He said the department is trimming positions through attrition -- although he told the Senate Education Committee many of those who leave come back on a temporary basis.
The amount of money spent by the department and by central offices in counties across the state is paltry compared to the total spent on public elementary and secondary education, he said.
"You could eliminate Building 6 and still only cut one third of 1 percent. You could eliminate all of the central offices in the state and the Department of Education and only eliminate 2 percent of that, which would be about $28 million," Phares said.
Spending on public education consumes about half of the state's general revenue budget, or about $4 billion.
Hale also dislikes a section of the bill concerning faculty senates.
The AFT says the bill would mandate only one faculty senate meeting period a year, as compared to the six meetings mandated in current state law. She said that would reduce time for teacher collaboration.
Tomblin's staff members have said the bill would let faculty senates meet on any non-instructional day. Hale agreed but said it would be up to the principal to allow those meetings.
Hallie Mason, Tomblin's public policy director, and Hale also disagreed on a provision concerning days spent by students at state athletic tournaments.
Hale said the bill no longer would allow school officials to count "Instructional Support Enrichment Days" as instructional days, but it specifically says schools could count days spent in Charleston at the state basketball tournament as class time.
Mason said that was a mischaracterization.
Current law says boards "shall" count the days at athletic tournaments as instructional time. The bill says boards "may" count the days.
The meeting marked the latest round of disagreements over the bill between the AFT, governor's staff and Department of Education.
The fight was expected to continue when the committee met later Tuesday. Dale Lee, head of the West Virginia Education Association, was to speak. His views are similar to those of the AFT, and he has publicly criticized the bill.
Committee members so far have spent little time on discussion of the bill among themselves.
Chairman Bob Plymale, D-Wayne, plans to bring the bill up for a vote sometime Thursday.