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District Communications - News Room

15



Feb. 14, 2017

Dear community members:

There are a number of bills that have been introduced at the Nebraska Legislature this session that would impact our school district. Many of these bills are already being discussed at the committee level. It will be important for you to pay attention to these discussions as they unfold.  The Omaha Public Schools Board opposes any legislative effort to divert resources to educational programs that are not governed by publicly-elected boards who are accountable to the citizens for the use of their tax dollars.  Below is an outline of just a few examples of key bills that could impact OPS. The OPS board opposes each of the following:

LB 630 - The Independent Public Schools Act
– This bill would allow for charter schools in Nebraska. Charter schools would receive state aid and the public school system would be required to transport students living within their boundaries.

LB 662 – Establish a grading system for schools and school districts – This bill would require the state board of education to create an accountability system that would grade schools’ performance A-F based on: (1) student proficient on statewide tests (2) percent of students that make growth in proficiency in reading and math (3) percent of students that make growth in proficiency for the lowest performing 25 percent of students in a particular school in math and reading (4) high school students earning a diploma in 4 years.

LB 608 - Parental choice Scholarship Program -This bill would require OPS to pay 75 percent of the anticipated revenue per student to a private school for any eligible student. Eligible students would be k-12 students living in the boundaries of any OPS school at the lowest performance level. OPS would also be required to transport eligible students to private schools. The remaining 25 percent of anticipated revenue per student would go into a property tax relief fund to lower property taxes the following school year. 

 

There are numerous other bills that would change some aspect of the state aid formula. Some of the changes proposed in some of these bills could negatively impact OPS’ revenue stream in the years to come.  The below outline presents the position that has been taken by our Board of Education for each bill included.

For the most recent information regarding currently active bills at the unicameral, please visit:http://nebraskalegislature.gov

OSERS


The Board of Education of the Omaha Public Schools hereby reaffirms its commitment to ensuring the long term stability of the Omaha School Employees' Retirement System (OSERS). We support the efforts of the Nebraska Legislature to harmonize OSERS with the Nebraska School Employees Retirement System.

LB 548 – Merge OSERS with School Employees Retirement System
This bill would consolidate the Omaha School Employees Retirement System (OSERS) and the Nebraska School Employee Retirement System (NSERS). OSERS is currently experiencing a declining investments balance. The bill would present a resolution to reverse that trend. The bill does not affect current or retired employees’ benefits under the plan. OPS Board supports. 


Students 


LB 595 - Use of Physical Force or Restraint in Response to Student Behavior
This bill would allow a teacher or administrator to use necessary physical force or restraint to subdue a student who is physically violent toward himself, those around him or is destructive toward school property until the student no longer presents a danger. Teachers would be allowed to remove a student from their classroom if student repeatedly disrupts a teacher’s ability to effectively teach. Teachers and administrators would not be subject to legal action or administrative discipline. OPS Board will monitor.
 

Parent Education Funding 


LB 295 – Opportunity Scholarship Act
This bill creates a scholarship granting organization that provides scholarships for tuition and fees for students at nongovernmental, private elementary and secondary schools. OPS Board opposes.

LB 608 - Parental choice Scholarship Program
This bill would require OPS to pay 75 percent of the anticipated revenue per student to a private school for any eligible student. Eligible students would be k-12 students living in the boundaries of any OPS school at the lowest performance level. OPS would also be required to transport eligible students to private schools. The remaining 25 percent of anticipated revenue per student would go into a property tax relief fund to lower property taxes the following school year. OPS Board opposes.

School Funding 


The Board of Education of the Omaha Public Schools hereby reaffirms its support for the following key principles regarding the Tax Equity and Educational Opportunity Support Act (TEEOSA). The Board supports the efforts of the legislature, through TEEOSA, to equalize resources to ensure educational opportunity for all students across the state. Within the formula, the Board especially supports additional funding for children in poverty, English Language Learners, and early childhood education; additional weighting for focus schools; funding for transportation; and the averaging adjustment. The Board opposes changes to TEEOSA that are disequalizing. The Board wishes to emphasize that one of the initial objectives of TEOSA was to provide a stable, predictable system by which school districts could reasonably project, plan and budget for their annual state aid allocation. As such, the Board opposes annual modifications to TEEOSA that are designed to minimize increases or even reduce the level of state funding. The Board supports continued strong funding for Special Education. The Board supports consideration by the legislature of a mechanism to provide for equalization of facility renovation and construction among school districts.

LB 119 – Delay Certification Date for TEEOSA
This bill would delay the certification date for TEEOSA (the Nebraska school funding formula) from March 1, 2017 to June 1, 2017. OPS Board opposes.

LB 144 – Reduced Percentage of Valuation of Agricultural Land
This bill would adjust the percentage of land valuation of agricultural land for the purposes of the TEEOSA (the Nebraska school funding) formula. The percentage would drop from 72 percent in 2017 to 50 percent in 2018; 40 percent in 2019, 30 percent in 2020 and 20 percent for all years thereafter. OPS Board opposes.

LB 265 – TEEOSA: Foundation AID
This bill would provide that each school get a minimum amount of state aid per student. In fiscal year 2018-19 it would be $1,500 per student, $2,500 per student in 2019-2010, $3,500 per student in 2020-2021, $4,500 per student in 2021-2022 and $5,500 per student in 2022-2023 and after. OPS Board opposes.

LB 266 – Agricultural Land Valuation
This bill would reduce the valuation of agricultural and horticultural land for purposes of property tax to 50 percent in 2018, 40 percent in 2019, 30 percent in 2020 and after. The acceptable range to be used for school district taxation would be 44 percent to 50 percent in 2018, 34 percent to 40 percent in 2010 and 24 percent to 30 percent in 2020. OPS Board opposes.

LB 270 – Expanded learning Opportunity Grant Program Act
This bill would set aside $750,000 for the fiscal years 2017-18 and 2018-19 to the Department of Education to carry out the Expanded Learning Opportunity Grant Program. OPS Board supports.

LB 338 – Income Approach Valuation of Agricultural Land
This bill would require that agricultural and horticultural land be valued for property tax purposes at its value of use. The Property Tax Administrator would establish capitalization rates to be applied to agricultural land. The capitalization rates would be set aggregated agricultural use values, based on different types of agricultural land, between 60 to 75 percent of actual value. The aggregate agricultural use value could not increase more than 3 ½ percent from prior year. OPS Board opposes.

LB 409 – TEEOSA: Reduce Base Limitation
This would reduce the budget limitation rate from 2 1/2 percent to zero percent for fiscal year 2017-18 and 2018-19. OPS board opposes.

LB 510 – Installment Contracts
This bill would limit any political subdivision from having a total outstanding obligation under installment contracts to exceed $25 million. OPS Board opposes.

LB 521 – TEEOSA Early Childhood Education
This bill would increase the early childhood education fall membership included in the TEEOSA (state education funding) formula from 60 percent to 80 percent. Would also include calculation for early childhood transportation costs in TEEOSA. OPS Board supports.

LB 540 – TEEOSA: Temporary Aid Adjustment
This bill would add a temporary aid adjustment to schools fiscal years 2017-18 and 2018-19. The adjustments would be equal to a percentage of the formula need of each school district. The goal is to implement a reduction in TEEOSA to assist with state’s budget crisis without making significant and long-term changes to TEEOSA formula. OPS Board supports.

LB 571 TEEOSA: Allocated Income Tax
This bill would remove the minimum levy adjustment from the definition of allocated income tax funds. It would provide 20 percent of the aggregate statewide income tax liability of all resident individuals be disbursed as option payments. OPS Board opposes.

LB 572 – Termination of TEEOSA
This bill would terminate TEEOSA effective Jan. 1, 2020. It would terminate the property tax credit act and Nebraska Advantage Act on the same date. OPS Board opposes.

LB 576 - No Growth in Property Taxes
This bill would keep an owner’s property tax bill for 2017 and 2018 at no higher than their tax bill for 2016. OPS Board opposes.

LB 602 – Valuation of Agricultural Land
This bill would value agricultural and horticultural land using the capitalized net earning approach to determine the value of the land for purposes of taxation. Capitalization rate would be set at 6 percent. OPS Board opposes.

LB 640- Limitation of School Levy
This bill would reduce the maximum levy for districts from $1.05 to $1.00. Funds from the Property Tax Credit Cash Fund for districts would be distributed when the general fund property tax receipts exceed 60 percent of the total general fund revenue. The cash fund would be increased each year at the same rate of increase to TEEOSA. OPS Board opposes.

Schools/Programs 


The Omaha Public Schools Board opposes any legislative effort to divert resources to educational programs that are not governed by publicly-elected boards who are accountable to the citizens for the use of their tax dollars.

LB 630 - The Independent Public Schools Act
This bill would allow for charter schools in Nebraska. Charter schools would receive state aid and public school would be required to transport students living within their boundaries. OPS Board opposes.

LB 634 – Virtual Schools
This bill would provide a definition of virtual schools. Virtual school students would then be included in the TEEOSA calculation. OPS Board supports.

Teachers


LB 525 – Master Teacher Program Fund
This bill would decrease the amount of lottery dollars going to the Education Innovation Grant Program from 17 percent to 16 percent. It would redirect that 1 percent decrease to the Master Teacher Program Fund. OPS Board will monitor.

LB 568- Temporary Teaching Certificates
This bill would allow for temporary teaching certificates. Applicants would have complete an application and pay a fee. Applicants would be required to be over 21, possess a high school diploma, complete 24 hours of in-service training, 10 hours of classroom observation, complete a course and pass an exam on the Constitution of the United States and Constitution of Nebraska with score a of 80 percent or higher. OPS Board opposes.

LB 650 – Alternative Certification for Teachers
This bill would allow the State Board of Education to grant teaching certificates to any person based on their college credits earned, to someone holding a doctoral degree, anyone with a valid teaching certificate in another state, to anyone with two years teaching experience at the postsecondary level or to anyone with a certificate issued by national or regional educator credentialing agency as long as they pass the appropriate subject area examination. This bill would also allow for adjunct teaching certificates to be issued for part-time teaching positions. OPS Board will monitor.

Transportation 


LB 279 – Lap-Shoulder Belts on School Buses
This bill would require school buses purchased on or after date law went in to affect to be equipped with lap-shoulder belts for each passenger. OPS Board will monitor.

Other


LB 662 – Establish a Grading System for schools and School Districts
This bill would require the state board of education to create an accountability system that would grade schools’ performance A-F based on: (1) student proficient on statewide tests (2) percent of students that make growth in proficiency in reading and math (3) percent of students that make growth in proficiency for the lowest performing 25 percent of students in a particular school in math and reading (4) high school students earning a diploma in 4 years. OPS Board opposes.


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