Battaglia on decision to run again, redistricting, Wes Moore's book, and more
How her daughter convinced her to run again
On her decision to run again
For a little while there, Tara Battaglia wasn’t sure if she would seek a second term as a member of Carroll County’s Board of Education.
What a long four years her first term had been, with the virus and the lockdowns and the political division – things got pretty nasty.
But the breakthrough successes made it all worth it, like when she had classes made available in schools that show students how to administer Naloxone, a nasal spray that rapidly reverses the effects of an opioid overdose – a taught skill that will literally save lives in Carroll.
And as for making the more controversial decisions, like implementing the flag neutrality policy which had the effect of disallowing pride flags from being flown in county schools, she approached them dutifully, taking no particular joy in them, but knowing that making tough decisions is what she was elected to do.
Some of those decisions have made her the target of sinister activism from the public, and worse. Her campaign signs have been spray painted over with black, and she’s even received death threats.
Tara could take it though. No sweat. After all, she comes from a time and a place that maintains only sticks and stones can really hurt you.
But when her kids, two of whom are in high school now, started getting dragged into the fray, it gave Tara real pause. She could grin and bear it all, but to put this on her kids too?
The day after an especially intense Board meeting or a divisive vote, other kids would confront her kids in the school hallways or in the lunchroom, glaring at them, saying things like — we know what your mom did….
So when Tara was considering running again, she asked her oldest daughter, a senior in high school this year, for her opinion, because fair or not, the kids would feel the weight of this decision just as much as Tara would, more even in some ways.
When asked for that opinion, Tara’s daughter took a long contemplative pause, and then looked back up at her mom and said — Mom, when I’m walking across the stage graduating at the end of this year, I want you to be one of the Board of Ed members that hands me my diploma.
With a renewed sense of resolve, Tara’s campaign for re-election kicked off in earnest right then and there.
On redistricting, then and now
Four years ago when Tara first ascended to the Board of Ed, she ran on keeping communities together — a message that resonated with the public in the wake of unpopular school redistricting and even closures.
Now, as of the last couple weeks, the spectre of redistricting is back. As certain schools in the southern part of the county continue to tip over capacity, the solution to ease the overcrowding is basically to push entire swathes of students north where the schools have more room.
But Tara advocated for another way. A way that would prevent the unfortunate shuffling of lots of students from here to there, at least for now. And that way would be to consider structurally expanding the over capacity schools so they can better manage the high volume of students they already have, instead of pushing the overflows north.
A few days ago, that is exactly what the Board decided to do — to investigate the feasibility of that option. And while Tara is hopeful it can all pan out, she recognizes there are real obstacles. Namely, that Carroll would need to convince the State of Maryland to contribute a sizable share of the funding for the building expansions — a tough sell considering the problem can technically be solved at no financial cost to the State by simply proceeding with the redistricting.
But then again, Manchester Valley High School was constructed without State funding, so we’ll have to wait and see.
On public comments, Wes Moore’s book, & competing liberal slate of candidates
When asked about the newly proposed and much scrutinized public comment policy for Board meetings, which would cap the number of public commenters and require them to register online in advance while indicating which specific agenda item their comment would relate to — Tara stressed the importance of continuing to hear from all Carroll taxpayers, while holding firm that Board meetings do need to conclude in a reasonably timely fashion, if for no other reason because the central office staff that participate in the meetings need to be back to work on time the next day.
Then she half jokingly pointed out that, even if the new public comment policy is enacted, the Board of Ed’s policy would still be much more lenient than the Board of Commissioners.
On the topic of keeping county schools politically neutral, she said she was aware of the discomfort with Democrat gubernatorial candidate Wes Moore’s book still being included in the curriculum.
She shares that discomfort and would like to see the book suspended at least until after the election, but at this point must defer to the administrative chain of command to actually enforce the neutrality policy that was put in place last year.
And lastly, when it comes to the looming showdown between the conservative BMW slate Tara is a part of, against the liberal PTA slate consisting of incumbent Patricia Dorsey, Tom Scanlan, and Amanda Jozkowski — Tara said she feels good about her and BMW’s prospects.
Yes, the PTA slate overperformed in the primary, but that overperformance can be attributed to having the State’s ultra liberal teachers union spending lord only knows how much on mailers and other promotions.
But now, all the conservative local officials in Carroll are rallying around the BMW slate to help get the word out, and the local money from Carroll’s citizens is starting to trickle in.
When it’s all said and done, more than anything, Tara just hopes to have the opportunity to shake her daughter’s hand on the graduation stage and hand her that well earned diploma.