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Lawmakers hold off on dismantling State Board of Ed

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Delaware Public Media
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Delaware’s State Board of Education will stick around – at least for now.

Frustration among teachers, administrators, parents and even lawmakers prompted the Joint Sunset Committee to consider completely eliminating the seven member State Board Tuesday.

In the past, they say the body has been opaque, unresponsive to public comment – when they allow it – and it doesn’t have a well-defined role.

“Even at the end of the day, I’m still a bit confused as to exactly what the State Board’s job is, exactly why we need a State Board of Education and a [Department of Education],” said Rep. Jeff Spiegelman (R-Clayton).

Even though the Board agreed to make its meetings more accessible and better outline how it fits in state government, he says it’ll take substantial change before he considers keeping it around.

Under the proposal, the State Board's duties would be divided among the Department of Education, school districts and Delaware’s largest teachers union.

Other changes include requiring the group to hold its meetings after 5 p.m. instead of their traditional 1 p.m. start time and rotate the locations to venues outside of Dover.

Right now, the body only takes public comment at the end of its meetings. A new proposal would require them to take comments before every action item.

The Board’s executive director, Donna Johnson, says they’re already working on better defining their role within state government.

“We are looking forward to providing all the information that this committee has asked of us and I believe we’ve done so to this point and will continue to do that,” Johnson said.

Committee members will draft an official bill outlining these changes in the coming months.