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Ken-Ton backs away from testing boycott

WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

The Kenmore-Tonawanda School Board has backed off from its proposed boycott of the state's standardized testing. Board members held a special session Wednesday night, voting unanimously to abandon the boycott. 

"So I would urge all board members, when put to a motion, to vote no," said Bob Dana, Ken-Ton School Board President.

Dana did an about-face, fearing retribution from the State Education Department and advised against the boycott.

"I regret what it has done to the superintendent.  I full expected and I said from the start that I didn't expect administrators would support or should support because they would put their licenses in jeopardy," he said.

The State Education Department warned the district it could be lose $50 million in funding, board members would be fired and teachers and administrators would lose certification. 

Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley
Ken-Ton Board members discussed the boycott before voting against it.

One by one Wednesday evening board members spoke proudly of their fight, but realized they needed to back down.  

"You know we really don't know all the repercussions if we were to vote yes because they were so vague. I think we would have to say no to these proposals as a responsible thing to do," said Board member Anne Marie Gibson.

Instead, Dana encouraged the school board to support the creation of a Western New York coalition to improve public education to fight against Common Core testing. 

A representative from state Senator Marc Panepinto's office voiced support for the proposed effort. The board unanimously approved forming the coalition.

Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley
Representative from State Senator Marc Panepinto's office appeared at Ken-Ton meeting.

After the vote Dana said they had to protect the district.

Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley
Ken-Ton Board President Bob Dana explained to reporters why they needed to vote against a boycott he had earlier supported.

"I don't think we ever had a doubt that we would be removed one way or another. And either they would file an injunction, which they could do, or whether they removed us from office," said Dana.

Students in grades 3rd through 8th are scheduled to take state tests next week. Parent Kathy Schinaman   has a 7th and 10th grader. She said her children have opted out in the past and her 7th grader will next week. 

"I don't disagree with the testing, what I disagree with is what comes along with the test. How it is being done," said Schinaman.

Schinaman tells WBFO News she was pleased with the board's action saying they showed strength in their decision. 

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