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More N.H. School Superintendents Leaving Or Changing Jobs During Pandemic

Courtesy of Hopkinton School District/Facebook

More New Hampshire superintendents and assistant superintendents are leaving their jobs this year, as part of a nationwide trend many attribute to the stress of managing school districts during the pandemic.

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According to the New Hampshire School Administrators Association, more than 20 district leaders are retiring or changing jobs at the end of this semester, compared to 12 last year, and nine the year before.

The turnover is particularly high in Nashua, where the school board, district leaders, health officials and a group of parents have fought over how to reopen schools safely.

In other districts that delayed reopening, some parents who pushed for full in-person learning and opposed districts’ safety mitigation measures called for their superintendents to resign. But in some of those districts, like Exeter, the superintendents and school board members are staying.

The job of superintendent is known for being stressful and can lead to burn out; the average superintendent tenure is five to six years, according to the School Superintendents Association, a national organization.

Lori Lane, an assistant superintendent in Somersworth who is replacing the outgoing superintendent there this summer, says the pandemic added pressure and took away routine.

“The constant changing of the rules, the paradigms, the scheduling, and all of that - managing that was a huge added layer of just responsibility and stress,” she says.

This story is part of NHPR's COVID & The Classroom reporting project.

Editor's note: This story was updated to clarify the situation in Exeter.