Resident Wants Committee Formed on Charter School Location

A community member once again called on the School Board to develop a solution for its hosting of the Next Charter School.

Glen Potvin spoke in the public comment portion of the Sept. 23 meeting.

Potvin and other community members have been critical of the board’s decision to move Next from its original quarters at Gilbert H. Hood Middle School to West Running Brook Middle School, in order to accommodate the growing DEEP – Derry Early Education Program – offering.

While Potvin praised the board for its dedication and the breadth of issues it covers, he once again expressed disappointment on the handling of the Next move. He asked Superintendent Laura Nelson when the space needs study will be completed and released to the board. Nelson said she had spoken recently with the consultants and, “It looks like it will be coming in on time in late October.” She said it would not be done for the Oct. 14 meeting, and she wasn’t sure it would be done for the meeting of the 28th.

The school provides space for Next as part of its MOU or Memorandum of Understanding. Potvin said in his reading of the MOU, the charter school is eventually expected to stand on its own, with “Helping Next to be independent part of our mission.”

Potvin said a long-term solution was needed and he advocated forming a committee of Derry School District personnel and Next parents, students and faculty. “We are looking for a long-term solution, not just placing them at West Running Brook,” he said.

But board member Jeri Murphy questioned whether it was the Derry board’s place to find a long-term solution for the school. “Is long-term planning for Next part of our job?” she asked.

Nelson said she was reluctant to speak for Next.

Brenda Willis, a board member and non-voting representative to the Next board, said in her opinion, Next would like to be included in any conversation regarding its future.

“We have an agreement with them for five years,” Willis said. “At the end of that, they will either apply to the DOE (New Hampshire Department of Education) for re-authorization, or they will not apply.”

Potvin countered that the MOU was intended to give Next space at Hood.

“The board made the decision to put Next in one of our school buildings,” he said. “The board owes taxpayers and parents a solution.”

Potvin volunteered to be on any committee formed to study the future home of Next.

No action was taken.