Saturday, March 01, 2003


Many thanks to former State Board of Education member Kathy Wilmot for providing this update:

Last Monday, Feb. 24: bills regarding reorganization of districts were heard before the Education Committee. Discussion was fairly general; an emotional issue as always. A study of the issue is a likely result.

Tuesday: the Governor's proposal to eliminate paying for state wards' education (LB 417) was one of the hearings. Things were heated during this discussion as well. Many school districts presented testimony in opposition, citing the additional costs to their districts if the state does not continue to pay. Private providers, such as Uta Halle and Boys and Girls Town were also opposed. NDE testified in opposition on behalf of the Department and the State Board. NDE cited the potential financial burden that would result to districts. HHS was the only supporter of the bill.

Also Tuesday: LB 249 (changes the option enrollment deadline and eligibility provision) was up for hearing. Commissioner Christensen testified on behalf of the Department/State Board. A letter from SBE President Scheer was also entered into the record. The letter explained the Board's support of this compromise position (July 1 deadline for option kids, and 90-day ineligibility after that date), citing the Board resolution in support of LB 249. All testimony supported this bill, with the exception of Maxwell Schools. Their representative stated there is no enforcement mechanism if the law is not followed and requested an enforcement provision. Some say Senator Raikes is not too enamored with LB 249 as he prefers no eligibility sanctions for option kids. (The NSAA always states this provision is needed to stop "recruitment"; however, in testimony before the SBE in late 2002, Jim Tenopir, executive director of the NSAA, could not cite a single instance of "recruitment." (Editor's Note: at that time, Kathy Wilmot suggested that provisions should be made to penalize coaches guilty of "recruitment" rather than punishing kids whose parents decide to move their membership. This provision not only impacts students in sports, but speech students, band, chorus, debate team members, etc. . . . all activities.)

Thursday: LB 163 (authorizing ESU's to exceed the maximum tax levy if core service dollars are reduced) was before the Revenue Committee. Russ Inbody of NDE testified in support and entered a support letter from the Board into the record. LB 769, Senator Hartnett's bill exempting expenditures for school resource officers from levy expenditure limits, was also heard. NDE personnel again testified in support on behalf of NDE and the State Board.

Education-related hearings scheduled next week include:

Monday (Education Committee):

LB 264 - Authored by NDE; introduced by Sen. Raikes; gives authority to the Board to provide flexibility for types of teacher certificates and identifies minimum and maximum requirements for certificates. This bill has support from districts trying to hire out-of-state teachers, and is supported by NSEA. This bill takes away some authority of the Legislature and increases the authority of NDE. NDE staff will no doubt testify in support. The SBE earlier determined to send a letter of support for the record.

LB 684 - Proposed by NDE to make the Private Postsecondary Career Schools program in NDE become self-funding in the next 3 years and reduce state expenditures for this program. In addition, it clears up some language in the statute. Staff will testify in support.

Tuesday (Education Committee):

LB 172 -- (Sen. Foley) to eliminate a requirement for districts to provide abortion information. NDE staff plans to testify in support. NDE refers to this requirement as a "paper burden for districts."

LB 778 -- (Sen. Beutler) bill calling for a single test in 2007-08, adding additional grades to have standards and tests, and adding a grade for the writing assessment. SBE President Steve Scheer and Vice-President Fred Meyer are expected to present testimony in opposition to the bill. No doubt Christensen will "explain" that his current "locally developed, multiple assessment" plan is the best in the world. He'll fail to mention the frustrated teachers, the teachers who have retired early, the students who detest the current system and the multiple millions of dollars being spent on his unproven experiment.

Also on Monday:

The Appropriations Committee will no doubt be lobbied heavily by NDE in an effort to "save their budget." If you have some feelings about whether NDE could shave a little "pork," you might consider making your own statements as to where the "pork" is and how -- in a time of war, drought, etc. -- there are some "other" important places to spend our hard earned tax dollars. Maybe some of those dollars would be better spent in local districts?

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