Transcript Prepared by the Clerk of the Legislature

Transcriber’s Office


Committee on Education LB 1175

February 9, 1998

Page 144


LB 1175


TAMMY BARRY:  My name is Tammy Barry and I am the legal counsel for the Education Committee and I’m here to present LB 1175 for the Education Committee.  It is the Department of Education’s technical bill for 1998.  I’m going to go fairly quickly.  The major changes that are contained in the bill are:  the convictions that are set aside may be used to deny teacher and administrator certificates; filing requirements for weather and epidemic school closings are modified; option transportation is limited to the same basis as resident transportation; primary high schools will be considered affected districts when a Class I dissolves or reorganizes; state ward receipts are added to the special education allowance; and allowances made in the “lop-off” calculation for prior year adjustments that reduce state aid; motor vehicle tax receipts are added as accountable receipts; funds budgeted for special education are restricted to special education uses; a deadline of September 1 is created for Class I districts to certify their tax requests to the high school districts; and, then, sections terminating the special education funding formula and providing for the Nebraska School for the Deaf are outright repealed.  There is an amendment that you’re receiving and the only thing that is in the amendment that’s not purely just technical stuff is that on the requirement that the primary high school be considered an affected district, the amendment replaces that with any Class II, III, IV, or V school district which has 50 percent or more of the Class I’s assessed valuation affiliated with it.  And that would be the only major change in the, amendment.  If anybody has any questions, I’d be happy to answer them.


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February 9, 1998

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SENATOR BOHLKE:  Thank you, Tammy.  I think this happened last year on the technical bill at about this time of night, but....


TAMMY BARRY:  Oh, no.  There’s a lot more people.  There’s like only one left last year.


SENATOR BOHLKE:  Well, yeah, there are people here.  Last year you talked to am empty room.  Ms.  Welch, you’ve been sitting here through all this other stuff.  I assumed you wanted to testify on this bill so why don’t you come forward first.  And, then, I’m going to give this until quarter till, so we can have proponents, opponents, come up, but we’re going to have to be succinct because people have to travel home and the committee’s ...  members of the committee need to be other places, SO.


D’ANNE WELCH:  My name is D’Anne Welch I am actually neutral because one part I like a lot and then the other part I hate.  The part in Section 34 where the money is restricted to the use of special ed, obviously I like that a lot.  I recently found out after being angry at the state for several years, that maybe my local school district hasn’t been quite fair.  We still need special state funding for our student.  The part that I hate is the outright repealer, (Section) 79-1187, is the promise that we’ve been hanging on to since 1995.  You know, I don’t know what to say.  Our students at our school are the most costly students to educate.  There’s no denying that.  We do a very good job, very economically, about $10,000 a year, except that they’re not getting their related services.  They never have gotten their related services in the eight years that I’ve been affiliated with the school.  My child does get her related services because I got an attorney several years ago.  I have always worried about the wards of the state.  They don’t have healthcare, you know.  And it’s pretty easy to sit here and make decisions based on cost.  We have kids at the school who are like this now, and it hurts to bring their arms forward.  And I know that can be prevented but it costs money.  It costs orthotics and it costs therapy.


SENATOR BOHLKE:  (Inaudible), I’m going to ask Legal Counsel just to clear up one point for you, Ms.  Welch, on the part that you said you...  that you really did not like, the outright repeal.  And, if that’s all right with you, ask


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February 9, 1998

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Tammy to react to that portion.


D’ANNE WELCH:  Yeah.  I’d like that.


TAMMY BARRY:  Actually, (Section) 79-1187 was the intent to change the funding formula to make it more cost restrictive and to try and curb the growth in special education class.


D’ANNE WELCH:  Well, but I’m aware that you have a bill for block grant funding.  Now, I don’t know.  I’m having a hard time.  I went to the law library and got a copy of Article X and then I sat at my kitchen table and laughed at myself.  I don’t know what’s the best method.  I know that we have a group of students in Omaha that aren’t getting enough.  They aren’t getting what they need.  My child’s doing fine.  I pay for therapy.  Our insurance company pays for therapy.  And the school does a little bit.  And we don’t have skeletal deformity.  But, we have a serious problem.  And the Bellevue kids ...  I don’t even know what to say.


SENATOR BOHLKE:  I understand, being...  as I understand it, what this does is it repeals that original one, remember, where it did the block granting and all that and allows us to keep ...  to continue to let the funds flow with the lid on it.  Remember when that was supposed to go away this year.  This allows that to continue on.


D’ANNE WELCH:  Well, Tammy, in the third part of that, subsection (3), says language about we know that there’s this issue that we have to address?


TAMMY BARRY:  There were several in the Special Education and Accountability Commission finished...  completed their work on this issue so that’s why it’s being repealed.


D’ANNE WELCH:  But when you take that away then I can’t find anyplace else in Article XI where it says, we know that this population needs special consideration.


SENATOR BOHLKE:  All right.  Thank you.  We’re taking both ways, opponents, supporters, so just be sure and state so it’s on the record.


JOHN RECKNOR:  My name is John Recknor.  I appear here on my own behalf.  I have no objection to 117S with the exception


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February 9, 1998

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of Section 8.  If 1258 was bad, Section 8 of LB 1175 is even worse.  This is where Class I districts get to play the game of “Captain, may I.” We’ve been having them play “Captain, may I” regarding the levy.  We’ve had them playing “Captain, may I” regarding their budget.  And now we would have them play “Captain, may I” with the primary district to see if they can even put themselves out of business where they want.  And I think that needs to be amended out of this bill so that it doesn’t clog up the otherwise good provisions of it.  And I would urge the committee to take Section 8 out.


SENATOR BOHLKE:  Questions from the committee?  I see none.  Next?


KEITH FAGOT:  Yes, my name is Keith Fagot from Loomis Public Schools.  I am testifying in opposition to Section 8, also.  Two quick notes.  It further restricts the opportunities of Loomis, particularly, to merge with any Class I in Phelps County, even more so than 1258 did.  And, secondly, if that happens to be the case, the economic impact on Loomis as a community and as a school will far outweigh any economic impact upon Holdrege due to a merger with any Class I’s.  Because they will recover through the state aid process, and Loomis Public Schools will have no opportunity to recover, in their community or in their school district, without these mergers.  Any questions, please?


SENATOR BOHLKE:  Questions?  I see none.


KEITH FAGOT:  Thank you.




KELLEY BAKER:  Senator Bohlke and members of the committee, my name is Kelley Baker.  I appear in opposition to Sections 8 through 10 of LB 1175.  It was described as a technical amendment bill, however the provisions in Sections 8 through 10 enact major substantive changes which reverse well established law.  It also has a retroactive effect which confounds me.  I assume that there is some purpose in the design of it to prevent certain mergers that the ...  that have come to the attention of some legislators, but primarily it betrays the faith of those who relied upon and acted in conformity with statute, with regard to affiliation and merger, and who planned their future


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February 9, 1998

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educational courses.  Now this bill would pull the rug out from under them.  It is a not a technical amendment.  It is a major substantive change that should be deleted.


SENATOR BOHLKE:  Yeah.  I think legal counsel did point that out that that part was not a technical amendment when she introduced it.


KELLEY BAKER:  I missed that.  I’m sorry, Senator.




DALE DERIESE:  (Exhibit DD) I’m Dale DeRiese, the superintendent of Holdrege schools, Senator Bohlke.  I guess I just take just a second to say that I’m in favor of Section 8 of LB 1175.  And I won’t go into a lot of discussion because we’ve gone through that...  I’ve gone through that before.  And I do want to clarify one thing.  Holdrege schools does not have a million dollars in cash reserve.  We have about $660,000 which will get us through one month and a little bit of the next month.  But I thought I needed to clarify that.  The reason that I support this section is that it’s hard for me to believe that Holdrege can sit there with 87 percent of one district and 82 percent of another district and has been affiliated with those districts for six years, and not be considered an affected district if they dissolve and we’re not involved.  So I am in support of that.  Thank you.  Any questions?


SENATOR BOHLKE:  Questions from the committee?  I see none.  Thank you.  Next?


TERESA MYERS:  My name is Teresa Myers and I’m here in regard to LB 1175 and we oppose this.  I’d just like to ask you why you guys are out to kill Class I schools.  And it says in here that all the legal voters of all affected districts will be eligible to vote in special elections.  And I’d just like to know why we’re not allowed to petition or vote on something we feel is an issue to us.  Thank you.


SENATOR BOHLKE:  Questions?  I see none.  Next?


JIM HUSTON:  It seems a little bit like Phelps County’s pretty popular here today.  I’m Jim Huston, H-u-s-t-o-n, Phelps County District R-7, in opposition of 1175,


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February 9, 1998

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Section 8.  Again, as a parent we think we’re doing the right thing.  We don’t think it’s fair that we’re being told we can’t.  we know it affects Holdrege.  We’ll try to work with Holdrege.  I think that Phelps County will take care of itself.  And I am in opposition to 1175, Section 8.


SENATOR BOHLKE:  Thank you.  Questions from the committee?  I see none.  Next?


BRIAN HALSTEAD:  Senator Bohlke and members of the committee, my name is Brian Halstead.  I’m here from the Department of Education.  we are in support of 1175.  We do have a technical amendment to the bill.  I have that drafted for the Page if held care to hand it out.  (Exhibit EE) It deals with one of the special education finance provisions.  The auditor for the department has noted that the language in the statute says that we will make seven payments.  And this one deals with grant money.  We don’t actually make seven payments to all schools.  We submit ...  we make payments when they submit claims to us.  So the auditor has asked us to clarify that.  When we had the bill originally drafted, we didn’t get the language correct.  This amendment would hopefully clarify that.  If you have any questions on the provisions of the bill, the summary that the counsel’s written for it does that, but I’d be more than happy to entertain any.


SENATOR BOHLKE:  Questions from the committee?  I see none.




SENATOR BOHLKE:  We’re at quarter of.  And I said we were ending the hearing at quarter of but you’re almost in the chair and you have about 30 seconds.


JOHN GOC:  John Goc, registered lobbyist appearing on behalf of Class I’s United and also Friends of Rural Education in opposition to Section 8 of LB 1175.  Thank you.


SENATOR BOHLKE:  Thanks.  That closes the hearing on LB1175 and closes the hearings of the Education Committee today.