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Meeting Recap: ERCSB - May 17, 2022*

School Board members in attendance: Helen Joyce, Chair (Stratham), Travis Thompson (Stratham), Scott Dennehy (Brentwood), Kim Casey (East Kingston), Kimberly Meyer (Exeter), Bill Gauthier (Exeter), Bob Hall (Kensington), David Slifka (Exeter)

SAU16 Personnel: David Ryan, Superintendent; Michael Monahan, Exeter High School Principal; Eris Hersey, Interim Cooperative Middle School Principal; Sharon Wilson, Seacoast School of Technology; Michelle Voto, Director Adult Education; Andres Mejia, Director of DEIJ; Mollie O’Keefe, Director of Finance and Operations

The meeting opened with presentations from students at Cooperative Middle School (CMS) and Seacoast School of Technology (SST).

  • Two 7th grade CMS Students discussed the Kindness Assembly on May 7, which included a speech from Holocaust Survivor Kati Preston, Governor Chris Sununu and a performance from the CMS choir. Kevin Fisher, CMS choir teacher was also in attendance at the meeting to support his students.

  • SST student (a senior from Newmarket) shared his experience with the program. His exposure at SST led to his passion for the automotive industry and ultimately a career path. Through SST he found employment at a local car dealership. The dealership will be sending him to community college in the fall as he works to become a Master Technician. He was grateful for the opportunities at SST.

Public Input

Anne Sorber (Exeter) referenced the letter sent from Superintendent Ryan to parents of SAU16 clarifying there was no intention to alter the current weighted GPA system in place at EHS. Sorber asked why EHS students were given a survey soliciting opinions and feedback about weighted vs unweighted grades. Sorber wanted to know the purpose of the survey, how the data was being used, and if there is no intention of altering the current GPA methodology, why continue with the subcommittee and the surveys.

Linda Allard (Exeter) having recently completed college tours, wanted to make sure the school board was aware of the university’s emphasis on AP and Honors courses. The feedback she was given during these tours reinforced how important these courses were for college admissions.

Superintendent Ryan answered Sorber’s question.

  • Surveys were a follow up to one conducted in 2020, prior to Covid, and were administered by Principal Mike Monahan and Guidance Counselor Jamie Sawyer.

  • Exploration of weighted vs unweighted GPAs was driven by SST and students

  • Ryan believes it doesn’t matter which system a school uses because colleges will recalculate anyway

  • Data collected will be shared with the board in June

  • They want to be sure all students can take advantage of all opportunities

  • Subcommittee includes Monahan, two EHS students, an Exeter parent and a representative of UNH. This group is now classified as an information gathering group, who then feeds the information to Curriculum Chair Kimberly Meyer (Exeter).

Allard asked if the administration planned to survey the parents and he replied, “I’ll ask the group.”

Superintendent Report

Ryan sent the school board a 60-page document containing all General Assurances, which need to be approved and signed by June 30. General Assurances include all grants (Title 1-4, IDEA Perkins and Adult Ed) following the state requirements.

Ryan reviewed the 2022 college acceptances and reported the number this year was “astonishing.” Ryan pointed out this group of seniors had completed two years of their learning during the pandemic. He continued, “I don’t remember a time when this number of students had this level of success in terms of admissions.” School board member Slifka (Exeter) asked for percentages and trends to support Ryan’s report and reminded the group of the data circulating, warning the impact of education gaps during the pandemic would be seen in the upcoming years. Slifka felt it was important to note baseline performance and continue to track the trends. Ryan replied he would have a full report available in September, and the College Board now uses a six-year time frame to define completion.

Ryan presented three nominations for CMS. The resumes of these candidates were reviewed during a non-public session, prior to the public school board meeting. Members in attendance of this meeting included: Helen Joyce (Stratham), Travis Thompson (Stratham), Kim Casey (East Kingston), Meyer (Exeter), Bob Hall (Kensington), Bill Gauthier (Exeter) and Scott Dennehy (Brentwood). Slifka and Paul Bauer (Newfields) were not in attendance during the nonpublic session.

  • Elizabeth (Liz) Demik, Assistant Director of Special Education

All school board members voted to approve except Slifka and Dennehy, who abstained. Motion passed 5-2

  • Karen Berg, Curriculum Coordinator

All school board members voted to approve except Slifka and Dennehy, who abstained. Motion passed 5-2

  • Clyde Perezcastenada, Assistant Principal

All school board members voted to approve except Slifka, who abstained. Motion passed 6-1

Resignation of Kayla Moore, Assistant to the Superintendent was announced.

EHS Report (Monahan)

A job fair will take place at EHS on May 20 for students seeking summer employment.

A college fair was held at the end of April, with 55 four-year and two-year schools participating.

Merrill Writing Contest Winners were announced:

Fiction: Delaney McLynch and Carly Castaldy

Non-Fiction: Breanne Daley and Hayden Bullens

Poetry: Breanne Daley and Lauren Bernard

CMS Report (Hersey)

Celebration of Learning was held - Greek Mythology was the topic

8th grade dance will be held on May 20, other activities include Lip Sync contest and Variety

Show and Field Day

Upcoming Field Trips: hiking, New Castle Common, Harvard Museum and Hampton Beach

Slifka asked about the substitute teacher shortage, to which Hersey replied it had gotten better. She reported classes are still taking place in the auditorium, but there was less this week. Slifka asked if the pay increase helped, and she replied it had.

SST (Wilson)

Relationship with Keene State will remain through 2027-students can earn up to 8 college credits

Perkins Allocation +$28,000

Portrait of a Student: students have been working on their portfolios and presentations to defend their learning. SB members Hall and Meyer attended capstone presentations

$42,000 were being awarded in scholarship money

Confirmed second project with NASA, led by SST teacher Mr. Greenwood would take place

Adult Ed (Voto)

40 students (ages 17-50) will graduate on June 8

Project with Hutchinson (Newfields) and ESL will take place June through September

DEIJ (Mejia)

Acknowledged the events of NY from this weekend and encouraged everyone to take a moment of silence to process; noted that he recognized he was the only person of color in this space.

EHS – created a DEIJ student committee with Dan Provost. They work on empathy and listening. Next steps are to have a DEIJ 101 - to discuss identity, equity and “isms.” Goal is to create a community where everyone belongs.

CMS – LGBTQ+ focus; they have had 4 affinity space meetings, and over 60-70 students attended

Finance (O’Keefe)

Spent $413,000 in last month; $144,000 special education transportation, $38,000 firewall/technology and remainder mostly supplies

School Board Chair (Joyce)

Proposed rescheduling June 7 subcommittee meetings due to scholarship night and CMS concert:

Ryan suggested Curriculum meeting take place in September, Meyer agreed

PP&C meeting will be held on June 14

Working on lease agreement with Great Bay Charter School; SB members invited to brunch on May 26 for discussion

Curriculum & Philosophy Chair (Meyer)

Women’s Study course will be new for the fall, will count as Social Studies elective

After review, only one course is found to be equivalent for core content credit at SST

Public Session adjourned at 7:42, Nonpublic meeting began after a five minute break.

* No online video of this meeting was available at the time of this posting.

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