Pinkerton offers terrific academic, cultural, athletic and vocational opportunities for any student willing to put in the effort. If a student cannot find something, either he is not looking or it is likely not available at any public — and very likely any private — school. Current allegations that PA is oblivious to taxpayer or public school concerns are untrue. PA has an efficient operation and its per pupil costs are among the very lowest in New Hampshire. Portsmouth and Epping have per pupil costs 20-40 percent higher than PA with far fewer academic and extra-curricular activities.
The current effort to create a charter school within Derry may have merit if it is focused on students currently requiring out-of-district placement. If school size is the issue, then we should look at class size not school size as the determinative factor in education quality. PA has a pupil-to-teacher ratio of 24-to-1. For any other reason, including job preservation, a charter school seems impractical at best and misguided at worst.
The school board and community would be better served collaborating with PA. It has adapted to Derry‘s changing needs quite well for two centuries. Frankly, I have far more faith in Mary Anderson and the Board of Trustees to make needed investments in our children than certain members of this town’s education establishment. There was a reason that Dave Brown and the School Board 10 years ago advocated a perpetual contract with PA, which the voters wisely approved. It was and remains in the best interest of our children and our community.
If some local power brokers feel slighted, hemmed in, or offended by PA or anyone serving there, they should take it up with them. If they wish to distract from the harsh realities of local and state education budgets, forget it. The voters are far too smart for that to work. I find it a tad odd that some community and education establishment members who have fought tooth and nail against charter schools now embrace one. It is time for the public and private hostility between the public education establishment and our finest community resource to cease.
If it continues, perhaps people, such as myself, long opposed to making Derry a city, will reconsider for the sole purpose of granting to the town the school district’s authority and resources. This may ensure the continuation of two centuries of mutual success with Pinkerton Academy. Our elected officials are more easily replaced than a two-century success story, which can and should be allowed to continue its great work.