SAU 21 Split Is Debated

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By Patrick Cronin

Hampton Union, Tuesday, February 6, 2007

[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online]

HAMPTON -- Superintendent James Gaylord said if the Hampton School District voters want to do what it is in the best interest of students, then it should consider withdrawing from School Administrative Unit 21 at the March 13 election.

"We are moving forward," Gaylord said. "But I think Hampton can move at a faster rate if the district was separate."

That is the message Gaylord sent to voters at Monday night's deliberative session, where the merits of the town establishing its own SAU was debated. But the audience was split on whether withdrawing from SAU 21 — which currently oversees the districts of Hampton, Hampton Falls, North Hampton, Seabrook, South Hampton and Winnacunnet Cooperative — was a good idea or a bad one.

School Board Chairwoman Sandra Nickerson, who supports the proposal, said this may be the town's last chance the district could withdraw. Fred Bramante, a State Board of Education member, is proposing a moratorium on any school district withdrawing from their SAU until the school funding issue is resolved.

"Hampton pays $430,000 into the SAU but only get 40 percent of the services," Nickerson said. "If Hampton goes out on its own, we will pay 439,000 but receive 100 percent of the services. Why wouldn't we want to do this?"

Winnacunnet School Board member Richard Goodman said he's against the plan because costs will go up for all the other districts and a K-12 district needs one educational leader to maintain consistency.

"We should all be on the same page when it comes to curriculum for every student (to) succeed at Winnacunnet and in life, " Goodman said.

Other school districts within SAU 21 expressed opposition, since they would pay more for central office services. The teachers union as well as the support staff union are against the move, fearing loss of membership.

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