Londonderry district.

Rep. Al Baldasaro (R-Londonderry) asked if the town would receive adequacy funds for the Hooksett students.

Greenberg said they would not, while noting that Londonderry does receive adequacy funds in cases where a local student is transported out of district for special education services.

Baldasaro wondered if the arrangement would be of benefit to local taxpayers.

The answer, Greenberg said, was yes.

This year revenues from the Hooksett students would result in a 15 cent per thousand tax decrease for Londonderry homeowners.

In a couple years, if the agreement moves forward, those savings could increase up to $1.45 per thousand.

Londonderry High School Principal Jason Parent said the group of Hooksett students has adjusted well to life in Londonderry, noting that the new students have been paired up with peers to help them learn the ropes.

"We've had absolutely no problems whatsoever this year," Greenberg added.

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