Amid sharp divisions, a panel named by Gov. John Bel Edwards recommended Thursday that Louisiana's plan to overhaul public schools be delayed for five months.

The move differs with state Superintendent of Education John White's bid to submit the proposal to the U.S. Department of Education by April 3.

White said that would allow the changes to be in place for the start of the 2017-18 school year, and limit disruptions.

Panel members said there are too many issues remaining, including major differences on possible test reductions, to finalize a proposal in roughly 30 days.

Debra Schum, executive director of the Louisiana Association of Principals, noted that the state's top school board is set to debate, and possibly approve, White's plan at a special meeting on March 29.

"Why are we in such a push without a complete vetting?" Schum asked the committee. "It is much too rushed to be done in a month's time."

The recommendation for a delay won approval on a voice vote without dissent.

At stake is a wide range of school changes sparked by the federal Every Student Succeeds Act, or ESSA, including changes in how public school letter grades are calculated.

More fault lines surfaced Thursday in the rancorous debate on how to overhaul Louisiana's pu…

Schum and others are members of the Governor's ESSA Advisory Council.

Officials of the governor's office and White have been in discussions for weeks on how to reconcile the superintendent's proposal with changes recommended by Edwards' task force.

In just one key difference, White wants to continue annual, standardized testing in grades three through eight for English, math, science and social studies.

State education leaders, allies of Gov. John Bel Edwards and even teachers are embroiled in …

The task force favors state science tests only in grades five and eight and an end to the annual standardized exams in social studies.

Scott Richard, executive director of the Louisiana School Boards Association, said the changes need more work amid "a lot of dissension, a lot of disagreement."

Richard said it would be irresponsible to implement such a disputed plan on students and teachers.

White has said that the April submission will allow the changes to be in place for the start of the school year, not midway through the academic calendar.

He has also noted that state officials have held public hearings statewide, and reached out to a wide range of groups, for more than a year.

Richard said that, if the proposal is submitted in September, it can be put in classrooms for the 2018-19 school year.

Disrupting classes in the middle of the year "is not the intention of anybody," he said.

The differences point up the longtime split on public school policies between White and the governor's education allies.

The state should consider scrapping the annual issuance of letter grades for public schools,…

The task force includes officials of Louisiana's two teacher unions and others who have clashed with the superintendent for years, and opposed many of the sweeping changes in public schools since 2012.

Donald  Songy, the governor's education policy advisor, has said talks with White and others on school changes have been productive.

A panel named by Gov. John Bel Edwards recommended major changes in public school policies T…

Stephen Parker, an official of the National Governors' Association, told the task force that Edwards has 30 days to review White's plan, starting Feb. 20.

Parker said the governor has the option of signing the outline and, in response to a question, said there is nothing to keep Edwards from attaching a rebuttal or addendum to the state plan.

He said that, with or without the governor's signature, the proposal can be submitted to the U.S. Department of Education by education officials.

The federal agency then has 120 days to review the measure, with considerable back and forth expected during those four months.

The proposed test reductions in science and social studies have sparked pushback from some educators, who say the move would devalue those subjects.

Not so, said Debbie Meaux, president of the Louisiana Association of Educators and a member of the advisory panel.

'We have gotten into the mindset that if it isn't tested it doesn't count," Meaux said.

Tammie McDaniel, a member of the council and a former member of the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, said the volume of exams needs scrutiny. "The amount of money we spend on tests is outrageous," McDaniel said.

The governor made reduced testing one of his campaign themes in 2015.

Trimming science and other tests would likely require a change in state law.

Follow Will Sentell on Twitter, @WillSentell.