The Regional School Unit 21 Board of Directors inked a new, three-year contract with Superintendent of Schools Terri Cooper. Courtesy photo

KENNEBUNK – In a unanimous vote, the Regional School Unit 21 Board of Directors approved a new, three-year contract with Superintendent Terri Cooper on May 16.

“Ensuring our district retains a highly-qualified leader like Dr. Cooper is a top priority of the board, particularly during these challenging times as public education rebounds from the impacts of COVID-19,” said board chair Art LeBlanc in a news release. “Securing a competitive three-year employment contract between the board and Dr. Cooper safeguards stability and continuity at RSU 21.”

Cooper’s contract was due to expire June 30, 2023. The new contract begins July 1 and expires June 30, 2025.

She came to the district in 2020, hired from a field of 18 applicants.

“I am extremely pleased to continue this important work and serve RSU 21 students, staff, and the community,” said Cooper in the release. “I am proud of the progress that our administration team has made over the past two years in curriculum, operations, human resources, special services, technology, and finance. I know that there will be more work to be done on behalf of our students and staff in the years ahead. I look forward to continuing this progress with our team.”

Originally of Monroe, North Carolina, Cooper earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a master’s degree in administration from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. She earned a doctorate in educational leadership from Wingate University.


Cooper began her educational career as an elementary school teacher, and later served as director of employee support services managing resources for a staff of 4,700 employees, and as a school principal for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools.

“I wholeheartedly support Dr. Cooper’s contract as superintendent of RSU 21,” said Peter Sentner, a board member who represents Kennebunk in the district. “She has demonstrated strong leadership in the face of challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic and a variety of contentious viewpoints. Her North Star is the safety and excellent education of students, and this has served the district well.”

Terms of the contract include a work year of 260 days with an annual salary of $160,000. Additional provisions reduce sick leave to 15 days annually and accrued vacation days will no longer be paid upon separation of employment. LeBlanc said that like the district’s contracts for teachers and other instructional personnel, the superintendent also earns compensation based on education status – in Cooper’s case, a doctorate.

“Art LeBlanc and I studied superintendent contracts throughout the state of Maine and conducted an analysis of total compensation of the external market,” said Dawn Therrien, who chairs the human resources committee of the school board and is lead negotiator. “As part of our due diligence, we also evaluated the national job market. Highly qualified, experienced public-school superintendents are in demand throughout the country.”

Cooper’s annual performance evaluation was conducted by the board over the course of several executive sessions and approved on Dec. 20.

“This employment agreement is grounded in market workforce data,” said Therrien. “The board moved forward with fidelity to the data. Dr. Cooper’s performance and commitment to RSU 21, particularly during some very tumultuous times in our community, speaks to her strength of character. This is an incredibly demanding position and I look forward to working with Dr. Cooper as she continues to lead our district.”


“The board understands the importance of retaining and rewarding an administrative leader like Dr. Cooper in this competitive landscape,” said LeBlanc.

“I am happy that we were able to extend an offer to Dr. Cooper that is reflective of her experience and expertise, and that allows the excellent work she has accomplished to continue …” said Arundel board member Erin Nadeau.

Kennebunkport board member Megan Michaud agreed.

“I am excited to support a new contract for Dr. Cooper and to continue to work with her to support our students and staff and make RSU 21 the best district in the state.”

The school board also unanimously approved one-year contract extensions for all administrators, said LeBlanc.

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