The towns of Northwood, Nottingham and Strafford, comprising SAU 44, are losing their successful four year superintendent as a result of a concerted effort by one school board member in one member district. Northwood school board member Tim Jandebeur, working closely with the Northwood Taxpayers Forum, created an atmosphere that the superintendent felt made it impossible for him to continue. Here’s how the Union Leader described it:
Charging his critics have created a “hostile work environment,” Northwood Supt. of Schools Robert Godomski has announced he will leave at the end of the school year….
“Due to the ongoing defamatory and slanderous attacks of me and my staff, and the hostile work environment that it has created, I intend to explore other professional opportunities,” Godomski wrote….
The decision follows several weeks of attacks at public meetings and on social media aimed at Godomski and the school board over their handling of a school bus driver shortage….
Read the full story here.
Northwood is the most recent case, but Nashua, Manchester, Sanborn Regional and others have all lost school leadership in the face of administrative and budget issues driven by school board members in a persistent posture of dissension that obstructs the work of the board. These are often the same advocates who are active in supporting school choice. Beyond the “Not every kid learns the same way,” rationale, the underlying argument for school choice is that “government schools” have failed. When school board dysfunction leads to staff departures and turmoil, districts like Northwood become exhibits in the case against public education.
And, in fact, a statewide group has been organized to support these challenges, School District Governance Association of New Hampshire. The group is strongly supported by New Hampshire’s leading school choice advocate, education commissioner Edelblut. When the commissioner spoke at the group’s annual meeting, the founder expressed her appreciation, saying that her organization would “strike at the heart of the ‘Yes Man‚’ culture so prevalent in school districts now.”
Mr. Jandebeur is a board member of the association and serves as the group’s financial officer. Ms. Jody Underwood, a member of the Croydon School Board whose push to send some Croydon children to a private school was the basis for the signature school choice bill passed in the 2017 legislature. (The Concord Monitor piece,”Croydon: Tiny N.H. town forever synonymous with school choice” is very much worth reading for the background.) Ms. Karen Testerman, founder of Cornerstone Action and a leading New Hampshire school choice advocate is the chair of the group’s legislative affairs committee.
The school choice movement is active and well supported at every level of New Hampshire public education.