Matt Rosendale has called to eliminate the federal Department of Education, which last year provided nearly $500 million for Montana’s students — from kindergarten to college — and helps fund thousands of teaching positions.

Rosendale, the state auditor and Republican nominee for a U.S. Senate seat, said in a debate earlier this month that, if given the chance, he would eliminate the departments of Energy and Education as well as the Environmental Protection Agency.

A moderator at the Oct. 13 debate, sponsored by MTN News and Yellowstone Public Radio, asked the candidates to name agencies or programs they would cut.

Rosendale, who is challenging Democratic Sen. Jon Tester, didn’t hesitate: “EPA, Education and Energy.” “Education definitely needs to be controlled at the local level,” Rosendale said.

Eliminating the department could have a major impact on the state, eliminating 2,648 teaching jobs and funding for 37,071 students, according to a 2016 analysis published by the Center for American Progress Action Fund.

Rosendale, who has been criticized for having shallow ties to Montana, did not attend school in the state. He was born in Maryland, where he graduated from Queen Anne’s County High School and attended Chesapeake College.

Last year, the Department of Education provided Montana $481 million for state and student aid programs, including Pell Grants last year, according to department data.

Nearly 12,000 Montana college students received a combined $66 million in Pell Grant awards between 2016 and 2017, with nearly half — $27 million — going to students attending the University of Montana or Montana State University.

There were also $216 million in direct student loans in Montana for fiscal year 2017.