By Julie Huss
---- — LONDONDERRY — More Hooksett high school students may call Lancer Nation home.
The School Board has put out the welcome mat to the town of Hooksett and invites more students to come to Londonderry High School.
The board approved a five-year memorandum of understanding at its meeting Nov. 19, which could mean more Hooksett students at LHS next year.
Now, 56 Hooksett students are enrolled at LHS. The new agreement gives the district an opportunity to offer 40 more spaces per grade level to Hooksett each year.
Hooksett is in the final stages of a contract with Manchester School District and wants out, due to overcrowding and other issues that have split the two districts.
As part of the tuition agreement, Londonderry retains total control over how many students may attend its high school. No Hooksett school officials would have any decision-making power on Londonderry issues.
Hooksett will pay to bus its students approximately 20 miles to Londonderry.
The plan also means more money for the school district.
“This would assist in offsetting the loss of adequacy money,” Superintendent Nate Greenberg said. “This would have a positive impact and may help fill some of the revenue holes.”
This year, Londonderry has lost about $1.7 million in adequacy funding. Next year, the district could lose about $600,000 more.
Greenberg estimated by bringing in Hooksett students over the course of the next several years, Londonderry could see a possible tuition revenue of about $1.4 million.
That, he said, would be a good thing for the district’s finances.
Londonderry would charge a $10,290 tuition base rate for the first year.
Pinkerton Academy is also considering taking Hooksett students, but it is early in the negotiation process.
An agreement could bring a majority of Hooksett’s nearly 600 high school students to Derry for a potential 10-year contract, the minimum required by the state Board of Education.
Pinkerton already contracts with four sending towns — Derry, Chester, Hampstead and Auburn. That school’s enrollment stands at about 3,050 students.
Londonderry’s potential memorandum agreement, unlike a sending town contract, would not have any state-mandated time frame attached.
Greenberg said bringing in more Hooksett students would not impact the school district’s staffing or programming at this time.
“We’re doing it without any added costs to us,” he said.
Greenberg said this is a good way to help boost declining enrollment and offer some relief to taxpayers and the school district.
Right now, the high school is at about 1,626 students. Next year’s projected enrollment drops to about 1,611.
“We looked at creative ways to increase our revenues,” he said. “This was a pretty good place to look.”
The Hooksett students already coming to Londonderry are a good fit.
“There are no problems whatsoever,” Greenberg said. “Once a kid walks in the door, they are a member of Lancer Nation. I think it’s worked out very well and we’d love to have more Hooksett students.
The Hooksett School Board held a public hearing last week and is scheduled to vote on the agreement Dec. 3.