Senator David Watters to propose alternative to restructuring Department of Education

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According to the Union Leader, Senator David Watters (Dover) plans to introduce an amendment that would potentially create a study committee to reorganize the Department of Education. Senator Watters’ amendment would replace the amendment proposed by Senator John Reagan (Deerfield) last week, which would have given Commissioner Frank Edelblut substantially more power within the Department.

Here’s an excerpt:

State Sen. David Watters, D-Dover, plans to introduce amendments today in the hopes of stalling a reorganization of the Education Department proposed by Commissioner Frank Edelblut.

Watters will ask the Senate Education Committee to water down Edelblut’s proposed amendment or create a study committee.

“Otherwise it’s full speed ahead if that’s what some people want to do,” he said. “A lot is in flux right now, and I really don’t know what’s going to happen at this point…”

“This is a pretty substantial change being proposed, and there ought to be a public hearing on it,” Watters said. He requested a public hearing when the amendment was presented last week, but a hearing was not scheduled.

“I think we can avoid making this a big politicized issue and find a way to move forward that eliminates some concerns,” said Watters. “I think it’s primarily procedural. Any commissioner has the right to bring ideas forward and change the department, but that’s usually one in cooperation with the Board of Education and the Legislature.”

The reorganization plan proposed by the newly appointed Commissioner of Education would eliminate the four existing divisions in the department and replace them with four new divisions, with names and responsibilities to be determined by the commissioner.

The amendment transfers to the commissioner the existing responsibilities of the deputy commissioner and gives the commissioner authority over all programs, funds and personnel.

Edelblut says he needs the authority to reorganize the department to operate more efficiently.

“I don’t believe the names we have in the divisions at this point in time reflect the nature of the work that’s being done in them, and they are not very consumer friendly,” he said. “We want the opportunity to come up with names that make sense to the consumer.”

Edelblut’s proposed amendment would open the door for him to hire as he sees fit, subject to confirmation by the Executive Council.

Read the full article here.