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Pinkerton contract defeat leads to talk of new school

HOOKSETT - Superintendent Charles Littlefield said he'd be surprised if talk of building a new high school didn't heat up after voters rejected Hooksett's proposed 10-year contract with Pinkerton Academy.

"Every option needs to be vetted, and I think the issue of a Hooksett-only high school has come up in that past, and we've had high school study committees research the topic," Littlefield said. "I certainly feel it would be wise to research the findings of those committees, update them appropriately and decide if that's a feasible option for our future."

The school district stands to gain more than 80 donated acres in the northern corridor of town. Littlefield said the land transfer from Manchester Sand & Gravel Co. is still going through the approval process.

Incoming School Board member Mike Berry said he'd support looking into a future high school in Hooksett if the public backed it, but only after the immediate educational needs of the district are resolved.

"Building a high school would not address the immediate need for a high school of record," he said. "If the reason the Pinkerton contract failed is money, then I don't think building our own high school is the answer.

"I think we need to continue to work with Pinkerton to try to address and educate the public on these areas of concern, in order to bring the Pinkerton contract back to the voters next year," he said,

"The next step, in my opinion, is to extend the enrollment agreements for another year to bring calmness to our seventh-graders. We will then have to discuss as a board where we go from here."

A total of 106 Hooksett students have signed up to attend Pinkerton Academy next year. Hooksett sends about 650 high school students out of town for their education; 428 of those go to Manchester high schools.

Incoming board member James Sullivan said building a new high school in Hooksett should be considered.

"We need to look at all aspects of a high school, from building to operating cost to what course offerings and programs we would have at Hooksett High," he said.

Board member John Lyscars said he's heard residents voice support for an in-town high school.

"In my opinion, the question that most interests Hooksett citizens is how much will it cost," he said. "However, other decisions like curriculum, size of the school, type of academic activities, extracurricular activities, sports programs and other details must be investigated and agreed upon before a high school proposal could be made."

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