DerryNews.com, Derry, New Hampshire

December 12, 2013

Pinkerton, Hooksett continue negotiations

By Julie Huss
jhuss@derrynews.com

---- — DERRY — Pinkerton Academy still hopes to open its doors to Hooksett students in 2014.

Both schools are continuing negotiations to get to a possible agreement to bring Hooksett students to Derry beginning in the 2014-2015 school year.

Hooksett’s School Board met with Pinkerton trustees Monday night. Pinkerton has also hosted informational sessions for Hooksett families and hundreds showed up to tour the campus and get information.

Charlies Littlefield is the superintendent of SAU 15, including Hooksett, Auburn and Candia. He said the meeting Monday was another positive step to a potential connection with Pinkerton.

“The board of trustees and Hooksett School Board had a lot of discussion,” Littlefield said. “At the end, there was agreement on a number of things.”

Hooksett is in the final year of its contract with Manchester. A split between the two districts came due to overcrowding issues and other problems forcing the divide.

There are about 650 high school students in Hooksett. If approved, a majority of them could come to Derry.

PInkerton spokesman Chip Underhill said progress has been made.

“Although the Hooksett board in general was at first concerned that 90 percent of Hooksett students would eventually have to attend Pinkerton, by the end of the evening, when the flexibility was discussed, a majority of board members were apparently satisfied that compromises had been offered,” Underhill said.

Littlefield said a contract like this takes a lot of work. That includes making sure both sides agree to the potential tuition agreement.

“It’s now up to legal counsel for both parties to look at the agreement,” Littlefield said. “There are many moving parts.”

Pinkerton wants Hooksett to come to town.

“Pinkerton welcomes the opportunity to provide Hooksett families with the high quality of instruction, curriculum, programs and facilities of our school,” said Harry Burnham, president of the Pinkerton Board of Trustees. “We believe this can be a wonderful partnership.”

Adding Hooksett students would fill gaps due to slipping enrollment numbers. Pinkerton projects 3,030 students for next year.

Londonderry has its own Hooksett contingent. About 56 students are enrolled there and more are expected in the next several years after the district approved a five-year memorandum of understanding with the Hooksett district.

In Pinkerton’s case, the potential agreement would be a 10-year contract similar to what’s in place with the school’s other sending towns, Auburn, Derry, Hampstead and Chester. That’s the minimum required by the state Board of Education for this type of contract.

Littlefield said any agreement with Pinkerton would still allow Hooksett families to have choices about where to send their students.

The Hooksett School Board is scheduled to have an updated Pinkerton contract by its meeting Dec. 17.