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Hill School Board proposes study on leaving Franklin

Hill voters will decide Tuesday whether to study the possibility of splitting from Franklin’s schools, where Hill middle and high school students have gone since at least 2004.

A special district meeting will convene at 7 p.m. in the gymnasium of the Jennie D. Blake Elementary School. At that meeting, voters will decide whether to form a study committee that will evaluate the feasibility of leaving Franklin. And although nothing is set, the board members have already had a conversation with board members in the Newfound district, which includes Bristol, Danbury, Bridgewater, New Hampton, Newfound and Hebron. Meeting minutes show the board discussed a possible transfer to Newfound or Winnisquam Regional School District in June.

Details of why Hill is looking to leave Franklin aren’t recorded in the meeting minutes, and board members did not return requests for comment about what sparked the discussion.

If voters approve the study committee, it would include two members of both the Hill and Franklin school boards, the superintendent of SAU 18 and two members of Hill’s board of selectmen. Under state law, the committee would have 180 days to conduct the study, then report its findings to the State Board of Education. The board would then make its own recommendation, but the final say on whether to leave would come before the voters at town meeting.

The superintendent spot on the committee will be filled by William Compton, who the board recently appointed as interim superintendent. He is replacing Maureen Ward, who recently reached a buyout agreement with the board and will leave at the end of this year. Compton most recently served as superintendent in Barnstead, a job which he left in summer 2012.

Hill and Franklin signed an Authorized Enrollment Area agreement in 2004. Under that agreement, Hill sends all of its middle and high school students to Franklin for a tuition price that is calculated each year as a set percentage of Franklin’s total budget. For this school year, Hill pays $251,390 in middle school tuition and $439,963 in high school tuition, according to the budget.

A previous version of this article inaccurately stated that the district hadn’t hired an interim superintendent. The Franklin and Hill school board voted to appoint Compton as interim superintendent on Nov. 7.

(Kathleen Ronayne can be reached at 369-3390 or kronayne@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @kronayne.)

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