The 20-year High School Maintenance Agreement signed by the Manchester and Hooksett school districts in 2003, which sent Hooksett students to Manchester for high school until 2023, was revised in a Hillsborough Superior Court settlement.
“Hooksett is obligated under the agreement to send all its public high school students to Manchester except those students who are approved by the Hooksett School Board to attend different high schools ‘on a case-by-case basis,’” according to the settlement.
The dispute, according to Hooksett School Board Vice Chairman David Pearl, stems from Hooksett’s belief that Manchester schools are overcrowded and that classrooms have in excess of 30 students per class, which Hooksett considers a breach of the agreement with Manchester.
As a result, Hooksett parents have sought permission to send their high school students to other area schools, including Londonderry. Londonderry Superintendent Nathan Greenberg said 60 Hooksett students will be attending Londonderry High School in the fall.
The new agreement terminates the previous 20-year agreement, and Hooksett will pay capital cost obligations to Manchester until 2018. Hooksett students can attend other schools this fall and Hooksett is not bound to send students to Manchester.
The Manchester-Hooksett agreement will terminate June 30, 2014.
Hooksett students who have been approved for attendance to schools other than Manchester for the 2013-2014 school year will attend those schools. Effective July 1, 2014 through June 30, 2018, Manchester will continue to accept students assigned to Manchester schools by Hooksett, but Hooksett will be under no obligation to assign students to attend Manchester schools,” the agreement states.
“As the agreement says, our contract with Manchester that had our students going to Manchester schools is terminated in 2014 and we will not be obligated to send our students to Manchester, but there are substantial payments to be made to Manchester until 2018, and the tuition is being raised from $8,400 to $10,200,” Pearl said. “Londonderry has agreed to accept the tuition payment amount that we were paying Manchester at $8,400. We don’t know if that will change with the new contract.”
Greenberg said if the tuition for Manchester is $10,200, then that is what Londonderry will charge.
“What Manchester is charging for the students is what we will ask,” he said. The new agreement sets tuition for the 2014/15 school year at $10,200, 2015/16 at $10,404, the 2016/17 school year at $10,612 and the 2017/18 school year at $10,824.
“What the contract says is that even though we are under no obligation to send our students to Manchester, we will still negotiate in good faith in 2016 on whether Hooksett students will attend Manchester after 2018,” Pearl said. Pearl said the agreement was adopted by the Hooksett school board and he and one other person voted against it.
“I asked for a public hearing and it didn’t happen. The residents of Hooksett didn’t get a chance to discuss it. It was presented and voted on and now it’s official,” Pearl said.