Hooksett, Derry's Pinkerton Academy aiming for 10-year deal
DERRY — After months of negotiations, Pinkerton Academy’s board of trustees and the Hooksett School Board could vote on a 10-year high school sending contract during a public joint meeting tonight at the Pinkerton’s Stockbridge Theatre.
Hooksett Superintendent Charles Littlefield said the meeting was called in the hope that a public discussion between the two sides would help efforts to iron out the last major issue remaining in the negotiations toward an agreement that would send most of Hooksett’s high school students to Pinkerton rather than Manchester.
“I think it is a great idea that we are going to meet together in one place and negotiate what our issues are,” board Chairman Trisha Korkosz said.
Korkosz said the last big issue involves how many Hooksett students would be allowed to attend other high schools. Currently, she said, Pinkerton is stipulating that at least 75 students per class attend Pinkerton for the first four years of the contract, and that for the following six years, 10 percent of each class would be allowed to attend other high schools.“We want a higher number; that 10 percent number is hard for this community,” Korkosz said.
Board members John Lyscars and David Pearl have both expressed their dismay with the negotiations.
“I didn’t support this meeting, and I don’t think it’s a way to make a 10-year tuition plan, to put the boards in a room at the last minute and try to make a decision,” Pearl said.
Korkosz said the two parties have until the second week of January to agree to a contract so that it can be placed on a warrant article for voter approval in March.
“I think it’s possible a last-minute decision is made, and I don’t like those. It all goes back to my central theme — we are at the 12th hour, and I don’t think that is the way to plan for the future,” Pearl said.
Korkosz said she is cautiously optimistic, however, that a deal can be struck in time.
Pinkerton spokesman Chip Underhill remained tight-lipped on the meeting, only confirming that the session would take place.
Last month, Pinkerton continued to keep negotiations with the Hooksett School District open despite reports that talks had hit a snag for the 2014-15 school year.
Hooksett School Board members then agreed in a meeting last month to restart talks with the high school.
Harry Burnham, president of Pinkerton’s board of trustees, has said the board welcomes the opportunity to work with the Hooksett School Board.
“In the past year, Pinkerton Academy has toured hundreds of Hooksett parents and students,” Burnham said.
“We are aware of tremendous interest by Hooksett families in the opportunities available at Pinkerton.”
Hooksett would become Pinkerton’s fifth sending town, joining Auburn, Chester, Derry and Hampstead.