PLAISTOW — The Timberlane School Board decided on Oct. 17 to recommend abolishing the federal Department of Education. Last week, they changed their minds.
The School Board voted, 4-3, Wednesday not to move forward with the previously passed recommendation. The board would have written a recommendation to the New Hampshire School Boards Association to eliminate the federal department.
“I didn’t see a clear rationale as to why we would ever want Congress to abolish our Department of Education,” School Board Chairman Rob Collins said. “The information that was presented to us was incomplete and cherry picked.”
At the meeting Oct. 17, School Board member Roger Barczak made a 10-minute presentation highlighting why the Department of Education should be closed.
“The main activity of the department is to provide grants to state and local governments,” Barczak said at the meeting. “However, channeling taxpayer dollars through Washington and then back to the states is an inefficient way to fund local activities such as education. It would be better if the states funded their own education programs free from all the paperwork that comes with federal aid.”
In the presentation, Barczak said the DOE’s budget had increased significantly, but that increase had little effect on the nation’s test scores.
Following the presentation, Barczak, Peter Bealo, Michael Mascola and Kelly Ward all voted to go forward with the recommendation. Susan Sherman, Kate Delfino and Nancy Steenson voted against it. Collins was not at the meeting.
But on Wednesday, the board reversed course. Collins made a presentation which shot down Barczak’s claims.
“He didn’t produce all the data,” Collins said. “He only showed (National Assessment of Educational Progress) scores for 17-year-olds. But, if you look at 9-year-old scores and 13-year-old scores, the assessments don’t appear to be flat.”
The board voted again and the recommendation was rejected, 4-3. Collins voted against the motion, while Ward abstained.
Collins said the board was able to reconsider the motion because the resolution was not clear.
“The resolution we had passed was incomplete,” he said. “They had not filled out the form which said what our rationale was. There was a four-page presentation which was discussed at the meeting, but there was no way that would have fit on the form we had to send in.”
Sandown resident and Timberlane Budget Committee member Donna Green said she was disappointed with the board’s reconsideration.
“Usually when a vote is taken with a full quorum that should be respected unless there is new material information,” Green said. “To me, there was not material information that would make people change their mind. There was just new voters who outvoted the original attendance.”
At the meeting Wednesday, Sherman was vocal in opposing the resolution.
“I don’t want to have Timberlane be laughed at,” she said. “(If this passes), people are going to be like, ‘What’s going on down there?’ There would be no special education, there would be no federal funding to feed kids in a free and reduced lunch program. I’m very concerned about that. I don’t want to be known as that.”
Collins said he didn’t think the topic should have been discussed by the School Board.
“I don’t think that bringing it forward at our School Board meeting was the appropriate place to do it,” Collins said. “We’re supposed to be the board that supports the issues of Timberlane and doing what’s best for Timberlane. I don’t see how this connects to those things at all.”