ROLLINSFORD, N.H. — The N.H. Board of Education unanimously approved the Withdrawal Committee’s plan to opt out of an agreement with Somersworth in order to send students across the border to Marshwood schools beginning in 2015.
Last Wednesday’s vote ultimately moves the process along to a final vote by Rollinsford residents in March. After this vote, officials will be expected to file paperwork with the Board of Education indicating proper procedures were followed and the final outcome was obtained legally.
“Once this paperwork is reviewed we’ll issue a certificate stating Somersworth and Rollinsford are no longer in an area agreement,” said Sarah Browning, policy and law administrator for the N.H. Department of Education. “The agreement will essentially be dissolved because it only consists of two parties.”
Browning said last week’s meeting at the Londergan Hall in Concord was relatively brief, with few questions posed during the discussion. She said most of the meeting was an overview by Rollinsford officials explaining why the decision to withdraw had come forward.
“The fact that Rollinsford voters approved proposed amendments and Somersworth later defeated them … things just seemed to be following a natural course,” she said of the explanation given by Rollinsford to withdraw. “If it’s an agreement both parties need to work together. This is a result of Rollinsford getting tired of that process and now looking to try something new.”
Currently, students from kindergarten through Grade 6 attend classes at Rollinsford Grade School, while Grades 7 through 12 are educated in Somersworth. Rollinsford pays tuition to Somersworth as part of their agreement, which has been in effect since 1968.
The proposal, which wouldn’t take effect until September 2015, would send 30 students to Grade 9 at Marshwood High, with other grade students enrolling on a yearly graduated system. Eventually, this number will total 180 Rollinsford students in Grades 7-12 by Sept. 1, 2018.
At a meeting earlier this year in August, SAD 35 Superintendent Mary Nash said the proposal was an excellent opportunity to restore enrollment levels — which have been slumping in recent years.
During the past 10 years the SAD 35 district has experienced a decline in its student population. SAD 35 enrollment leveled off in fiscal year ’07, ’08, and ’09 with approximately 2,550 students.
More recently, the district has seen a steady decline in its school-age population in fiscal year ’10, ’11, ’12 and ’13, where the fiscal year ’13 subsidy enrollment was listed at 2,402 students.
These 180 students from New Hampshire would bring the district’s enrollment levels back to fiscal year ’07, ’08 and ’09 levels.
Distributed by MCT Information Services