Cooperative Middle School Building Project Spotlight On: Cafeteria


New Hampshire SAU 16
Dr. David Ryan, Superintendent
30 Linden Street
Exeter, NH 03833

For Immediate Release

Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2019

Media Contact: John Guilfoil
Phone: 617-993-0003
Email: [email protected]

Cooperative Middle School Building Project Spotlight On: Cafeteria

EXETER — In an effort to provide residents with all relevant information surrounding the Cooperative Middle School building project, Superintendent David Ryan is sharing the details of each component through 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. In its second week, SAU 16 seeks to educate its community members about the need for a larger cafeteria.

“Providing meals for students is crucial to our work in fostering the growth and development of all students,” Superintendent Ryan said. “The redesign and expansion of the dining space, while permitting us to feed more students at once, will help us maximize instructional opportunities in the rest of the building.”

CMS’ entire school schedule is planned around lunches. This leaves little program flexibility, which is imperative for implementing a comprehensive curriculum centered around a competency-based education (CBE) model.

The size and flow of the current cafeteria requires there be six lunches spanning three class periods. CMS’ lunches start at 10 a.m. and run consecutively, concluding at 12:30 p.m. This means that a large portion of CMS students are having their lunch at what is normally considered breakfast time. 

During each lunch period, two teams of students (200-240 students) are divided into two separate sections of the cafeteria. Each section needs appropriate adult supervision, creating a tremendous draw on CMS’ human resources. When faculty and staff are supervising lunch, they are not available to work with students who need extra assistance and/or time to demonstrate they have reached competency in a certain academic area — a hallmark of a strong CBE model.

The goal of the building renovation project is to reduce the number of lunch periods by half by increasing the number of students in each section. This would alleviate scheduling, programming and staffing restrictions by allowing the cafeteria space to be utilized more throughout the day for music, leadership studies, alternative physical education and other large group activities.

Proposed changes to the layout include removing the kitchen area from the center of the room and building a new approximately 3,750 square foot kitchen adjacent to the cafeteria.

The additional space would then accommodate three 30-35 minute lunch periods that would occur between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. With this scheduling, each grade would have their own lunch, giving students the opportunity to socialize with peers they may not otherwise see during the school day.  Staff would also have a direct line of sight of the entire space, which would decrease the amount of people needed to supervise and therefore free up more teachers to assist students in other areas of the building.