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January 06. 2014 9:37PM

Hooksett makes it late to school in Manchester

MANCHESTER — Has the cold war between Manchester and Hooksett over high schools heated up to include snow days?

Manchester schools started on time Monday, giving an apparent cold shoulder to past practice, which called for city schools to follow the lead of towns that send their high school students to Manchester Central and Manchester West.

The result: Hooksett and Candia students who took the bus to school arrived two hours late, because their towns delayed school due to icy conditions.

“I haven’t seen this in a long time,” said Central High Principal Ronald Mailhot, whose school educates close to 600 students from Hooksett and Candia. West instructs a smaller number of Hooksett students.

This is the last year of a tuition agreement between Manchester and Hooksett, which called for Hooksett high school students to be educated at city schools exclusively.

Traditionally, Manchester superintendents followed the lead of Hooksett and Candia when deciding whether to call or delay school on account of winter weather, Mailhot said.

Superintendent Debra Livingston said she spoke to several people, including Hooksett-Candia Superintendent Charles Littlefield, before deciding to go ahead with school on schedule Monday. Livingston shared her plans with Littlefield, and he didn’t express any concerns, she said.

Livingston said others were telling her that roads were in good shape and the temperature was warming up.

She said she’ll continue to do what is best for Manchester, but also take the other towns into account.

“I would say I would probably, yes, consider that (Hooksett) the next time a little more heavily,” she said.

The decades-long tuition agreement between Hooksett and Manchester was scuttled after complaints about the quality of Manchester schools. Eventually, the school districts agreed to cut the contract short, but skirmishes continue over enrollments for next year and future years.

mhayward@unionleader.com


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