By Max Sullivan
HAMPTON FALLS – School Board members from Hampton and Hampton Falls will meet Thursday to discuss sending Lincoln Akerman School middle-schoolers to Hampton Academy.
While Hampton Falls School Board members said they will enter the discussion with an open mind, board members and residents said during a public hearing in the LAS gym Tuesday they were skeptical the move would be the right solution to LAS’ space problem. The discussion follows the fifth straight year in which voters have rejected a multimillion-dollar bond article to create new space for LAS.
Hampton School Board members contacted the Hampton Falls School Board about sending sixth-, seventh- and eight-graders to Hampton Academy as an alternative to a multimillion-dollar addition. Hampton Falls School Board members said Tuesday they were unsure exactly what Hampton school officials had in mind, but they plan to discuss the option at their Thursday night School Board meeting once. Greg Parish, of the Hampton Falls School Board speaks with Hampton School Board Chairman Les Shepard earlier that day.
Costs for sending students to Hampton Academy were among concerns for School Board members, as they estimated it could be as much as $1.5 million annually. They also said they were concerned as to whether Hampton Falls would have representation on the Hampton School Board.
Board members said they were doing their due diligence in looking at every option that is presented to them, including sending their students to Hampton Academy. Some said they were personally disinclined to support the idea.
“I don’t think anyone wanted to have this letter drafted and dumped in our laps… please don’t think we’re necessarily all for it,” said Hampton Falls School Board member Greg Marrow. “I personally don’t know I can see any long-term benefit to that, but we have an obligation to the town.”
Some residents said they believed the change would only be a financial benefit for Hampton taxpayers and cost Hampton Falls residents more taxes in the long run.
“Why would we want to pay rent? That’s all we’re doing for Hampton,” said Shelly Brown-Parish, wife of Greg Parish. “Why not invest in Hampton Falls rather than send a million and a half, two million… to pay for their renovation (which passed at Town Meeting in March)?”
Lane said he has heard some residents concerned about sending LAS students to a bigger school.
“I don’t know anything about Hampton Academy… but I’ve heard a lot of people in town suggest that there are opportunities for our kids here they wouldn’t get in Hampton, such as being four-feet-tall and being able to make a basketball team,” said Lane.
SAU 21 Business Administrator Matt Ferreira said Hampton Falls residents would have to vote on a warrant article that would send LAS students to Hampton Academy, but he said School Board members would have the final decision and be able to go against that vote.
Lane said he hopes the board can determine whether it plans to consider sending LAS students to Hampton Academy within the next 35 days.
Residents also discussed future renovations to LAS and the School Board’s implementation of “Plan B” to address the school’s space problems using mobile classrooms in the wake of the $7.3 million LAS renovation article’s failure at the polls in March.
Lane said the plan will call for a new mobile classroom this year for a music room, then two mobile homes for the fourth and fifth grade the following year. He said the mobile classrooms will allow for Spanish class to be held in a permanent classroom and properly separate the fifth graders from the junior high students.
Lane said another bond project will likely be presented before voters again in 2018, though he said it was unclear what the project would include. He and other School Board members said they hope to hold more public hearings as the year goes on to gather feedback regarding a future proposal.
Source: Hampton Union
At the time of this article, information is not available regarding the exact numbers involved with sending junior high students to Hampton Academy. As the numbers quoted in the article by the Hampton Falls School Board and again by Shelly Brown-Parish, wife of Vice Chair of the Hampton Falls School Board Greg Parish, are not based on any facts that have been made public by either SAU90 or SAU21, it would seem premature for such numbers to be casually discussed.
Once the logistics and numbers are discussed it will provide a basis for deciding if this is or isn’t viable for the Town of Hampton Falls.