John DiStaso reports on WMUR,
A state Senate committee on Tuesday recommended the establishment of a legislative panel to study whether recently-appointed Commissioner of Education Frank Edelblut should be allowed broader authority and management discretion over the operation of his agency.
A 4-1 bipartisan vote by the Senate Education Committee effectively put on hold an initiative that critics warned would give Edelblut too much unilateral power to reorganize the important agency.
The committee instead favored an amendment by Sen. David Watters, D-Dover, to set up a committee to study “the organizational structure of the department and the duties and responsibilities of the commissioner.”…
The bill now goes to the full Senate, which is expected to act within the next two weeks. If the Senate approves, the bill would then move to the House.
Before adopting the Watters amendment, the education committee rejected the initial reorganization plan authored its chairman, Republican Sen. John Reagan of Deerfield.
Reagan’s plan would have provided the commissioner with authority to administer standards for approving elementary and secondary schools, to manage the delivery of special education services and set rates for private providers of those services. Those duties are currently assigned by law to specific divisions of the department.
The Reagan plan also would have given the commissioner new authority to transfer or reassign personnel within the department and to use his discretion to assign responsibilities to the deputy commissioner and directors of the department’s four divisions.
The committee approved a second amendment offered by Watters that gives Edelblut more authority but requires him to act with the advice of the state Board of Education and “in consultation with” the department’s deputy commissioner and the division directors.
“We reached a good compromise,” Watters said after the vote. “The Senate Education Committee recognized the concerns that have been raised about a rather major overhaul of the Department of Education….
Reagan, however, was disappointed by the committee votes.
“It still comes out the same way,” he said. “The unions will win every time until Republicans can ever get their act together. It’s just a fact of life.”