HAMPTON — School officials from SAU 21 and Hampton’s SAU 90 will meet Friday to discuss the possibility of sending Lincoln Akerman School middle-schoolers to Hampton Academy to address a lack of space in the Hampton Falls school.
Superintendents and business administrators from both SAUs, as well as one member from the Hampton and Hampton Falls school boards, will hold their meeting at the SAU 21 office at 8 a.m. The meeting comes after Hampton school officials contacted the Hampton Falls School Board about sending middle-schoolers to the academy as an alternative to a multi-million-dollar addition to LAS. Bond projects to add space to LAS have failed at the polls for the last five years.
Hampton School Board Chairman Les Shepard spoke in a closed meeting last month with Hampton Falls School Board member Greg Parish to initiate conversations between the boards. Shepard said the meeting resulted in more questions than answers, such as how Hampton Falls residents would be represented on the Hampton School Board and what it would cost for tuition, transportation and special education costs.
SAU 90 Superintendent Kathleen Murphy said the meeting’s goal is to further identify further questions and the next step could be to hold a public meeting between the Hampton and Hampton Falls boards. She said joint board meetings would likely be public unless there was a need to discuss contracts, and she prefers to have meetings held in public if possible.
There is typically an average of 100 students in grades 6-8 combined at LAS, according to LAS school staff. Hampton Academy Principal David O’Connor said his school will be able to fit those students once a recently passed $25.9 million academy renovation project is completed in 2019.
Several Hampton Falls School Board members and residents said during a public hearing last month they were skeptical of whether sending LAS students to Hampton Academy benefited both towns. Some said they only saw Hampton residents benefiting, as it would offset Hampton tax dollars currently going toward annual bond payments for the academy renovation.
Some Hampton residents have called on the Hampton Falls School Board to consider sending LAS students to the academy. The Rational Taxpayers of Hampton watchdog group’s spokesman, Norm Silberdick, emailed Hampton Falls School Board members to say the move would provide both towns with cost savings.