Hallowell resigns from Nashua BOE

NASHUA – Robert Hallowell

resigned from the Nashua Board of Education Monday night after a

decade of service, citing “frustrations” with administration and concerns over the “value” of the current shift in focus of the board.

Hallowell is currently in the middle of his third term, which is not set to expire until Dec. 31, 2019.

“I have tried in my 10 years on the Board to listen to parents and educators and to ask the right questions to understand what obstacles are in the way of teaching our students and to find innovative and collaborative solutions to remove those obstacles,” Hallowell said in an email to city, education and local media personnel. “However, it has been increasingly more difficult to have productive conversations around improving the education of our students. Constantly changing administrations and an array of special interests have made governing the district difficult, if not impossible.”

Through his time on the board, Hallowell has served as board president and chaired the Budget and Finance Committees. He said that over the years he also has been on each of the committees “at one time or another.”

“Some recent stuff triggered me to say that I’m not willing to spend another two years battling,” he said in a phone interview. “There’s a lot of stuff we aren’t addressing.”

Hallowell said in his email that he is proud of his contributions over the years, citing some of them as: reduction of usage and cost of utilities, a dedicated CTE capital reserve account and replacement plan for CTE facilities/equipment, multiple contract negotiations with teachers and paraeducators, efforts to use testing and other data to support curriculum improvements and the use of $50,000 in matching funds (with the Nashua Teacher’s Union) for teachers using donorschoose.org for funding projects.

The latter, he said, may seem like something small, but it is the one thing he can “hang his hat” on, so to speak.

“It’s helped hundred of teachers and thousands of students,” he said. “We are the only school district in the country that does this … It’s a way to give teachers control over some of the smaller money to decide what they need for their classroom.”

Current board president George Farrington said that Hallowell’s resignation is “a significant loss for the district,” but that he understood his frustrations.

“You could not have asked for a better board member,” Farrington said, and mentioned Hallowell’s commitment to the district. “Anyone who saw him speak (Monday night) could see that this was not an easy decision for him.”

Farrington said that Hallowell had told him ahead of time that he would be resigning, but that he believed it was unknown to the rest of the board.

Hallowell confirmed this, and said that he told a few close friends and people who he trusted to help him “bounce ideas” around, but that he kept the information pretty private until the announcement.

Adam Marcoux, president of the NTU expressed thanks to Hallowell for many years of service, and said he was “a bit surprised” by the resignation.

The decision came after evaluating “the value of the many hours I spend on this board and the ability of that investment to make a difference,” Hallowell said.

During his tenure he has seen four new sets of superintendents and assistant superintendents.

“Recent interactions with the new administration have left me frustrated and discouraged as to the path forward,” he said.

He expressed concern that his progress relative to the use of data in understanding the worth of educational programs, and the improvements in student instruction will be lost.

Nashua superintendent Jahmal Mosley said while the resignation was a surprise, he did not take it personally.

On the contrary, he said he felt Hallowell’s words regarding the instability over the years were “echoed across the district.”

“The district has been in transition for some time. I’m the third superintendent in three years,” Mosley said. “The district wants consistency.”

While he has only worked with him for about five months, he said he has nothing but respect for him, commending him as an “exceptional” board member.

Hallowell said that he wishes the newly elected board luck in their term starting in January.

These incoming members were also part of his decision to announce his resignation now, instead of waiting until after the new year, when the new board would be trying to establish committees.

adding, “I also sincerely hope that the Board of Education and the school district are able to move forward in a productive way in the best interests of our students.”

A scientist himself, he said he intends to stay active in the community and “to find a more direct and productive way to impact students particularly in the areas of science and math.”

While he is not currently ready to confirm what his next steps are, Hallowell said he does have some ideas for how he would like to move forward. For now, he is taking a step back.

His resignation will be effective Dec. 31 of this year.

According to the city clerk’s office, since he is leaving his post with more than six months and one day left in his term, the board of aldermen will have to call a special election to fill his spot.

This election, according to law, “shall not be earlier than 40 days and not later than 180 days after the vacancy occurs.”

Aside from the dates for accepted nominations, the election should be handled “in the same manner as nominations for the board of education at a regularly scheduled election,” according to the charter.

According to Brian McCarthy, president of the board of aldermen, the election will probably sometimes in February.

Hannah LaClaire can be reached at 594-1243 or hlaclaire@nashuatelegraph.com.