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Hooksett school budget increase of $2 million to be discussed

HOOKSETT — The Hooksett School Board will meet with the budget committee on Thursday to discuss the board's proposed $30 million budget for next year.

The proposed budget is about $2 million more than the current budget. The increase is attributed in large part to the 10-year contract the Hooksett board signed to send students to Pinkerton Academy next year. That contract needs voter approval in March before it can go into effect.

"The $2 million is the cost that (Superintendent Charles) Littlefield warned us about regarding changing the schools," said Hooksett School Board Chairman Trisha Korkosz.

Hooksett has been sending its high school students to Manchester, but agreed to pay Manchester $200,000 for an early termination of that contract.

"I am concerned that we are coming out with a budget much higher than last year, while at the same time trying to convince voters to pass the Pinkerton Academy contract. (Because of that) voters might just turn off everything, leaving us with a negative vote," said David Pearl, a board member.

Korkosz said as a result of the budget increase, the budget committee has asked for the joint meeting.

"The meeting is for that afternoon, because afterwards the committee is going to have a meeting that will be its last chance to go over our budget before it goes to the residents," Korkosz said.

The $2 million increase is heavily associated with the move to Pinkerton Academy. The School Board signed a 10-year contract with Pinkerton which will have to be approved by voters in March, and a one-year enrollment agreement, ensuring that at least freshmen next year will attend Pinkerton.

"It will put a financial burden on this district because we failed to negotiate a reasonable cost with Pinkerton; $10,200 is reasonable, ($10,792) is not reasonable.

This board is spending money as if it is their own, which I object to. We did not hold proper negotiations and as a result, we are not representing our residents," said John Lyscars, a board member.

Korkosz disagreed.

"(Pinkerton's tuition) is a very comparable tuition to other districts in the area. It's a $500 increase over Manchester, but that cost is worth it to send the students to Pinkerton," Korkosz said.

Pearl said financial concerns were a big part of why he didn't vote for the contract with Pinkerton.

"I think the budget increase is due to poor planning.

"This whole year has been poor planning. The process has failed, and now we are making decisions at the last minute without accounting for where the money is going. Even if we need to spend it, we should have had solid planning for these things," Pearl said.

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