Dr. David Ryan, Superintendent
30 Linden Street
Exeter, NH 03833
For Immediate Release
Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2019
Media Contact: John Guilfoil
Email: [email protected]
Cooperative Middle School Building Project Spotlight On: Classrooms
EXETER — In an effort to provide residents with all relevant information surrounding the Cooperative Middle School building project, Superintendent David Ryan would like to introduce the district’s spotlight series.
Voters will be asked to consider the $17.8 million project to improve services for students, faculty and staff on March 12. All six towns that make up CMS — Brentwood, East Kingston, Exeter, Kensington, Newfields and Stratham collectively must pass the ballot item with at least 60 percent voting in favor for the initiative to move forward.
Each week, SAU 16 will delve into a topic surrounding the proposed expansion and renovation project at CMS. To launch the series, SAU 16 seeks to first educate its community members about the need for additional classroom space.
Since CMS opened in 1998, it has operated with a need for 10 additional classrooms (two pods, which consist of five classrooms each). These additional pod areas would have housed two teams with a maximum capacity of 240 students.
During the initial planning stages for CMS, the building committee identified the need for enough classrooms to accommodate 12 teams with five classrooms each, as well as classrooms to support a comprehensive middle school curriculum and related services. After voter input at numerous meetings and hearings, the number of classrooms was reduced in order to lessen the overall cost and gain voter approval, not only for the middle school building, but the creation of the Cooperative School District.
Despite not moving forward with the original proposal, CMS was built with the base infrastructure for an additional pod area over the technical education classes for future expansion possibilities. The proposed second pod area would be built over the newly constructed kitchen and storage/loading dock area.
Due to increased programming and lack of space, students and staff are occupying areas that were not designed for classroom learning. Currently, CMS is operating five out of eight periods at over 100 percent classroom capacity. A significant amount of students receive instruction in rooms designated as offices, team rooms, the library and the teachers’ lounge, while faculty and staff are relegated to storage closets and team rooms.
While a few middle school teams have their own pod areas, eight of CMS’ 12 teams share pod space with other teams and off-team classes, which causes disruption, confusion and an overall lack of team cohesion.
Although there has been a slight decline in enrollment in elementary schools in recent years, demographic studies indicate that CMS and Exeter High School has remained stable. This is in large part due to families moving to the New Hampshire seacoast with middle and high school aged children.
“Our overarching goal is to align the building with our learning and programming needs, which are currently not being appropriately met due to the fact that we’ve had to use non-educational space for classroom learning,” Superintendent Ryan said. “We believe the current renovation and expansion plan is fiscally responsible, increases student and staff safety, and strengthens students’ educational opportunities.”