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Overall Grade: F

This list represents many of the reasons for the low assessment of the direction our administration has led our schools. It is not comprehensive. 

Teacher Accolades:  A

Leaders to Learn From Award

2021 NH History Teacher of the Year

Champion Awards

SST Student Project on the Colonization of Mars

These and more can be found under News on

School Rankings: D

Exeter High School(EHS) was once ranked in the top 100 high schools in the nation, and top 3 in the state, now EHS is now 13th in the state. All rankings used test scores prior to Covid.

Cooperative Middle School (CMS) has dropped from 8th to 38th

All SAU 16 Elementary schools have dropped in rankings over the past two years

  • Stratham: 18 to 65

  • Exeter (Lincoln Street): 25 to 69

  • East Kingston: 58th to 133

  • Swasey: 10 to 26

  • Kensington: 20 to 35

  • Newfields: 100 to 107

Standardized testing proficiency scores* and proficiency rates:

*Proficiency rates are based on the number of students who participated. The data above is before the “zeros” get added (from opt-outs) and sent to the federal government for funding purposes.  ​​Therefore the proficiency numbers are not impacted or artificially lowered by the number of students who “opt out” of testing. Testing “opt-outs” are not unique to SAU16.

We recognize that rankings are one identifier of education gaps and should be used as an objective point of reference when analyzing academic performance. However in 2018, Ryan touted EHS top 100 Public School ranking, and this achievement was re-added to the EHS website in January 2022, despite having never received this recognition again.

Focus on Academics: D

  • Administration supported cutting middle school reading program 2019

  • Writing block removed from 5th grade curriculum (source: multiple 5th grade teachers)

  • Administration cut middle school foundational math program and study hall in 2020 to allow daily FLEX period (source Eris Hersey, Interim Principal Cooperative Middle School)

  • 2021: Middle school students receive only 15 days per year of unified arts classes (source Eris Hersey, Interim Principal Cooperative Middle School and UA teachers at CMS)

  • 2021: 50% reduction in time spent for World Languages (currently 90 days vs 180) (source: World Language teachers at CMS)

  • 2021: School counselors teaching unified arts classes because of lack of UA teachers(source: multiple teachers at CMS)

Enrollment: F

  • Since 2020 student enrollment has dropped 20.4% at CMS, 9.2% at EHS and an average of 10.5% across all elementary schools. Survey conducted by the school revealed parents removed their children due to academics and bullying. (

Budget/Spending: F

  • 2022-2023: Payroll increased for the central administration office - a 30% increase since David Ryan was hired/ 2019 budget

  • 2021-2022: Budget- 8% Increase for overall spending approved by Joint Board for 2022, while teachers work another year without a contract

  • Highest paid central office in the state of NH; Superintendent top 4 salaries out of 103 in the state (Our administration has yet to provide information to state for 2022; we used comparative data from prior years, specifically 2021: SAU16 $706,306 vs next highest district SAU10, Derry $523,999)

  • 2022-2023: Administration proposed cutting 7.4 teachers (at CMS and EHS) and end GBCS (Great Bay Charter School) funding  to offset overspending for 2022 budget; Cooperative School Board supported these cuts in meeting prior to Public Hearing

  • Proposing the addition of 2 coordinator roles at CMS for 2022 budget

  • Low pay for paraprofessionals and substitute teachers has resulted in hundreds of students spending class time in the auditorium each day completing lessons independently via chromebooks this school year.  At the same time, the proposed 2022-2023 budget reduced the line item for substitutes by $15,000 and the Joint Board refused to take up a request to increase the hourly pay for substitutes during their January, 2021 meeting.

Minutes from this meeting are unapproved and do not include this discussion

Transparency and Communication: F

  • Not communicating initiatives with the public until after school board approves: 

    • cutting 6th grade reading program

  • hiring DEIJ director through Cooperative School Budget without introducing program to the community first

  • Introducing 6th grade academy to justify reductions in workforce (which is currently a concept–not a plan) which was unveiled publicly before the CMS teachers and staff were made aware of the concept

  • offering early retirement to teachers in order to rehire less expensive staff –rolled out to Budget Advisory before the teachers, community and school board were aware (Budget Advisory meeting, October 2020)

  • hiring 2Revolutions to overhaul curriculum without input from teachers and community

  • School Board communicating sporadically : responding to emails from some, but not all; selective participation by School Board members in an official capacity with certain social media groups that limit membership (data on file)

  • Confusion regarding mask matrix (data on file)

  • 2020: Cooperative School Board entered into a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with unions that did not allow for flexibility for return to in person learning and did not reveal the existence of this agreement as the reason it would be impossible prior to Executive Orders from the Governor; continued to schedule meetings and offer multiple reasons to parents why in-person learning was not a possibility, even when 80% of parents surveyed requested a return to in-person learning

  • (Data on file; as it is no longer available on the SAU16 website)

  • Reliance upon PR Agency to handle communication despite the fact that communication is one of the defined goals for the Superintendent Ryan by the School Board

  • Unprecedented number of right to know (RSA 91-A) requests due to lack of trust from the community

  • Difficulty navigating website to find information: minutes often missing, not posted in a timely manner, meeting postings missing meeting start times and agendas

  • May 2020, Cooperative School Board voted to spend over $700,000 on a Commons Area Project without community input or Warrant Article; the project was initially referred to as a Special Education project. Blueprints for the project obtained Aug 2020 illustrated three additional office spaces, conference area, file storage and a restroom. Thompson recommended budgeting for it, Hall suggested renaming it the High School project and “the money is available now (in unreserved funds), Bauer suggested encumbering $500,000 in unreserved funds, finish the CMS renewal project, then come back to this project:

  • Parents find out information from their children rather than from the administration (CMS students sitting in the auditorium multiple times per week with up to 9 other classes due to no substitute teacher pool, multiple fights/disciplinary issues described by teachers as the worst culture they had seen in 20 years, multiple other issues communicated by parents) During the principal interview, Feb 2022, interim Eris Hersey said one of the top two challenges for CMS was public relations.

  • 2020-21: Claims from school board and administration to local media that they were subjected to threats; however, no documents could be produced by the administration or school board to verify such claims. Additionally, the local police department revealed only one phone call had been received by the central office of SAU16 from an out of state resident (RSA 91-A : SAU16 was unable to produce any evidence of threats as Ryan reported in the media. RSA 91-A: Exeter Police Department–one phone message was left on voicemail from upstate NY resident re: the handling of the prom; NY resident apologized and Ryan agreed with Exeter police there was no concern)

  • At the recent Deliberative Session Feb 2022, neither the administration or school board were able to answer a question from the audience asking the number of students enrolled in the district. Neither the school board or administration knew the enrollment.

  • Cooperative Board voted on CBA contracts without reviewing them in final format

  • March 2022: SAU16 Central office held up Cooperative Ballots for reasons unknown to local election officials in surrounding towns for this year’s election, resulting in complaints to the Attorney General’s office by residents adversely impacted. Town clerks are struggling to get absentee ballots to voters on time and may not be able to. However, all town ballots were ready and no change was made to the schedule of the Deliberative Session.

(souce: NH Executive Council and Attorney General office)

Data Sources: Image
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