A bill that would remove powers from the State Superintendent of Public Instruction and transfer them to an appointed Director has received initial approval from the State Senate.
The Senate approved the bill 19-10 after a lengthy debate including comments from some Senators who were concerned that the bill could actually hurt education instead of improve it.
Supporters of the measure said that State Superintendent Cindy Hill has thwarted some of the legislative reform mandates. Senator Charles Scott says the change from an elected Superintendent to an appointed person in charge of education has been needed for some time.
“What this bill does is say to us enough is enough. We are essentially wasting the lives of a bunch of children who are not getting the kind of education that they should be. And it’s time to make a drastic change.”
Senator Hank Coe says that students cannot afford more delays in reforming education.
But some worry that a new education structure could cause more harm than good. Senator Dan Dockstader says his school district in the Star Valley has asked that the legislature leave the issue alone.
“When probably half the department’s gone and we have position realignments and programs without legislative approval…that’s a major concern. But I have to listen to those who are successful in the programs who say be very careful…be very careful about changing the entire system because of one situation.”
Senator Curt Meier complained that the proposed changes were not properly studied. Senator Cale Case says a change of this magnitude should be left up to the voters instead of the legislature.
Senators are expected to bring several amendments Tuesday. The bill will be debated two more times.