Sunday, October 26, 2014
My Account  | Login
Nashua;47.0;http://forecast.weather.gov/images/wtf/small/nskc.png;2014-10-26 04:29:08
Sunday, July 6, 2014

Alternative high school in Merrimack closes, leaving a hole for Nashua students

MERRIMACK – A small private
alternative high school closed suddenly at the end of the school year after more than 30 years of operation, leaving a hole in the educational services in the area.

Since 1981, The Brentwood School has been educating students with a variety of academic, social and emotional needs that can’t be met in a traditional school in a small, unassuming red house in front of Merrimack High School. ...

Sign up to continue

Print subscriber?    Sign up for Full Access!

Please sign up for as low as 36 cents per day to continue viewing our website.

Digital subscribers receive

  • Unlimited access to all stories from nashuatelegraph.com on your computer, tablet or smart phone.
  • Access nashuatelegraph.com, view our digital edition or use our Full Access apps.
  • Get more information at nashuatelegraph.com/fullaccess
Sign up or Login

MERRIMACK – A small private
alternative high school closed suddenly at the end of the school year after more than 30 years of operation, leaving a hole in the educational services in the area.

Since 1981, The Brentwood School has been educating students with a variety of academic, social and emotional needs that can’t be met in a traditional school in a small, unassuming red house in front of Merrimack High School.

During the last decade, enrollment at the school had dropped from as many as 50 students to about 20.

Brentwood ultimately closed because the cost of operation outweighed the money coming in from enrollment.

In 2013, Principal Michael McMurray told The Telegraph the decrease in enrollment was partly because of districts creating more in-house special needs programs, cutting out the transportation costs of busing students to outside schools.

The school’s closure created an obstacle in Nashua, which had 12 students scheduled to attend Brentwood next school year.

Nashua Superintendent Mark Conrad said Brentwood had a small number of intensive-needs students from Nashua, Merrimack and Hudson.

Because of the lack of warning about the shutdown, the 12 students were still enrolled at Brentwood for next fall. Those students have yet to be placed in another program.

The Nashua school board is trying to figure out other options for the displaced enrollees. Although the state Department of Education typically requires 90 days for approving new programs, it will make an exception in this case, Conrad said.

One plan is for Nashua to lease a portion of the Brentwood building for next year and run a similar program at the facility.

Conrad said a budget and outline of the program will be prepared for the Finance Committee meeting to be held at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday in the district office, and will likely be the only item on the agenda.

Daniel Donovan, chief operating officer of the district’s business services department, will be unavailable for the meeting, but the board deemed it best to make progress on finding a solution before the next school year begins.

Conrad said there is a need for a school like Brentwood in the area since the only other comparable option is Clearway High School at the Adult Learning Center. Brentwood and Clearway served students who needed more individualized attention than what’s available at large public high schools.

Both schools offer a smaller classroom setting, but Brentwood offered a particularly therapeutic environment, Conrad said.

Aside from small class sizes, Brentwood had individual-based education, a high ratio of faculty to students and career-readiness instruction through its “extended learning opportunity” program.

The school specifically served co-ed students with educational disabilities such as emotional, behavioral or health-related special needs.