The Manchester Board of School Committee sent a blistering letter to its Hooksett counterpart on Friday, charging it with failing to negotiate terms of a new tuition agreement in good faith. The letter, signed by Board Vice Chair Sarah Ambrogi, alleged bad faith because Hooksett’s negotiations representatives, Superintendent Charles Littlefield and Attorney Gordon Graham, quote “indicated that they had no power to negotiate.”
Despite this, wrote Ambrogi, on October twentieth, Manchester offered a ten year contract that included Hooksett paying the actual per pupil cost of tuition plus eleven point one percent, which split the difference between each community’s last proposal, guaranteeing a base floor of one hundred sixty students for the first three years of the contract and, as Hooksett requested, guaranteeing a minimum number of students based on the actual class size average for those first three years.
Hooksett currently has two hundred eight eight students in Manchester high schools.
After presenting their proposal, they were told their terms would be relayed to the Hooksett School Board that night and a follow negotiations meeting was set for the twenty third. The Hooksett board rejected the proposal in favor of its last offer, which was actual per pupil cost plus ten percent, no minimum student guarantee for the first three years and a guarantee starting in year four based on the of the first three years of freshmen enrollments.
Ambrogi wrote quote
“Hooksett’s terms are not acceptable to Manchester. While we have moved from our prior position, you have not. While that is your choice, your choice means that the long history of cooperation between our districts appears to be at an end.”
Ambrogi closed the letter saying the board would revisit its vote to allow Hooksett students to attend Manchester schools “in perpetuity” and limit the promise that students who start in Manchester can finish in Manchester to next year’s incoming freshman class.
When contacted by Girard at Large, Mayor Ted Gatsas declined to comment on the specific of the letter saying the terms were discussed in non public session. He did say, however, that his not signing the letter should tell everybody what he thinks of it. He also said he thought that any student who starts in Manchester’s schools should be allowed to finish in Manchester’s schools, no matter when they enter.
Mayoral candidate Joyce Craig, who has repeatedly blamed Gatsas for the loss of students and revenue from Hooksett and other tuition towns, did not respond to our request for comment. Any wonder why?
Hooksett School Board Member John Lyscars made multiple comments on social media, the thrust of which were that Manchester apparently “is not interested in Hooksett kids at their schools” and that the district quote “is disregarding the fact that we have been negotiating for nearly 2 years, and that Hooksett has modified its position substantially.”
We’ve posted the entire letter with this news read at Girard at Large dot com.
News from our own backyard continues after this.
Looks like the fireworks in the Manchester mayoral campaign will continue up to the last minute. Mayor Ted Gatsas issued a press release yesterday hammering rival Joyce Craig for failing to answer the New Hampshire Union Leader’s “yes or no” question on the city’s tax cap.
Said Gatsas, quote “It’s unbelievable to me that with only two days before the city votes Joyce Craig flat out refuses to answer a simple YES or NO question. When asked by the NH Union Leader, Do you support the tax cap? She hedges and never tells the taxpayers of Manchester what her true beliefs are. The reason is obvious. Joyce Craig doesn’t support the tax cap and has no regard for it.
In a Joyce Craig administration there will be no tax increase high enough and should she be elected the taxpayers of Manchester ought to be prepared.
With Ted Gatsas everyone knows that’s not the case. I support the tax cap. I believe in the tax cap and I have a record to prove it. I will always stand with the taxpayer and I will always answer the question.”
The question was actually very direct, simply asking quote “Do you support the city’s tax cap? Why or why not? ”
In her answer, Craig said she would submit a budget within the cap as required by the charter and that she will quote
“work collaboratively with the Board of Mayor and Aldermen, school board, department heads and our taxpayers and families to pass a fiscally responsible budget that ensures our critical priorities are met, including strong public schools, safe streets, addressing the heroin crisis, and improving our infrastructure in order to ensure that Manchester is a city that attracts families and businesses.”
Gatsas answered: “YES!” writing that the cap “is the voice of the taxpayer at city hall (sic),” “provides a predictable framework to craft and bring forward budgets” and that “it limits city hall (sic) and school district spending and keeps property taxes low.”
Leaders in the New Hampshire State Senate announced a multi-faceted approach to tackle the substance abuse epidemic affecting communities statewide last week.
Senate President Chuck Morse, Majority Leader Jeb Bradley, Senator David Boutin from Hooksett and Senator Andy Sanborn from Bedford, will introduce five bills to address the crisis, including one for the previously announced drug courts, stronger penalties for selling fentanyl, enhanced drug monitoring, long-term treatment programs for opioid addiction and supporting law enforcement efforts to eliminate drug dealers from our streets, based on the working model developed with the Manchester Police Department.
Said Morse, quote:
“We continue to be concerned about the unprecedented substance abuse epidemic in New Hampshire and we all know families and friends that are affected by this. We are prepared to lead the way in combating substance abuse by sponsoring a number of bills as part of a multi-faceted plan that will address various aspects of this complex and widespread problem.”
That’s news from our own backyard, Girard at Large hour ___ is next!