Debate Transcripts

LB 1219 (1998)

General File

March 26, 1998


SPEAKER KRISTENSEN:  It is withdrawn.  Okay, we next move to General File, 1998 Speaker major proposals.  LB 1219.  Mr. Clerk.


CLERK:  Mr. President, 1219 by Senator Bohlke.  (Read title.) The bill was introduced on January 20 of this year, referred to the Education Committee.  The bill was advanced to General File.  There are committee amendments pending.




SPEAKER KRISTENSEN:  Senator Bohlke, you're recognized to open.


SENATOR BOHLKE:  Thank you, Mr. Speaker and members.  (LB) 1219 is an idea that really came from a group of schools in Senator Dierks' district and the first I heard of it was actually on the Governor's task force on looking at (LB) 806.  Al Schlueter who's the superintendent at Orchard, was on that task force, and he at that time presented the idea that they had been working on, that would be another choice for schools.  As I've described it before, I've said it's rather ...  than consolidating, it's rather engaged to get married.  What it does do 'is it...  if a Class II or III school, high school, come together in the unification, you must have a Class II or III high school' agree to come together.  Then it allows the Class I's to join.  There has to be cue person from each that form a board, and so they have that ...  that board.  And then from that point, there are a number of things that have been discussed that really need to be solved in the interlocal agreement.  We held an information hearing not long ago for superintendents and senators to attend, to...  so that they would be familiar with how this works and how it doesn't work for some people.  I think it's important to realize that it gives a choice to a number of school districts as an alternative.  It doesn't work for all school districts, and I think that there are a number of school districts looking at it and trying to decide if, in fact, it does work for them.  In my looking at it, I would think that it be very difficult to get it to work in school districts that are sparse,; or very sparse.  I also think it would prevent...present some difficulties when you have school districts that are either high valuation or low valuation, to bring those together.  it cause...  it makes it more difficult.  And then the third thing where it makes it very difficult, if there is a long- standing history of school districts who do not get along.  Because then what we're trying to almost do is perform a :shotgun marriage, and that doesn't work very well.  And so there are instances where unification, I think, probably does not work, but.  there are certainly examples, I think, that schools have been looking at where unification could work, and it could work very well.  The bill does say, in its current form, that if you join a unification, at the end of seven years before that eighth year, you must either continue to be unified or merge.  If you do neither, if you go back to status quo before the unification,




you would have to pay that incentive money back.  The incentive money is less than it would be if you consolidated because those incentive payments are at 75 percent ...  or at 100 percent, 75 and 50 percent.  If one school district pulled out, they would have to pay that propportionate amount back.  And so, I know that as we get into this, there will be a number of questions as to how or how it will not work.  I think the important thing that 'I've said to school districts who have talked to me realization that that interlocal agreement that they make is very, very important.  What this does, is you have a common board.  You must have a common budget.  It sets, out the guidelines of how you operate for seven years, or if you do not operate within that seven years, the ramifications; and at the end of that seven years, what your options are; either continue to be unified or merge; or if you want to go back and not do either, you have to pay the money back.  And so the bill really goes to those guidelines.  The committee amendments that we'll be discussing really get to some questions that some school districts who were looking at unification thought needed clarifying.  What if's, how will it work for this?  And that's as we get to the committee amendments, as we try to explain those on the floor, to help you understand possible problems., Now there are some people who said, "I wish we would have just had it the way it was introduced." But the job of the Education Committee is when school districts contact us and say, "I think it would present this kind of a problem in our district," for us to realize that and see, as we bring this to the floor if we could have come up with a solution.  So have we come up with all the solutions' for all of the problems?  I doubt it, and I certainly think that, at some point in time, the Department of Education will have to put out some guidelines for School districts to make sure that they have points that they should cover in -that interlocal agreement.  At the meeting-we had in the Capitol, a number of questions were asked, that would have to be decided upon between those ...  within that unification system, before they ...  they became unified.  And that will be very, very important.  The other question that has been asked is, "How does this really save money?" Well, it could, depending on the ...  the schools that are looking at it.  You look at those circumstances for those schools.  Certainly if you bring two high schools together and you are then talking possibly about looking at duplication of programs.  Let's say




you bring two high schools together and both of them happen to have Spanish.  Well, I would assume that they would decide to have Spanish at one of the high schools.  Let's Bay both of them have vocational education.  We know that sometimes that's a program that can be very expensive because of the needed update with equipment.  They could look to have one of those schools offer vocational education.  The other, then, would be, the possible ramifications of that, could be a reduction in staff.  And that's one of those realizations they have to have going into it.  The other could be the reduction of possibly one superintendent and, of course, there would be a ...  there would be cost savings there.  There are a number of other opportunities for cost savings but, generally, it would be with administrative staff, teaching staff and duplication of programs.  And other than that, I think that we recognize that the new unified system is the bargaining unit and so, for those guidelines or things that take place, if there happens to be a riffing of a teacher, you recognize who's the bargaining unit and also who's the bargaining unit for salaries.  So it's complicated, but I think we have some school districts in Senator Dierks' district who are willing, will probably be the first ...  the first area of the state to work through it, and I think we do have a number of other districts who are looking at it as an alternative to the present way in which they're organized.  I've said that I think it's a real honest attempt for school districts to realize that, status quo is not going to continue to work for them, that it's an idea that they have come up with that they feel still retains to them the importance of the community, staying alive, being able to go out and play each other Friday night in football, and come back and share...




SENATOR CROSBY:  One minute.


SENATOR BOHLKE:  ...  those other opportunities that kids could share.  And eventually, depending on what happens to enrollment in that district, you may very well Bee, after a unification, that they move on and do consolidate.  But you may also Bee, after that seven years, that the unification has worked very well, enrollment is stable, they do not see the need- to move towards a merger, and they're able to do that.  If problems




would come up that I don't think presently people see, but if they would happen, there's the other option that they could break apart, but they'd have to pay the money back and they'd have to do it with interest.  And so with that, I think I give you a general outline of 1219, and we will get into some more of the specifics when we get to the committee amendments.  Thank you.


SENATOR CROSBY:  Thank you, Senator Bohlke.  Before we go to the next phase, Senator Willhoft announces that the has as his guests Martha McGahan and Steve McGahan from Grand Island Martha is a teacher at Northwest High School in Grand Island, and they're under the south balcony.  Would you stand and be welcomed by your Legislature.  Thank you.  Mr. Clerk.  Committee amendments.  Senator Bohlke to open iin the committee amendments.


SENATOR BOHLKE:  Madam President and members, as you can see, we're trying to discuss some things, but I will go ahead and open on the committee amendments and then have an opportunity to continue a discussion with ...  with the Speaker and how we're going to order these amendments.  The committee amendments really deal with the Class I districts, and how they fit into this whole process.  You know that we dealt with the...  some of the Class ...  the Class I issue on (LB) 1175.  This that would be in the committee amendment really, I think the Class I districts would prefer over what is in 1175.  Madam Speaker, I'm having a number of people say to me that they're unable to hear.  Mr. Clerk, I'm having a... 


SENATOR CROSBY:  (Gavel) Could you please keep your conversations down so we may hear the speaker.


SENATOR BOHLKE:  Thank you.  That request was from a couple of people who I think are trying to understand the committee amendments.  What I was saying was that we did address this subject somewhat in (LB) 1175.  What we have done in the committee amendments also addresses the same subject of the Class I's and how they are impacted in a unification.  This really gives Class I's more flexibility, and so I will explain that to you and then I'm sure that there will be some questions.  It gives them four options.  The first, if SO percent of the Class I is merged with a primary high school district.  An




example would be if a Class I is 60 percent affiliated with District A and 40 percent with District B, the Class I merges 50 percent of its valuation with District A and can merge the other 50 percent with anybody.  What it's saying is that have to retain at least 50 percent of that valuation where...with that primary district.  The second is that the primary high school district is ...  when.  they may impact and is that if the primary high school district is also reorganizing.  An example of that would be if Lincoln and Norris would merge, Rokeby and Cheney ,could participate.  It just says that they could participate.  The third is the primary high school district in Class I are participating in a unification, after 7 years, the Class I can reorganize with any district in the unification.  But it ...  before that time, they cannot.  'If they're in the unification, and they are organized with that primary high school, before they would pull out and go organize with someone else, they would have to wait that 7 years that's also parallel currently with the terms of a unification.  And the last is that a primary high school can agree to whatever the Class I wants to do.  The Class I could come to the primary high school and say this is what we would like to do.  An example of that may be Campbell, as we've talked about I think, which is affiliated seven ways.  They could go to Minden and Minden could give them the option.  I'm sure that it doesn't work out particularly well for Minden to have all of Campbell and that Minden could agree to whatever Campbell would like to do.  LB 1175 said that any high school district that has over 50 percent of the valuation affiliated with it is an affected district that has to approve a reorganization or dissolution.  So in that case, there are few options, really, for the Class I.  Here there are four options for the Class I.  I know that if you've not dealt with affiliations and Class I's and how, that works, it may be difficult.  I will continue to try and give you some examples that may help clarify that for you, and so that everyone has an understanding of the possible problems that were presented to the committee and why we thought we had to address this for the Class I's.  It's also for the primary high school districts when they're coming into a unification, to make sure that it's going to work.  And so with that, I stand ready to answer any questions that any of you may have.  Thank you.


SENATOR CROSBY:  Thank you, Senator Bohlke.  You've heard the




opening.  Amendments, Mr. Clerk.


CLERK:  Senator Bohlke.  Senator Bohlke would move to amendment the committee amendments, AM3780, Senator.


SENATOR CROSBY:  Senator Bohlke, to open on your amendment.


SENATOR BOHLKE:  Yes, Madam President, members.  This really is a clarification, questions we had from Class Its.  This says that a Class I does not have to do anything different, just because a high school ...  the high school district is choosing to unify.  And we'd had a number of questions about this.  We wanted to make it clear that they do not have to do anything.  It also has a severability clause within it.  That's the essence of the amendment.


SENATOR CROSBY:  Discussion on the amendment?  Senator Coordsen, following by Wesely, Robak, Beutler, Cudaback and Schimek.  Senator Coordsen.


SENATOR COORDSEN:  Thank you, Madam President and members of the body.  My discussion is not going to be on point with respect to the Bohlke amendment to the amendment, but rather to an overall situation that is still evolving as we speak.  (LB) 1219 is a bill that I believe that it is necessary for several reasons, to place in statute this session.  The primary reason that I believe this needs to be placed in statute is that the funding mechanism that we adopted last year in the passage of (LB) 806 created some rather interesting scenarios in individual districts of certain sizes in the state of Nebraska.  And the other two options ...  actually, I guess, there are three options that schools have, are creating a Class VI, if that's still an option; a reorganization into one district; or merger one district with the other.  In many cases, those aren't acceptable steps for local school systems to use.  They don't fit their need, and I think that unification presents somewhat of a bright new approach that will prove to be of value in many areas of the state of Nebraska, and certainly through the east central part of the state where the schools are, in fact, closer together and there's some uniqueness of population that has resulted in a need for a local school, but the local school is of such size that it is somewhat high in cost when measured with the overall




averages.  With that in mind, the Governor and I and Senator Bohlke, to an extent, have been working on a bill with a number, (LB) 1247, and I would point out to you a number of things that I had distributed which is somewhat unusual for me to do, a letter dated March 25.  Apparently there are some rumors that Senator Bohlke has not been involved in any process, in my and the Governor's theory of putting (LB) 12.47 and 1219 together '.to ...  to address a problem that exists in getting schools from where we're at now, those that are severely affected by both the loss of ability to tax the property in their district through the provisions of 1114, and effect of the distribution formula, resulting in many cases in a significant loss in state aid through the formula that's in (LB) 806; and presenting to these Individual districts, many districts of whom should be part of our educational system in Nebraska into the future, an almost unsurmountable challenge that has resulted, as we've noted in the paper in several cases in levy override votes simply because of desperation.  I handed out another item and this is ...  this I looked at because, primarily the Business Summit and where we ranked in various taxes in the state of Nebraska, and the Tax Research Council's inclusion toward the back of their report of the ranking of Nebraska with respect to taxing...


SENATOR CROSBY:  One minute.


SENATOR COORDSEN:  ...  taxing real estate in comparison with the other states.  And you'll see on this that in spite of all of our efforts to reduce property taxes, that Nebraska is still number four in the nation, when we are approximately 15 compared to the other resources.  I would suggest to you that, to accomplish both a greater efficiency in our educational system, as well as addressing the disproportionate taxation of agricultural real estate ...  that has not changed by the way over the last 20 or 30 years, as you'll find in a February, '97 report by the Legislative Research Division, has continued to grow in spite of all of our efforts to property tax reduction, that 1219, and probably by Select File, Senator Bohlke and I and the Governor should have reached an accord on (LB) 1247 and it will be coming as an amendment at that time.  But to get from here to there, we need to pass 1219...


SENATOR CROSBY:  Time.  Thank you, Senator Coordsen.  Senator






SENATOR WESELY:  Actually, Senator Coordsen, do you need some more time to finish?  I would be, you know...okay.  Well, let me rise...  I know we're on an amendment to the I amendment, but I haven't really looked at this bill before.  It's just a concern that I have, not being an expert at all in the changes that weirs going through now in the education system, but we went to affiliation a few years ago.  We talked about merger, we talked about trying to consolidate ...  this is a forbidden word to talk about, our school districts in this state.  One of the things, the big fight that we've had is that the local subdivisions of government, and here we're adding a new entity, the unified school district.  We affiliate, and Senator Bohlke talked about seven different affiliations with one school district.  Unification, I ...  it just seems to re that we keep coming up with new schemes for local subdivisions to ...  whether it's schools or the counties or the different entities out there.  And instead of simplifying and bringing together our resources to try and achieve efficiencies, I continue to feel we find ways to not do that, to find ways out of that.  And I understand Senator Coordsen's concern, Senator Dierks' and others but, you know, one of the big gripes that I always hear about the state of 'Nebraska is we have so many subdivisions of government, so many different ways are construed, it's hard for the average citizen to follow who's doing what, who's responsible for what, and I know how hard it is to change.  In Health and Human Services system, we tried to change the regions, have the state take it over, and these entities, and nobody's aware of particularly, and we can't get it done, and it's too difficult.  It's hard to consolidate, it's hard to make change, but I guess...  I don't know.  I'm just a little bit frustrated because we can't ever ...we seem to actually be creating more subdivisions, more entities doing different types of things, instead of bringing this together, bringing entities together, so that there's more of a handle on it and less subdivisions of government, not more.  And I ...  I know the intent is to ease transitioning here, but my concern and what I'm going to be asking on the bill is, you know, how does this move us forward to simplifying school systems, reducing costs of schools, and not complicating the situation even more than it already is.  That's my concern.  Thank you.




SENATOR CROSBY:  Thank you, Senator Wesely.  Before continuing, Senator Wehrbein has as his guests this morning 15 fourth graders from the Plattsmouth School, with their teachers.  (Introduced teachers.) They're in the north balcony Would all of you please stand and be welcomed by your Legislature?  Thank you for being here.  Senator Robak on the amendment..""


SENATOR ROBAK:  Thank you, Madam President and members of the body.  Senator Bohlke, I have a question.  You thought you would ...  answer, please.


SENATOR CROSBY:  Senator Bohlke, will you yield?




SENATOR ROBAK:  I'm sorry I didn't have time to take this up with you because I ...  this came to me as an e-mail late last night and I didn't pick up my e-mail till this morning.  And I got a red flag from my ESUs in Columbus, and I just thought I would ask you this on the floor for the record, because it seems to be pretty authentic.  Does this bill deal with lottery funds at all?




SENATOR ROBAK:  You don't ...  you aren't reallocating any.  lottery grants in this?




SENATOR ROBAK:  You don't?  Okay, well, then she must be wrong because what we're talking about is black holes in Information Technology Commission.  Well, I'll discuss it with you later then.


SENATOR BOHLKE:  That ...  that would be good.


SENATOR CROSBY:  Thank you, Senator Robak.  Senator Beutler.  Senator Beutler.


SENATOR BEUTLER:  I'll waive on the amendment.




SENATOR CROSBY:  Senator Cudaback.


SENATOR CUDABACK:  Madam President, members, I guess with the noise level, when Senator Bohlke was explaining the amendments and so on in the bill, I guess everybody else knows this but me, and I guess that's the way it is.  I'm in the dark part of the time, probably most, of the time.  But this is an important bill to me, and to -me, it puts off...  it may just put off for some districts the inevitable, or prolongs it for a while, and I think we need something to at least get these districts in line End some of them want to keep going.  I think it's a'' tool to have the ones that really sincerely believe that they need a Class I in rural, you might say, to keep going.  I think that's the least that we can do for these districts, as small as they are any more, to keep going.  And for efficiency, it makes them larger, and I'm just...  it's exciting to have this before us and I'd like the...  I'm looking forward to discussion on it.  I'd like to ask Senator Bohlke a question, please.


SENATOR CROSBY:  Senator Bohlke, would you yield for a question?




SENATOR CUDABACK:  Senator Bohlke, I know when you were explaining the bill and amendment and so on, it doesn't really allude to this amendment...  to the amendment, but I wish you'd explain a little bit about the school boards.  Currently there are school boards for each individual rural school, you might say, Class I.  Does this take away those school boards, or does it make the school boards ...  would they have any participation.  in ...  or in the big board, how is that elected or appointed or...,


SENATOR BOHLKE:  Senator Cudaback" a great deal of what ...  first of all, the new board has the budget authority.




SENATOR BOHLKE:  Then those...those boards ...  those existing boards may stay in.  place and whatever duties and obligations that they work out in the interlocal agreement would be given to them.  But certainly it would be a little bit like we've




done ...  what, like we did really in (LB) 806 in the Class VI, Class I's and with the affiliated, when you have the budget authority, certainly that board is your ...  your super board, if you want to call it that, and I think we had a discussion of a number of the things that local boards can do.


SENATOR CUDABACK:  I guess my question, would there be on the ballot then, would there be two boards ...  would there be two boards on the ballot, then?  I guess I don't understand.


SENATOR BOHLKE:  No, the local board would appoint to the' board of the unification.


SENATOR CUDABACK:  The local board would appoint one super board?


SENATOR BOHLKE:  One member.


SENATOR CUDABACK:  One super board, what you might say?


SENATOR BOHLKE:  Right.  If that's what we wish to call it, yes.


SENATOR CUDABACK:  But each district would still have on the ballot people to vote for, for the board?


SENATOR BOHLKE:  For their local board.






SENATOR CUDABACK:  Okay.  Good.  And they'd take care of maybe the billings or whatever, that they'd still be in charge of...


SENATOR BOHLKE:  That's part of the local ...  interlocal ...  I mean, that's part of the agreement of the...  in the unification as to spelling out precisely what those responsibilities may be.


SENATOR CUDABACK:  Has there been much input from the K-12s, from your larger schools, has there been ...  on this bill?  Have they been involved and do they support the idea of the unification?




SENATOR BOHLKE:  Well, Senator Cudaback, I think that there was broad support but then, as you know, there are always those amendments that impact a bill and change it.  When that happens, you know, one action causes a reaction and then that has an effect on the support.  (LB) 1219, I believe as introduced and with the committee amendments, I think has general support.  Those things that may be amended on from another bill probably then is where the difference of opinion will lie, and then that could impact whether people were supporting 1219 or not.


SENATOR CUDABACK:  Okay.  Thank you.  (LB) 1219 certainly deserves an undivided attention.  I'm looking forward to other amendments and...


SENATOR CROSBY:  One minute.


SENATOR CUDABACK:  ...  anything we can do to work this out and make it a better concept, why I think we all should support it.  Thank you.


SENATOR CROSBY:  Thank you, Senator Cudaback.  Senator Schimek, followed by Robinson, Bromm, Coordsen and Vrtiska.  Senator Schimek.


SENATOR SCHIMEK:  Yes, thank you, Madam President and members of the body.  Senator Bohlke, I tried, too, to listen to the explanation.


SENATOR CROSBY:  Senator Bohlke.


SENATOR SCHIMEK:  But it is a complicated issue, and I just want to ask a follow ...  a couple of follow-up questions regarding where the property ...  where the property goes.  You mentioned that if, like for instance, 60 percent of the district alleviated...  or unified with a district then 50 percent of the property ...  anything over 50 percent, 50 percent of the property would go and then the rest could go wherever it wanted to go.  And I guess my question is, if that's wrong, tell me, but why don't you ...  why isn't it divided strictly according to where the percentages go?




SENATOR BOHLKE:  Well, it allows some flexibility for those schools, but what it ...  what this does then is at least ensure that that primary high school retains 50 percent.  If you gave total flexibility, what could happen is that someone.  ...  you know, it they start pulling out over 50 percent of that valuation, you've really damaged a system.  And so it guarantees that you would retain at least 50 percent, but then allows the flexibility for those Class I's to make other decisions


SENATOR SCHIMEK:  And even if the ...  the number Of students drops down ...  if I'm understanding this right, even though it would ...  the number of students in that primary high school would drop down below 50 percent ...  am I understanding this right?


SENATOR BOHLKE:  Well, except students really are never attached to the property.  I mean it doesn't address enrollment or student enrollment.


SENATOR SCHIMEK:  Okay, then it ...


SENATOR BOHLKE:  This is really ...  this is really the questions about how much property ...  how much property do I retain or lose because that's where I get my taxes.  And so, you know, that's an important source of revenue for schools and so it's not so much students because you always have the optioning for ...  that students could do also.  But it's really About budgeting and planning for budgets, and knowing what ramifications may happen with the unification.


SENATOR SCHIMEK:  Well then, for...  for me...probably everybody else understands this ...  on what basis does it...explain to me what...on what basis does it drop down to say, 50 percent retention of that property?


SENATOR BOHLKE:  If you are over 50 percent going...  if you are currently over 50 percent, you may be...  let's say you're 68 percent right now, affiliated with a primary high school.


SENATOR SCHIMEK:  And that means...


SENATOR BOHLKE:  That 68 percent of your property in the original ...






SENATOR BOHLKE:  -affiliation agreement went with that primary high school.




SENATOR BOHLKE:  This says that that high school would get to retain at least 50 percent.  Now there may be some people who would say you should raise that, and I've had that discussion with some, to even 75 percent.  This is at 50 percent.  And so this is what we thought, what the committee thought, was reasonable.


SENATOR SCHIMEK:  I'm not sure I'm...I'm understanding it yet, but I appreciate the explanation, and I will keep listening.




SENATOR SCHIMEK:  And maybe ask some more questions.


SENATOR BOHLKE:  Okay.  Let's ...  do you want me to give you an ex...




SENATOR BOHLKE:  ...  try to give you an example.


SENATOR SCHIMEK:  Would you, please.


SENATOR BOHLKE:  I'll just pick out fictitious names, but let's say that you have two high schools coming together.  And let's say one is the red high school and the other is the blue high school.




SENATOR BOHLKE:  And you are a Class I ...


SENATOR CROSBY:  One minute,




SENATOR BOHLKE:  ...  and back when you affiliated, you affiliated about 75 percent of your property with the red high school.




SENATOR BOHLKE:  And now perhaps you would like to move all of it to the blue high school.  Well that would be very detrimental to the red high school.




SENATOR BOHLKE:  And so what this says is you could not, in this case, move more than 50 would have to retain 50 percent, at least, with the red high school, so that you couldn't totally decimate the red high school, just because you wanted to move to the blue high school for whatever reason.


SENATOR SCHIMEK:  So we're ...  we're talking strictly abut transfer of property here?


SENATOR BOHLKE:  That's right, and that's just one of the four options on there, but that's...




SENATOR BOHLKE:  ...  that's one of the four options.


.SENATOR SCHIMEK:  Okay.  Thank you.


SENATOR CROSBY:  Thank you, Senator Schimek.  Before continuing, I have two announcements.  Senator Bruning has found two keys by the steps near 'where Senator Bruning sits, and no one has claimed them.  They are here at the desk, if you've lost two little silverylooking keys.  They say Sauder (phonetic) on them.  The second announcement is that Senator Schmitt has in the north balcony eight senior students from Spalding Academy in Spalding, Nebraska with their teachers.  (Introduced teachers.) Would all of you please stand and be welcomed by your Legislature?  Thank you for being here.  Continuing the debate, Senator Robinson, followed by Bromm, Coordsen, Vrtiska, Beutler, Schrock and Dierks.  Senator Robinson.




SENATOR ROBINSON:  Madam President, members of the body, Senator Bohlke, I have some questions for you.  Senator Bohlke, you're using...


SENATOR CROSBY:  Senator Bohlke, will you yield for a question?


SENATOR ROBINSON:  ...  my time.  Let's get to the mike.




SENATOR ROBINSON:  What ...  who forms the state, committee?  What ...  what's the composition of the state committee?


SENATOR BOHLKE:  The State Reorganization Committee is at least one board member from each size school district.




SENATOR BOHLKE:  Are you talking about the State Reorganization Committee or the board here?


SENATOR ROBINSON:  Well, the way you have it ...  you have it in the...


SENATOR BOHLKE:  Oh, the super ...  we're calling it the super board?  That's one member...


SENATOR ROBINSON:  ...  no, it just...  it says, the state committee shall approve or deny applications.


SENATOR BOHLKE:  That is the State Reorganization Committee, and that's ...  they're appointed by the Governor, and...


SENATOR ROBINSON:  Okay.  How does this here...  if we pass this, how does this change what we did to the Class I's last year?  I have a Class I where you have to meet the levy and so forth.  Does that change that?


SENATOR BOHLKE:  No.  This does not change that.


SENATOR ROBINSON:  I mean, they still ...  regardless of where they go, they still have to meet that levy.  Right?




SENATOR BOHLKE:  They would have ...  with the...  right.  In the unification bill, they would have a common budget, and BO it doesn't...


SENATOR ROBINSON:  Let me ...  put it this way.  By going to the unification, would it be easier for the Class I's to go to the unification process than the bill that we passed last year?


SENATOR BOHLKE:  The unification process really doesn't do anything with what happened to the Class I's last year.  it allows them to do that ...  the Class I's would, nay, we put some of them that we put a lot of financial pressure on them last year.




SENATOR BOHLKE:  And so what this would do would allow them to reorganize in a new way and not have to consolidate.


SENATOR ROBINSON:  So are you ...  are you telling me there would be less pressure on them?


SENATOR BOHLKE:  No.  I would say that it would...




SENATOR BOHLKE:  ...  less pressure to consolidate, yes.


SENATOR ROBINSON:  Okay.  I have a...  I have a little Class I, one of the few I have, I think I only have two of them.  Senator Bohlke, it's a little town of Washington, Nebraska.  I don't know.  They have about 90 people down there.  Now what are their options under this bill?


SENATOR BOHLKE:  And do you have ...  you would have to have two high schools who were wanting to unify ...  go into unification.


SENATOR ROBINSON:  In order for a Class I to go in, they would have to have two schools that would ...  okay.  How ...  what happens if the schools ...  the schools go together, when do eventually they have to consolidate?  Do they ever have to consolidate?  I




know I've had some people ask me, are they ever going to consolidate or is this just a cop-out and in five or six years, then they can get out of consolidating, and so forth?


SENATOR BOHLKE:  Senator Robinson, no, they never do have to consolidate.  At the end of seven years, they have to make a decision to continue to unify or consolidate.  If they don't do either one of those, they have to pay the money back with interest.  But they do not have to consolidate.


SENATOR ROBINSON:  But could they go back to their single school districts as they were before?


SENATOR BOHLKE:  Only if they paid the money back with interest.




SENATOR BOHLKE:  The incentive money they're getting to unify.  They are getting incentive money like they do to consolidate, only not as much.


SENATOR ROBINSON:  Well, isn't seven years a long time?  My gosh, I think four or five years...  if they don't know by four or five years, I think that's enough time.  I mean ...  boy, seven years, my goodness.


SENATOR BOHLKE:  Senator Robinson, actually, it was introduced...


SENATOR ROBINSON:  That's an eternity.


SENATOR BOHLKE:  ...  as a shorter time, but...


SENATOR CROSBY:  One minute.


SENATOR BOHLKE:  ...  some people on the committee thought if they hold together...




SENATOR BOHLKE:  ...  for seven years, the likelihood of them realizing that they really could get along and maybe want to




consolidate would be a more of a reality.


SENATOR ROBINSON:  Like Senator Beutler just want by, and says, well, do you want to give them the seven-year itch before they even get together.  That's enough.


SENATOR CROSBY:  Thank you, Senator Bromm ...  Senator Robinson.  Senator Bromm.


SENATOR BROMM:  Thank you, Madam President.  I have to confess a lack of understanding of the intricate details of the bill, and it's through no fault of Senator Bohlke or the Education Committee.  I just simply haven't had time to spend on it like I wished that I could have.  And so...but I think that I appreciate and support the ideas and concepts that I've heard.  Again, I'm going to want to ask Senator Bohlke a few questions to increase my understanding of the bill, if she would yield.


SENATOR CROSBY:  Senator Bohlke, will you yield again?




SENATOR BROMM:  Senator Bohlke, if a unification occurs between districts and we have three different salary schedules for teachers, I've read the bill enough to understand that the ...  the teachers of the prior districts all become employees of the unified district unless there would be a rif or something.  But my question goes to how ...  what was the discussion or how do you envision the new salary schedule looking ?  Is that a decision of the...  I don't know what to call it other than the' super board, or is that a decision which is included in the unification agreement?  Is unification agreement intended to say we're going to follow St.  Edward's salary schedule or was that established?


SENATOR BOHLKE:  Senator Bromm, they would have to come up to, which more than likely would be the highest, until the next chance to negotiate.  And then you'd have that super board negotiating.  But for some of those Class I's, just as we discussed in ...  with some other portions on ...  even on a consolidation, or when a Class VI ...  Class I becomes a Class III, there would be some cost because they would be coming up to that




higher salary.


SENATOR BROMM:  So the bill says that if you've got three different salary schedules, the ...  the highest salary schedule is the one that's adopted by the unified district?


SENATOR BOHLKE:  Excuse me one minute, Senator?


SENATOR BROMM:  That's fine.  I'll continue to talk, That's a ...  that's' a question which I want to get clear in my mind because if that's to be spelled out in the.  unification agreement, you know, I think that's one alternative, but if it's...  if it's not...  if it's not agreed upon between the districts before they go into this thing, or if the law doesn't clearly state what the result is, I could see...  I could see that being an impediment to using the unification process, as Senator Bohlke...


SENATOR BOHLKE:  Senator Bromm, I was talking to legal counsel who said in ...  this is not addressed specifically in this bill other than it has to be negotiated by state statute in other areas.  Legal counsel believes that it goes to the ...  the outcome would be it would be the higher salary.  We're trying to see exactly how it's worded, but it would be to the larger district


SENATOR BROMM:  Okay.  We'll continue to ...  to kind of look at that, I guess.  The ...  another question, and forgive me for not reading it closer perhaps, but let's say that District A has a cash reserve of $300,000, and District B has $100,000 and District C has no cash reserve.


SENATOR CROSBY-- one minute.


SENATOR BROMM:  Are those cash reserves, no matter what level they are, automatically pooled.  for the benefit of all of the entire unified district or is that, again, something that the bill leaves to their agreement or unification agreement?  That is left to the agreement, Senator Bromm, and the only thing that has to be pooled are their property taxes and their state aid.  And in answer to your other question, legal counsel has said it's the school with the most students, they have to go ...  with the most teachers, I'm sorry.




SENATOR BROMM:  Say that again.


SENATOR BOHLKE:  The school with the most teachers.


SENATOR BROMM:  Is the salary schedule then...


SENATOR BOHLKE:  Right.  With the largest number of teacher employees shall continue in full force and effect and govern all teachers in the unified system.


SENATOR BROMM:  Okay.  Okay.  Then...




SENATOR BROMM:  Thank you.


SENATOR CROSBY:  Thank you, Senator Bromm.  Senator Coordsen.


SENATOR COORDSEN:  Thank you, Madam President, members of the body.  There are many things going on today in Nebraska that most of us here on the floor don't know about, many things that except for the name, we would probably call them part of the unification process.  In my district, and I know this exists in other parts of Nebraska, I have two schools who began their unification process by sharing a football team.  Today, some five or six years later, they share not only the football team but they share the superintendent, they share a number of.  other teaching resources and physical resources.  And these schools are separated by far more than the infamous 15 miles.  I will also share with you that in my district and in many other a areas in the state of Nebraska, there are large consolidated districts that have really no options presented to them by consolidation or merger or any other form of reorganization because they, themselves, are so physically large when they were formed primarily in the late sixties, that that presents just simply insurmountable difficulties in moving children and that sort of thing.  Affiliation for these districts does, in fact, present to them a way of not only reducing some of the administrative costs, but provide them with a way of sharing in resources or programs that they may not be able to afford, based upon their student base at the current time.  I don't know what the final




form of 1219 will be, but I do think that 1219, along with some incentive money and along with (LB) 1247 to provide the opportunity for some of these schools to get through 98-99 in order to determine -'.an affiliation...  or a unification process, are important for us to consider.  We in many areas of Nebraska are having significant depopulation in spite of the state general population growing.  I think it is ...  is, has been and should be in the future a policy of the state of Nebraska that we do our best to provide affordable quality education to all of the young people of K-12 age, wherever they may be located in the state of 'Nebraska.  It probably doesn't mean that every school should stay open as an independent school.  But unification does, I think, present to the state a way of addressing a problem, an existing problem, one that we've been trying to work with for a number of years, that is not available and not much of a solution in reorganization, consolidations or mergers.  So again, I would encourage the adoption of the Bohlke amendment to the amendment, and then the committee amendments.  Thank you, Madam President.






SENATOR VRTISKA:  Thank you, Mr. President, members of the body.  Senator Bohlke, I guess I need to ask you a couple of questions.




SENATOR VRTISKA:  I probably should turn my light off and say nothing because I've missed so much of this, but I'm trying to figure out how closely this bill.  resembles the unification legislation that's in Kansas.  Is there anywhere ...  anyway parallel that?


SENATOR BOHLKE:  Senator Vrtiska, in talking to -the superintendents who had looked at this, they had looked at Kansas.  Now I don't know how closely, you know, this reflects the one is Kansas, actually, but I know that they certainly looked at it.  They started looking at it about three years ago.


SENATOR VRTISKA:  Well, the reason I asked the question is




because I have some familiarity with the unification system they use down there, and I guess, as I said, I probably should wait and talk...  listen more because I missed so much of the conversation.  I'm really not sure exactly what your bill does and how it does, in fact, Match with what they have down there.  Probably the best thing for me to do is wait and hear...  and try to get more of the discussion.  I see there are number of amendments that are going to come up and we'll have to see what actually comes out, so perhaps maybe that's my best choice, so...


SENATOR BOHLKE:  It may have been a model, but I'm sure whatever we've done in Nebraska may be an improvement for Nebraska.


SENATOR VRTISKA:  You think so?


SENATOR BOHLKE:  I think so.


SENATOR VRTISKA:  Well, I appreciate that.  With that, Mr. Chairman, I'll turn my time back to the chair because I need to get more information.  With that, thank you.


SENATOR WICKERSHAM:  Senator Beutler to the Bohlke amendment to the committee amendments.  Is Senator Beutler in the chamber?  Anyone resembling Senator Beutler in the chamber?  I do not see Senator Beutler.  We will proceed to the next speaker, Senator Schrock, followed by Senator Dierks, then Senator Wesely, Senator Lynch, and Senator Stuhr.  Senator Schrock, you're recognized to speak to the amendment to the committee amendment by Senator Bohlke.


SENATOR SCHROCK:  Mr. Chairman, members of the Legislature, if Senator Bohlke would engage me in a little chat here, I'd like to talk about some provisions.  Senator Bohlke, as you know, this bill generated quite a little interest in my area, and I think it can be a useful tool.  I'm afraid that a lot of schools that were thinking about using it will find out the restrictions are such that they may decide they don't want to use it, and that may not be all bad.  It should be only for schools that intend to merge at some future date.  I do like to have some kind of escape clause in there for them, but I don't mind them paying back the state incentive money if they do not want to




follow through with the merger$ and I'll be listening very closely to Senator Raikes' comments.  One thing that puzzles me is if you have a large school district and a small school district that want to unify, how can we keep the super board at a balance?  And is it necessary that all of the ...  both of the teachers and the school districts come under one ...  under one salary schedule?  Can they not keep their separate salary schedules and does that ...  how big an issue is that to you?


SENATOR WICKERSHAM:  Senator Bohlke, will you yield?


SENATOR BOHLKE:  Yes.  Senator Schrock, that's not a big issue to me, but it's a big issue for...  it's very difficult to be unified if you don't have a common salary schedule.  Then you really ...  you might as well just do an interlocal agreement.  The only other thing in reaction to what you have said is that I think this works perfectly well for some schools who may look to never consolidate.  I'm.  not sure that the only ones that it works for are those who are eventually going to consolidate, and I think people have to realize that the possibility would be that they would continue on after that seven years as unified.  We don't know that because I would...I would think in that instance they would probably have maintained a certain enrollment, certain...  in order for that to happen, but I think that could happen.


SENATOR SCHROCK:  How would you envision a super board be made up if you had a large school district and a small one?


SENATOR BOHLKE:  There ...  the bill says that to start.  out, you have to have a minimum of one person from each board, and then it's up to what I keep talking about is that very important agreement.  They can do from that point on anything that they can agree upon amongst themselves.


SENATOR SCHROCK:  It looks to me like it's going to be very difficult for the small school district to keep from being overwhelmed by the large one, but that's ...  that's something they can decide upon and, in this case, I suppose the board could say that you'd have to have a supermajority vote or a unanimous vote to prove a budget or something.




SENATOR BOHLKE:  They may be able to do that but, Senator Schrock, I think that where this is going to work best is where you have schools that are more similar.  The more dissimilar they are, even in size, I would say that the challenges are greater to come together for an agreement, and I think that's what you've pointed out, that this is not the solution for all school districts.  The more dissimilar you are, I think it makes it more difficult to really accomplish what you're wishing with the unification.


SENATOR SCHROCK:  Okay.  I will continue to listen intently to the debate here.  I hope the rest of the body will also.  I hope we're developing a bill that some schools can use, but yet there has to be restrictions in it, and so I commend Senator Bohlke for bringing this issue to us and for the Executive Committee for making this a super priority bill and the Speaker.


SENATOR WICKERSHAM:  Thank you, Senator Schrock.  Senator Dierks, followed by Senator Wesely, Senator Lynch.


SENATOR DIERKS:  Thank you, Mr. President, and members of the Legislature.  I had my light on earlier but I turned it off because I didn't want to necessarily speak to the committee amendments.  I just wanted to remind the body a little bit about the process we're in.  This whole process came about as a result of some conversations that four superintendents had in Ewing, Orchard, Clearwater and Ewing, Nebraska, my home being Ewing.  I entered that conversation probably after they'd had two or three of these meetings.  That occurred sometime ...  that occurred sometime in November of '96, 1 believe.  At that point, we started meeting with schools boards, and then we started meeting with citizens in the district, patrons of the district.  The thing was carefully planned and I think that the ...  when we brought this, I think Senator Bohlke indicated that this was brought to her attention during an interim study hearing...  or study on school finance that the Governor put together and Al Schlueter is the superintendent at Orchard participated in it.  He started talking to her about this process.  It became evident after we got into it a little ways that we needed what they called an interlocal agree for this unification to take place.  One day, one evening in Norfolk, we all met at a restaurant there, all the schools, all the superintendents, all the school




board members.  The Governor flew out, so did Doug Christiansen, the Commissioner of Education, and so did 'Tammy with Senator Bohlke's office.  In our conversations that evening it became evident that we also needed this interlocal agreement.  So the instructions were, when we got away from that meeting, that we would develop legislation that would provide this interlocal agreement.  That is in 1219.  That's what 1219 is all about.  The .,workings of the school district will be mostly in the hands of the super district.  This is not a heavy-handed management type piece of legislation.  This doesn't tell these school districts how to hire teachers, or what to pay, or how to operate their transportation system, this is Just strictly an organizational thing.  And they will have their own responsibilities as far as running the schools, just like they do today.  It's a simple process, I think, that needs interlocal agreement for it to happen.  We think- it's an ideal process for certain of the schools in our state that are suffering from some of the disadvantages of funding that they've seen with 1114 and with 806.  It's an opportunity for some of the smaller schools to retain their identify, the communities to retain their identity.  We think it holds a whole lot of promise, we think it's a very positive step, and I would urge your support of the bill.  Thank you.




SENATOR CROSBY:  Thank you, Senator Dierks.  Before continuing, Senator Beutler has as his guests today, and they're under the south balcony, his mother, Dorothy Beutler, and his aunt, Elizabeth Braun.  Would you please stand and be welcomed by your Legislature.  Thank you for being here.  Continuing the debate on the Bohlke amendment to the committee amendment.- Senator Wesely, followed by Lynch, Stuhr, Beutler, and Bromm.  Senator Wesely.  Senator Wesely.  I don't see Senator Wesely.  Senator Lynch.


SENATOR LYNCH:  Madam Chairman and members, as I listen to debate regarding super school districts, consolidated school districts, whatever it might be, I can't help but think about a proposal that was made, a few years ago, that deals with this same issue, and it's a really simple solution to the problem, and that's simply having one school district per county.  You




don't have to be 15 miles apart, you don't have to be ...  you don't have to worry about an awful lot of things.  What you only have to be concerned with is that whoever is being educated in a particular county will belong to that particular county's school district.  I'm especially concerned, you know, this sounded like a lot of work was put into this.  However, the fact that it will go on for eight years before we can even revisit the issue concerns me, it really does.  I would like to think that a better idea might be able to be developed within that eight-year period of time.  But we're at the point now, I'm not-sure if you all know this, but there are five counties in Nebraska that in fact have only one school distract.  And there are two counties in this state that have so few kids that they have a school district which simply cooperates with the school district in an adjoining county where their kids go to school.  One of these days we'll maybe get serious enough about this whole school problem to think about resolving the issue in a simple way, rather than playing, in a sense, not a game, but playing the numbers against other numbers, trying to satisfy as many people as possible but, to be completely frank, with I think little regard to meaningful administration.  We know we can save money administratively by having one school district per county.  In Douglas County we have, I think, 12 school districts, that might be 10, I'm not sure at this point in time.  But I know we have seven busing systems, and the buses go by each other every morning and every night, picking up kids and taking them- to the different schools, some of them within a couple of miles of each other in another school district.  This is all kind of silly.  If we're really serious about trying to reorganize, trying to save money, especially property taxes, since as all of you know the schools use 60 to 70, in some cases more than 70 percent of the property tax to pay for it, which is fine.  You know we, I think, the last Tax Research Council program I looked at that reflects on costs indicates that Nebraska ranks 11th in the country in the total expenditure for primary and secondary school systems.  So we're spending a lot of money, a lot of it is state aid, a lot of it local property taxes.  And I'm convinced that the reason we're so high on that scale is that we refuse to recognize that we can reorganize in a more simple way, in a much more economical way, but you know and I know we'll never do it, we'll never, ever reorganize in a meaningful way, because everybody wants to protect their own turf.  And the same




people that want to protect their own turf are the ones that are probably crying the loudest about we got to cut property taxes, we got to cut property taxes, but do it in some other school district, not in ours, .-we don't want to lose our control, whatever other excuse is used.  I can remember people arguing that they used the flag--I fought in the war, so I should have the right to waste money any Way I want to, I guess, I'm not quite sure.  A lot of us fought in the war, that has nothing to do with it at all.  Simply put, I know it won't go.  I'm not offering it as an- amendment.  I'm only offering as some consideration and maybe to try to reflect on some common sense.  Everything you're talking about I can understand why you did it.  But think about why, why we're considering this particular proposal now.  You know, I think most of us know it's to satisfy some people that aren't satisfied.  And if you think this is going to satisfy them, that's fine, you're going to make it eight years, so they're maybe satisfied for eight years.  But as long as it's going to take, that eight years means that will probably preclude us from considering more seriously more meaningful consolidation.  One school district makes'a lot of sense.  It could be that some school districts would be too big, but I don't think that we have a circumstance where they could be too small,...


SENATOR CROSBY:  One minute.


SENATOR LYNCH:  ...  and maybe a proposal that would say counties of less than 20,000 people, for example, should have only one school district, we can work out the details.  But I'm going to revisit this issue again just to see how serious we are.  And I do have concerns with this solution which, to be completely frank, seems to me to be more political than meaningful.  Thanks.


SENATOR CROSBY:  Thank you, Senator Lynch.  Before continuing, we have in the north balcony this morning 50 eighth grade students from Kirn Junior High, with their teacher (introduced teacher).  They're from Council Bluffs, Iowa.  Would all of you stand and be welcomed by the Nebraska Legislature.  Thank you for being with us this morning.  Continuing the debate, Senator Stuhr.




SENATOR STUHR:  Thank you, Madam Chairman and members.  I just rise in support of the committee amendments, and also Senator Bohlke's amendment.  I do feel that this will give an opportunity for schools and districts that are particularly in a great deal of stress and unrest with the passage of 806, and also the combination of LB 1114.  It's real easy, I think, for people that possibly have sent their children only two blocks, possibly, from their home to *school.  But in the rural communities I would like for some of the legislators to think of how they would like to put their child on a bus, if they lived in Lincoln, and have them travel to Seward every day, or if you lived in Lincoln, travel to Omaha every day.  Time is very precious as a parent, and you do want to spend as much time with your child as possible.  I feel that this proposal will allow those districts that want to unify, there will be an opportunity, I believe, to save some costs by possibly sharing in one transportation system, by having teachers, particularly foreign language teachers or whatever, sharing one teacher among four schools.  I think there are a number of ways that districts can look at this as an opportunity, still have the advantage of keeping their school in their local community, and this seems to be a very, very important reason that I am rising in support of this bill.  Thank you.


SENATOR CROSBY:  Thank you, Senator Stuhr.  Senator Beutler.


SENATOR BEUTLER:  Senator Crosby, members of the Legislature, I had a great deal of trouble with this bill in committee and ended up not voting either way.  And the reason that I did not do so was because, on the one hand, if it were at all reasonable and possible, I wanted to try to afford school districts an additional opportunity to move towards consolidation and merger in a manner that was more agreeable to them.  On the other hand, I was afraid that there were implications to this bill that might cause us serious problems down the line, but I didn't have time, at that particular time in the committee discussion, to offer constructive amendments.  What I would like to do this morning is to have a conversation with Senator Bohlke, if 1 could, with respect...


SENATOR CROSBY:  Senator Bohlke, will you yield?




SENATOR BEUTLER:  ...  with respect to some of my concerns about the bill, and maybe that will held alleviate some of my concerns, or it may illustrate for the rest of you what those concerns are.  But, Senator Bohlke, if I may.




SENATOR BEUTLER:  In our statutes we now have elaborate provisions, some of which apply to all school districts, but many of which are framed in terms of the class of the school district.  For example, there's a whole section of statutes that deal with Class I districts, there's another that deals with Class II, another that deals with Class III.  Each one of those has different provisions with regard to how many people are on the board, how you fill vacancies, all of the minutia and detail that relate to the operation and administration of a school system.  Now we are coming with what we call this new entity that we're calling a unified school district.  And my first general question to you is, all of these statutes that sit out here that apply to these different school districts will all, or some, or none of them apply to a unified school district?


SENATOR BOHLKE:  I would say most all.


SENATOR BEUTLER:  Most all would?  If you had a unified district, for example, that involves a Class II and a Class III school district, and the provisions are different for Class II and Class III school districts under current law which set of statutes would apply?


SENATOR BOHLKE:  In the bill, Senator Beutler, it says, if there are an equal number of Class II and Class III districts in the unified system, the unified system shall be recognized by the department as a Class III district.


SENATOR BEUTLER:  Okay.  And in the event that it's recognized as a Class III district, what is the relationship between what they're able to do in their agreement to that which exists in a statute?  For example, a Class III district has a certain kind of board that it has to have.  How is that modified by this bill?




SENATOR BOHLKE:  The school boards exist, but they form a new board.  And so that would be the difference with this, and it's the same type of new board that we have created in other situations under LB 906, last year.


SENATOR BEUTLER:  Okay, so the new board then would be governed just by this particular statute?


SENATOR BOHLKE:  Yes, because it...






SENATOR BEUTLER:  And the composition of that new board....


SENATOR CROSBY:  One minute.


SENATOR BEUTLER:  ...  aside from the fact that it has to have one representative from another school district, can be whatever they decide.


SENATOR BOHLKE:  Among those ...  yes....




SENATOR BOHLKE:  ...  one school board member from.,


SENATOR BEUTLER:  And, not only can it be whatever they decide, but this unification plan can go on indefinitely, is that not so, under the current bill?


SENATOR BOHLKE:  Well, at the end of seven years, before the eighth year, they have to make a decision to continue to be unified, and they could do that, yes,...




SENATOR BOHLKE:  ...  or consolidate.


SENATOR BEUTLER:  So let's say they continue to be unified forever, basically.  And let's say that this is used by a great




many school districts, 'cause it may well be, because it would be a preferred alternative to merger, and then we're going to have all these school districts out here that, have different kinds of boards probably.


SENATOR BOHLKE:  That could happen.


SENATOR BEUTLER:  And then what I'm imagining is that people are going to start coming into this Legislature saying, well they have this kind of a board, and they have -that kind of a board,...




SENATOR BEUTLER:  ...  we have 16 different kinds of boards, this is ail not very fair.


SENATOR CROSBY:  Thank you, Senator Beutler.  Senator Bromm.


SENATOR BROMM:  Thank you, Madam President.  Senator-Bohlke, I'm trying to help just lay some record here for how this thing works.  And you did that the first time I had a chance to ask you questions.  I'd like to ask you another question or two.


SENATOR CROSBY:  Senator Bohlke, will you yield again?




SENATOR BROMM:  The unified board, I'll call it-- the unified board, has control over the setting of the levy and the budget.  Is that correct?


SENATOR BOHLKE:  That's correct.


SENATOR BROMM:  Now some of these districts will.  have a bond issue that they have approved in the past, and that levy is outside the General Fund levy.  And I assume that that levy will just simply go on to satisfy the bonds of that district that existed prior to the unification, is that right?


SENATOR BOHLKE:  That's also correct.




SENATOR BROMM:  Could the unified district have a bond issue?




SENATOR BROMM:  The unified district could have a bond issue?




SENATOR BROMM:  If they decided they were going to put up a new building while they're a unified district, and they wanted to propose a bond issue, could they do that?


SENATOR BOHLKE:  If they could get that through a bonding agency and, you know, just currently, as other decisions before you, you go to a bond, yes, I think they could.


SENATOR BROMM:  Would ...  does the ball address or do we know if ...  would that require approval of each component district of that unified system to approve that bond issue, or would it just require approval of the district as a whole?  In other words, we've got district A, B, and C, we got a bond issue.  Would that bond issue need to be passed in each district, A, B, and C, by the voters, or would just the overall approval ....  District B might approve it, and A and C might not, but there might be.  more voters in B.  Was that discussed?


SENATOR BOHLKE:  Senator Bromm, that was never discussed.  And let me react to what I think, and then we will look at -statutes on bond issues.  But it would seem that every ...  we now have a unified system that the general population in that Unified system would vote on the bond.  And however that vote would go within that unified system would either approve or disapprove of the bond.


SENATOR BROMM:  Okay, thank you.  Would you ....  we'll get back to that maybe on Select File or something.  But in the meantime maybe would you have counsel kind of check that out.




SENATOR BROMM:  Negotiations for salaries, negotiations would be handled by the unified board after this change, is that correct?






SENATOR BROMM:  Okay.  However, hiring and firing of a teacher or an administrator in a particular district, would that remain.  the responsibility or decision of that board that oversees that particular district where the hiring or firing is coming from,or does that depend on the unification agreement I guess?


SENATOR BOHLKE:  No, Senator Bromm, that would go to the new unified board as ...  beings they have the negotiating responsibilities.


SENATOR BROMM:  Okay.  So riffing decision would be a decision of the unified board?






SENATOR CROSBY:  One minute.


SENATOR BROMM:  Okay.  I'll ...  I'll yield the rest of my time to the Chair.  Thank you, Madam President.


SENATOR CROSBY:  Thank you, Senator Bromm.  Senator Wesely.


SENATOR WESELY:  Thank you, Madam President, members.  You know, I appreciate what Senator Bohlke is trying to do.  But I'm going to oppose this bill and suggest others think about opposing it .  I heard Senator Lynch's comments, and we are working through and we're going to spend hours trying to figure out the transfer of the property, the handling of the salary schedules and all that it's going to take to try and allow for this new type of entity to be created.  And in the end all we're trying to do is stop from doing the hard thing, you know, stop from biting the bullet and merging and taking the step of trying to bring these districts together.  I know it's difficult, I know it's hard, and there's some negatives out there across the, state of Nebraska.  But in the end we have too many school districts, we have too many subdivisions of government, we've got to pull them together, we've got to create some efficiencies in the way we




administer the system and that's not going to be easy.  Let's just admit it and let's stop trying to come up with every kind of way possible to get around it, to stop it from happening, to delay it from occurring.  I mean that's, I think, clearly what's at the heart of what's being proposed here.  You know we went to affiliation because that -was better than merger, which was better than consolidation.  And now we're going to unification, which is better than affiliation, which is better than merger, which is better than consolidation.  And in the end, it's all the same, we're heading down the same path.  We're trying not to do the things that need to be done, to try and deal with some of the issues that some people out there are concerned about as they talk about government in Nebraska, too many subdivisions of government, and the biggest part of that is the schools.  Senator Lynch talked about 93 counties, 93 school districts.  You know it's going to come to a point where we're going to have so many of these different relationship out there that it will finally just be easier for everybody to Just throw it out the window and do something like that.  I just...  for all the work we're going to go through trying to work through this, in the end the ultimate purpose is to not do the thing that needs to be done ultimately and that's to change the system into fewer school districts and to get it done.  So, thank you.


SENATOR CROSBY:  Thank you, Senator Wesely.  Before continuing, Senator Engel announces that he has the following guests in the south balcony, 43 fourth graders from Dakota City Elementary, from Dakota City, Nebraska, with their teachers (introduced teachers).  Would all of you please stand and be welcomed by your Legislature.  Thank you for being here.  Senator Robinson.


SENATOR ROBINSON:  Madam President, members of the body, I have a few more questions for Senator Bohlke.


SENATOR CROSBY:  Senator Bohlke, will you yield?




SENATOR ROBINSON:  The seven years, is that on the committee amendments, or is that past of this amendment?


SENATOR BOHLKE:  That's in the bill, Senator Robinson.




SENATOR ROBINSON:  Okay.  I've heard the rumors that there might be a...  I can't support the bill with a seven-year, I heard there's an amendment that might be up to put it down to four years.  And I could probably support that.  I guess one of my concerns is the...  is what we're doing with Class I's.  We fiddled around with Class Its forever.  I ...  I ...  it seems to me that now is the time to ...  they should merge into the other school districts.  I just ...  we've fought this thing forever and I think now is the time to do it.  I have another question.  On the super board, it's my understanding that each district, Class I, Class II, or Class III, if it's a Class III, they would get one person on the board?  Is that correct?




SENATOR ROBINSON:  At least.  Who decides at least?


SENATOR BOHLKE:  The new agreement, the unification agreement, but every school is guaranteed ...


SENATOR ROBINSON:  That's main ...


SENATOR BOHLKE:  ...  guaranteed one.


SENATOR ROBINSON:  But that's put together before the ...  they go together, right, on how many...


SENATOR BOHLKE:  That's part of the unification agreement.


SENATOR ROBINSON:  They would agree to that before they go in.  Would those school board members be voted on by their respective constituents?


SENATOR BOHLKE:  They would have been voted on upon ...  to be on the board from which they'd be selected to be on the unified board.  So, if I say you're on a Class ...  you would have gotten elected to a Class I board, and you have the red high school you got elected to, and the blue high school you got elected to, you would have gotten elected to those boards, and then from those boards one person would go to the unified board.




SENATOR ROBINSON:  Okay.  So the ....  now who would do the electing?  The present members on the board?  It's pretty...I can't see...  I'd rather be able to see it ...  Senator Jensen, could you move a little, please?  Thank you.


SENATOR BOHLKE:  That would be decided upon by the...  in the agreement, but it would be one member off of that board.  I mean they couldn't decide, it could be...


SENATOR ROBINSON:  So they would decide how it's elected, how that person is elected?


SENATOR BOHLKE:  Which person?


SENATOR ROBINSON:  Wouldn't it make more sense though to have the people elect the...I mean I think we used...


SENATOR BOHLKE:  Well, the people elect them onto their board, and then that board decides ...


SENATOR ROBINSON:  Yeah, but that board disappears, though.


SENATOR BOHLKE:  No, that...  that board stays in...


SENATOR ROBINSON:  The original board stays intact?


SENATOR BOHLKE:  ...  that stays in place, but the unified board looks at the budget and sets the budget and the levy.


SENATOR ROBINSON:  What's that board do?  What's the original board do then?


SENATOR BOHLKE:  Well, they could decide, upon adoption of textbooks, a number of things that ...  all those things that boards do outside...


SENATOR ROBINSON:  Yeah, but the big board, the big Kahuna, they shell out the money, right?


SENATOR BOHLKE:  That's right.


SENATOR ROBINSON:  They're the ones that decide on the money.




SENATOR BOHLKE:  They hold the gold.


SENATOR ROBINSON:  Boy, I don't know, it's awful., ,confusing, not confusing, but, boy, a lot of layers in there.  Well, I will not support the seven year, but I hear there might be an amendment up for four years.  Then I might support that.  Thank you.


SENATOR CROSBY:  Thank you, Senator Robinson.  Senator Beutler.


SENATOR BEUTLER:  Senator Bohlke, let me, if I may, continue our conversation.


SENATOR CROSBY:  Senator Bohlke.




SENATOR BEUTLER:  As I had indicated to you earlier, and just to recap a little bit, the area of concern that I'm getting to, which is very broad, I think, and very deep, is simply the resulting inequities or sense of unfairness that might derive from having dozens and dozens of different unique plans out there for each different unified school district, especially if they can continue forever or indefinitely.  And I talked a little bit about the fact that for Class I school districts, for example, we require that all of those types of school districts, wherever they are in the state, have...  follow uniform provisions.  And that with regard to the board that ultimately controlled the unified districts, they wouldn't have to follow any kind of...  any kind of unique requirement -or uniform requirement.  Let's move now from the boards to the use of resources.  The use of resources, obviously the Division of Resources, an extremely important question, a key question, and I'm not sure I understand that completely, and that's why I'm choosing to do this by way of a dialogue, so that I can be corrected at the same time that I'm indicating my concern.  But let's say in the unification agreement you had two Class I's, and a Class II and a Class III.  And they get together and try to I come up with this unified agreement, and the Class I says, if we re going to do this, I want to be sure that every year that I'm in this agreement I get "X" percentage of the resources, the money, I get 15 percent of the money.  First question, can they




do that?


SENATOR BOHLKE:  They would be able to do that....




SENATOR BOHLKE:  ...  if they could all agree to it.


SENATOR BEUTLER:  And that would depend, would it-not, on relative valuations, the wealth of the district, the size of the district, the location of the districts.  But in short, all of the leverage that one or another district may get with respect to another, that would probably enter into the play of how resources would be divided?


SENATOR BOHLKE:  Right, but as we stated before, the unified board has the authority always to divide the resources.




SENATOR BOHLKE:  So they could, that board could override, I suppose....


SENATOR BEUTLER:  So the way this is envisioned, that organizing document cannot control the Division of Resources within the district, is that correct?


SENATOR BOHLKE:  The ultimate authority is with that unified board.


SENATOR BEUTLER:  Okay.  Now, moving to the area of curriculum, and again let's assume we have a Class II, a Class III, and two or more Class I's.  Can the unification agreement control the decision as to who controls curriculum?


SENATOR BOHLKE:  That agreement could control that.


SENATOR BEUTLER:  Okay, so you could have ...  you could have a curriculum in a Class I, in that unification agreement, that...


SENATOR CROSBY:  One minute.




SENATOR BEUTLER:  Well, let me...  let me stop at that point, Senator, and come back to that when I have more time.


SENATOR CROSBY:  Thank you, Senator Beutler.  Senator Willhoft, followed by Lynch and Coordsen.


SENATOR WILLHOFT:  Madam Chairman, members of the body, you know I have sat very patiently and listened to a lot of debate.  on school issues in the past 58 days, or 52 days, or whatever the length of time that we have been here.  I've been serving on the Education Committee.  I participated in the interim study tour that they took of various schools across the state of Nebraska this last summer.  And I would like to rise to tell you that there really aren't any bad schools in Nebraska, there are schools that have major, major differences.  And I'm rising to support this bill and the committee amendments.  I think it's a bill that's badly needed.  I support Senator Dierks 100 percent on the unification problem.  It provides another opportunity for schools to get together and maintain their identity.  We're talking about more than just schools in the state of Nebraska.  When we talk about these schools in the Class C and D categories we're talking about a way of life, we're talking about a social structure, we're talking about their cultural structure and we're talking about their whole community aspect.  In many instances the school is their economic development.  And when we talk about things that we think consolidation is the only answer, I think we're wrong.  We need to give schools the opportunity to do other things besides consolidate.  I can give you an example, in the 34th district, of a school that consolidated, much like we have said they had ought to do.  They joined three or four communities together, they built a school in the middle of a cornfield.  They have a very good program.  They only got about 70 percent of the funding that they need to operate that school.  They're looking at cutting down on 7 teachers in a school of 500 students.  When you cut seven teachers out of it, you don't just cut teachers and become efficient, you cut programs, important programs.  My school in Central City, where I live, is debating the issue right now, to cut out voc ag and voc tech, because they're high dollar per student programs.  This is wrong, folks.  We can't starve these schools into efficiency without hurting children's education.  So with that, I rise in support of the committee amendments and




Senator Bohlke's amendment and 1219.  Thank you, Madam Chairman.


SENATOR CROSBY:  Thank you, Senator Willhoft.  Senator Lynch, followed by Coordsen, Cudaback, and Jones.  Senator Lynch.


SENATOR LYNCH:  Call the question.


SENATOR CROSBY:  Question has been called.  Do I see five hands?  I do see five hands.  The question is, shall debate cease?  All in favor vote aye, opposed no.  We're voting on ceasing debate.  Have you all voted?  Senator Lynch.


SENATOR LYNCH:  I'll ask for a call of the house.


SENATOR CROSBY:  Request for a call of the house.  All in favor vote aye, opposed no.  Record, please.


ASSISTANT CLERK:  18 ayes, 0 nays to go under call.


SENATOR CROSBY:  The house is under call.  Would all senators please record your presence.  Would those unexcused senators please return to the Chamber and record your presence.  All unauthorized personnel please leave the floor.  The house is under call.  Senator Don Pederson, Senator Bromm, Senator Chris Peterson, Senator Maurstad, Senator Robak, Senator Bruning, and Senator Will, the house is under call.  Senator Bromm, Senator Bruning, Senator Chris Peterson,, the house is under call.  Senator Lynch, do you want to accept callin votes?


SENATOR LYNCH:  Yes, thank you.


SENATOR CROSBY:  Roll call vote has been requested.  We're voting on calling the question.  As soon as everybody gets here we'll vote.  Senator Bromm.  Senator Chris Peterson, the house is under call.  All present and accounted for.  We are voting on whether to cease debate.  Roll call vote as been requested.  Please call the roll, Mr. Clerk.


ASSISTANT CLERK:  (Roll call vote taken.  See page 1454 of the Legislative Journal.) 13 ayes, 24 nays to cease debate, Madam President.




SENATOR CROSBY:  Debate does not cease.  I will raise the call Mr. Clerk, do you have items for the record?


CLERK:  Yes, Madam President, I do, thanks.  Senator Schmitt, amendments to (LB) 1152; Senator Beutler, (LB) 1063A.  ..Confirmation report from Senator Robinson as Chair of Government.  Lobby Report for this week.  ...  New A bill (read LB 1191A by title for the first time).  (LB) 989, (LB) 1173, (LB) 1229, (LB) 1229A are reported correctly engrossed.  Hearing notice from Executive Board.  That's all that I have, Madam President.  (See pages 1455-58 of the Legislative Journal.)


SENATOR CROSBY:  Thank you, Mr. Clerk.  We will continue debate on the Bohlke amendment.  Senator Coordsen, followed by Cudaback and Jones.


SENATOR COORDSEN:  Thank you, Madam President, members of the body.  I put my light on as I was listening to Senator Wesely this morning, following Senator Lynch's comments that, just quit, just reorganize.  I would suggest to my friends here present who do not have to address this area on a local level that there are many more similarities between us than what you may realize.  Number one, all of us, rural and urban alike, have in our legislative districts somewhere between 5,500 and 6,000 children of school age, from kindergarten through the twelfth grade.  Also in our legislative districts we-have a number of school districts within the system and that in your legislative district, Senator Wesely, in your legislative district, Senator Lynch, and to anybody else that is interested, you have a number of what your system calls attendance centers, a number of elementary ones, and two or more for the most part middle school and/or high school attendance centers.  There is really no difference.  The interests of the school board in your area is to try to deliver the best possible education they can within the communities of service of each of those buildings.  And to do that they end up with widely varied costs per pupil across the citywide system.  I have nothing much different than that, except it's scattered out over 2,592 square miles, and that's a small legislative district.  I don't know that I ever learned to count big enough to contemplate the square miles in Senator Jones' district, that is where we have a problem, it is not in our goal.  But there seems to be an absolute insistence, and not




necessarily this group here present today, but historically in the Nebraska Legislature that what works in?  one area must necessarily be that that's applied with a hammer, all over the state.  And I would suggest to you that as long as our goals are the same, and those goals are quality education, that we ought to look.- at any and every idea that would afford us the opportunity to do this.  You could run and hide.  I distributed this morning our ranking on property taxes on agricultural land, number fourth in the nation.  If you want to take a look at it in depth, and I know you don't want to, there's a report as recent as 1997, February, put out by Legislative Research Division, that will show you that in spite of all of the property tax reduction efforts that we've had in this Legislature in our memory, in going back, those levies have continued to increase.  I would suggest to you that the goal of some of doing away with education outside of the city limits of our major metropolitan centers will not be achieved.  I would suggest that you look at the levy exception votes that will become commonplace if we don't...


SENATOR CROSBY:  One minute.


SENATOR COORDSEN:  ...  provide some other organizational structure to address the problems that are incumbent within depopulation.  And we will continue to have property tax relief on residential, commercial, industrial property, and continue to see those grow on agriculture property because we don't have any of that in the cities.  And the whole concept that' we have had with respect to balancing our tax system will not ,exist for a great part of Nebraska.  We're not balancing checkbooks here, we're trying to balance an educational delivery system in a way that is both achievable, attainable, and affordable.  And 1219 does provide a new look at a way to allow those who are not privileged to live in a population...




SENATOR COORDSEN:  ...  center can use to make their system better.  We have consistently supported, I believe, issues that have been asked for by those who are in major population centers and do have...






SENATOR COORDSEN:  ...  a number of students in their schools.  Thank you, Madam President.


SENATOR CROSBY:  Thank you, Senator Coordsen.  Senator Cudaback, on the Bohlke amendment, followed by Jones, Brown, and Lynch.;


SENATOR CUDABACK:  Madam President, members, I hate to ride a good horse-to death here on this issue.  Our minds are probably already made up, no matter what I say, or what you say, or what a neighbor says, our minds are made up on this issue.  I queen there are people who are impatient, and people who want to hurry things along.  I think it's inevitable and we all know it's coming.  I guess this prolongs that maybe, it gives some of those schools a chance and maybe a chance there, but we all know what's going to happen in the future.  And one of my colleagues says, well, I guess he's just strictly impatient.  We all know what happens to a child when you say you can't do something, but then if you turn around and say you can do it, then he may not want to do it.  That happened to a couple of my districts this year.  If we would have told them they had to close, they would have been madder than a hornet.  We know how mad that is.  We told them they didn' was up to them, so they chose to close.  So some time when you give them the option they can see the whole picture, maybe it's just not so bad after all.  So many of these schools I think they will see the writing on the wall and they will close.  But why hurry it along?  I say why.  not let attrition happen, and it will happen.  As far as the dollars go, when they do merge, or when they do unify under this bill it could make more dollars for the other schools, because.%, it's going to increase their valuations, so there possibly could, be more dollars in the pot to share, as you might say, with other larger school districts.  It just could work that way.  But I just...  I just can't stress the fact that we should let those schools make their own conclusion.  And I think they will in the long run, I think they really will in the long run.  They'll come to the conclusion that say you can't operate with 5 kids, 6 kids, 10 kids, 12 kids, and I think they're smart and I think they understand that.  And I think if we just give them a little time to come to that conclusion, we all know in the last ten years what's happened.  Just go back and look at how




many districts there were ten years ago, it's dropping every day.  We can't stop it, it's inevitable.  The farmers are leaving, the rurals are leaving.  You got fewer farmers, you got fewer people here, fewer people there, and it's happening.  Why hurry it along?  Thank you.


SENATOR CROSBY:  Thank you, Senator Cudaback.  Senators, I might remind you, the noise level is very high.  Senator Jones.


SENATOR JONES:  Madam President, members of the body, I want'-to stand up in support of 1219, the unification bill, because 'I think it's something, another tool that we can use out there.  And I can think of three districts in my area that could use it, that would be Taylor, Sargent, and Burwell, which is in a little triangle.  And they might could make this work for their three districts.  And like Senator Coordsen was saying, each one of us has probably got 5,500 or 6,000 pupils in our legislative district.  And one thing that I think a lot of people don't realize that out in my district the Class I's are a necessity out there, they're not just there to try to keep from being in town.  And Senator Robinson said, well, we should just close all them Class I's, but you don't know how many miles it is in some of my area.  And George was comment...  Senator Coordsen was commenting about how many square miles he had.  I've got 16,645 square miles in my legislative district, so it's definitely the biggest one.  There were some comments made earlier about if three districts merge then you would pick one school board member out of each one of them, and the three boards would elect one board member from each one.  I understand that that only makes three on that board.  And I guess I need to ask Senator Bohlke if that's true, or whether I misunderstood that?


SENATOR CROSBY:  Senator Bohlke, will you yield for a question?


SENATOR BOHLKE:  I just...  I'm having her repeat your question.  If you had three, would you only have a three-person board?


SENATOR JONES:  Yes.  See, right now,...


SENATOR BOHLKE:  But the interlocal agreement could...






SENATOR BOHLKE:  ...  set up that there would be two from each board.


SENATOR JONES:  That's what...that's the question I




SENATOR JONES:  I misunderstood what...


SENATOR BOHLKE:  It's a minimum, you have to have one from each, but the agreement, you can add on whatever you agree upon.  So that could be two from each, and so you'd have a six-person board.


SENATOR JONES:  Right.  And, see, right now you have six people on each one of the Class II or III school boards.  Could the two be picked out of them school boards, them six from each one, or could they be somebody else?


SENATOR BOHLKE:  No, they have to be from that ...  from those boards.  They have to have been elected to those boards.


SENATOR JONES:  Thank you.  I believe I'll yield the rest of my time back to the Chair.


SENATOR CROSBY:  Thank you, Senator Jones.  Senator Brown.  Senator Brown, Senator Brown.


SENATOR BROWN:  Madam President, members of the Legislature, I needed to respond to some of the things that Senator Coordsen had said in terms of the similarities between urban school districts and rural school districts, because I do tend to agree with many of the things he said.  One thing that I would like to share is the experience of the Omaha Public Schools about probably 15 years ago, because there had been a move within Omaha more to the west.  The Omaha Public Schools ended up closing 17' attendance areas, elementary attendance areas, elementary schools, that were neighborhood schools.  And I can tell you that it's not really much easier in a large community to close a neighborhood school than it is in a small community to close a school.  There was a great deal of consternation.




But the school system, as a matter of their responsibility to conduct their affairs in the most efficient manner possible, could only look at the numbers and understand that it was more efficient for them to close some of the neighborhood schools in the parts of the community that had lost a lot of population, and to have those kids go further away to schools that were not only larger, but also probably structured better to accommodate those kids.  So there are similarities, but I just want you to know that the urban area is not immune to those same kinds of decisions that have to be made, in terms of management, and that those same kind of decisions have at least the same kind of emotional upheaval to the community that it often has.  But it's a matter of priorities.  It's a matter of making decisions, it's a matter of management.  And those are things that we have to expect from adults, from school boards, to make the best decisions in protecting kids and making sure that they have opportunities, but also in doing that in the most efficient manner possible.  The other thing that I have to say is that I hear a lot about property tax relief.  And it almost seems that there's a presumption that the urban areas are not doing anything to contribute towards property tax relief in this state, or not doing our share.  And I have to dispute that.  I think that the Omaha area contributes a great deal, a great deal.  My legislative district contributes a great deal to the fact that we have a sound surplus in this state...  sound budget and surplus in this state, and a lot of that money has gone ...  has gone to property tax relief in other parts of the state, and will continue to do that.  So the urban areas are a player in this and are contributing and...


SENATOR CROSBY:  One minute.


SENATOR BROWN:  ...  are certainly aware of the impact to small communities of their schools.  It's the same impact that we have in our neighborhoods and our community of our schools.  Thank you.


SENATOR CROSBY:  Thank you, Senator Brown.  Senator Lynch.


SENATOR LYNCH:  Madam Chairman and members, I want to remind you that- no time at all when I mentioned one school district per county did I mention closing schools.  I have never suggested we




March 26, 1996


should close schools.  What I've always suggested is that we can do a heck of a lot better job administering the school system with fewer administrators.  And I would like to point out that what Senator Brown said about closing centers of education in District Number One is true.  Where I went to school, Park School, on 29th and Woolworth, the building is there, but the students no longer go to school there.  I That's one of four schools that were merged into what we now know as Field Grade School.  You're not doing anything different.  You're not suffering anymore in rural Nebraska than the people are in the urban areas where the school districts are trying to save property taxes and trying to consolidate, as much as they can, the education of kids, so they can do a better job, first of all.  And then secondly, I'd like to point out that maybe I was thinking too big when I said maybe we should have one school district per county.  If in fact each one of our legislative districts has, as I understand, 5,500 kids in the school district, maybe we only need 49 school districts.  What do you think about that?  And why not?  That's enough.  Where do we go with this?  How long do we have to talk about it?  I do get impatient when I hear some senators talking about we got to have property tax relief, we got to save money, the poor people back home can't afford to pay to live in their house anymore, but we refuse to recognize that the problem isn't with the students, the problem isn't with the principals, the problem isn't with the teachers, the problem is that some of us are politically sensitive enough to those administrators that live in your districts that don't want to lose their jobs that you don't want to change it.  That's the political decision you're making.  Even with this proposal you don't want to have to go back home and say to those school administrators that are making the big money that we probably don't need an many of you.  I guess I can take seriously any senator on the floor who talks about property tax relief when they also agree that one of the best places to begin with that is to reorganize administratively our school system, not close schools, don't fire teachers, make it possible for kids to go to school where it's most convenient and get the best quality education.  Never once have you heard some of us who talk about reorganization ever mention that we should have a system of education that is less ...  has less quality than what we have now.  We always talk about what can we do to make it better.  We just spent 9 or $10 million this session putting




money into the Educational Service Units so that property taxes .won't be needed.  And you know what that was I created for, don't you, all of you?  You know that was created because it was supposed to help the inefficiently-administered smaller school district be a little more efficient, that's the only reason they're out there.  They can't buy pencils in bulk, and they can't buy buses, and they can't buy other things in bulk, so we spend an awful lot of everybody's tax dollars paying for educational service units to help the smaller districts be more efficient.  I voted for that, because I think we should.  But I don't like the fact that we leave the impression that this is an urban and a rural issue, it in not, by any moans not.  What it is, I think, being willing to admit that the system we have now is not efficient,...


SENATOR CROSBY:  One minute.


SENATOR LYNCH:  ...  and even with the help of the $10 million we spent on educational service units is not going to make it any more efficient.  But we just don't want to change, and we create new administrative levels, as this amendment does and as this bill does, to help satisfy somebody from having to consider the fact that we should change.  I don't like the fact that it would even go on for four years.  If it gets down to two years, and maybe three, I think I might be able to support this, hoping that in time enough of us will.  come to our senses to realize that we can't continue to play games administratively with this issue too much longer, and at the same time make it appear that we're serious about property tax relief.


SENATOR CROSBY:  Thank you, Senator Lynch.  There are no further lights.  Senator Bohlke, you are recognized to close on your amendment.


SENATOR BOHLKE:  Yes, Madam President and members.  We've gotten away from the amendment actually, and so the amendment really is just clarification and fairly technical.  I would ask, regardless of how you feel on the bill, that we would get the amendment adopted and then we could continue the debate as to if you support the bill or not.  Thank you.


SENATOR CROSBY:  Thank you, Senator Bohlke.  The question is the




adoption of the Bohlke amendment to the committee amendments.  All in favor vote aye, opposed no.  We're voting on the Bohlke amendment.  Record, please.


CLERK:  26 ayes, 0 nays, Madam President, on the adoption of Senator Bohlke's amendment to the committee amendments.


SENATOR.  CROSBY:  The Bohlke amendment is adopted.  Mr. Clerk.  We are now on-the committee amendments as amended.  -Further debate on the committee amendments as amended?  There are no lights.  Senator Bohlke, you may close on the committee amendments?


SENATOR BOHLKE:  Yes, Madam President and members.  Again, this issue is the one that the committee addressed as far as Class 1'3 and the valuation and what happens to that valuation in a unified system.  I think it's very important, regardless once again how you feel on the bill, that certainly the work that the committee did in addressing potential problems., if the bill were to be successful, I think it's important that we address what we saw as potential problems and needed to specify exactly how it would impact Class 'Is, the choices that they would have.  And actually the choices they would have here are more than what we did on 1175.  1 think that these are fair and try to give the structure and give some organization to the structure that didn't exist in the bill as it was originally introduced.  And so I would ask for your support once again of these amendments, and then once this is complete I know that there are other amendments coming to the bill, but, that hopefully we could get the committee amendments adopted and then continue the debate on the bill.  Thank you.


SENATOR CROSBY:  Thank you, Senator Bohlke.  You've heard the closing on the committee amendments.  The question is the adoption of the committee amendments to LB 1219.  All in favor vote aye, opposed no.  Record, please.


CLERK:  31 ayes, 0 nays, Madam President, on the adoption of the committee amendments.


SENATOR CROSBY:  The committee amendments are adopted.  Mr. Clerk, any amendments?




CLERK:  Senator Dierks has the first amendment to the bill.  Senator, AM4143.


SENATOR DIERKS:  Madam President and members of the body, I'd like to have that bill (sic) withdrawn and put on Select File, please.


SENATOR CROSBY:  No objections?  The amendment is withdrawn.


CLERK:  Senator Schrock, AM4098.


SENATOR CROSBY:  Senator Schrock.


SENATOR SCHROCK:  Madam President, members of the Legislature, I would withdraw that amendment at this time.


SENATOR CROSBY:  No objections?  It is withdrawn.


CLERK:  Senator Bromm, AM4159.


SENATOR CROSBY:  Senator Bromm.


SENATOR BROMM:  I would like to pass over that amendment,


CLERK:  Senator, just so I understand....


SENATOR BROMM:  Yeah, pass over instead of withdraw.


CLERK:  For this ...  at this stage, though?


SENATOR BROMM:  At this stage.


CLERK:  Okay.


SENATOR BROMM:  That ...  that ....  yes.


SENATOR CROSBY:  No ...  it is passed over.


CLERK:  Senator Raikes has the next amendment.  (See AM4165 on page 1459 of the Legislative Journal.)




SENATOR CROSBY:  Senator Raikes.


SENATOR RAIKES:  Thank you, Senator Crosby, members of the body.  This amendment would do two things.  One, it would create a minimum term for involvement in a unified agreement.  Once a school agreed to enter this sort of an agreement, it would be required that they remain in that agreement for two years.  The other thing it would do is make it so that after the completion of the fourth year, or the beginning of the fifth year, it would no longer be possible for a school system to withdraw, or school systems that is, withdraw and resume the organizational arrangement they had before the unified system.  Now it would be possible for them to remain a unified system after the beginning of the fifth year, but it would not be possible for them to operate as single districts, such as they did before the unification agreement was struck.  This addresses issues raised, I think, by both Senator Robinson and Senator Lynch, concern about allowing this arrangement to go on for a number of years, and then withdraw it.  I think it also has the advantage that it reduces, in terms of administration, the number of possibilities that may created about various schools withdrawing from the arrangement.  So, I think I can conclude my introduction with that.  Again, to just make clear, it does two things.  Once a school system decides to enter the unified arrangement, it must remain in that arrangement for a minimum two years.  Once it completes the fourth year then, although the arrangement could remain a unified system rather than a consolidated system, it would not be possible for one or more of the school systems to revert to the arrangement they had before the unification agreement was made.  So I urge the adoption of this amendment.  Thank you.


SENATOR CROSBY:  Thank you, Senator Raikes.  Discussion on the Raikes amendment?  Senator Bohlke.


SENATOR BOHLKE:  Madam President and members, I ...  really the amendment has two parts to it.  The one part that says that you really have to hold together for two years before you could break apart, I would look forward to a little more discussion.  I could see some advantage in that.  That might be the most ,likely time, I suppose, that the unification could come apart, because the cost would not be great.  You wouldn't be paying




that much interest in paying back those incentives.  And so I could see where that would solidify, at least for two years, this new unification without letting schools break apart.  The other, and I know there's been a great deal of discussion on moving it to four years.  The committee, when we discussed this, as you look at what's going to happen with this unification, you are going to have, as I've answered questions-from Senator Bromm and others, the district having to make" 'the ...  the unified district having to make a lot of decisions as far as which teachers will remain, who will be rifffed which superintendents will be in place, which course offerings will be offered in which building.  And so I really think that that in itself is going to take F.  couple of years to sort out.  It was then the attempt to realize that we needed then some time for them to really realize how successful they were going to be in operating as a unified district.  If you move, it back to four years, I really do believe that it would take a couple of years to sort all that out.  You don't get ....  you then have two years to really have a district get used to the idea, after everything is sorted out, how this is working.  I think that's a pretty short time when you have to realize that for Us this seems like it would be a simple decision to go this direction.  It gets very complicated and it's going to cause people to make significant change in how they are reorganizing their schools.  I believe that the longer you hold them together that the merits of the unification that they will be able to see.  I think if you move it back to the four years, that there may still be, as they go through this new reorganization, some, regardless of what may happen in that district, who would be likely to break that unification and go back to status quo.  In all of this, I thinks that's what everyone here does not wish to see.  I mean I don't think, no matter how you feel about this bill., that you would hope that schools would come together with this and then end up being back at status quo and really having done nothing.  And I think that you increase the likelihood of that happening by moving it to four years.  I think you increase the likelihood that it will remain intact with the seven years, or certainly something greater than four years.  And so those are my concerns with the senator ...  with Senator Raikes' amendment.  Thank you.


SENATOR CROSBY:  Thank you, Senator Bohlke.  Senator Dierks, on the Raikes amendment.




SENATOR DIERKS:  Thank you, Madam President and members of the Legislature.  I think I should go back and explain to you a little bit about the process we went through.  Senator Raikes, the people who decided they wanted to do this, they had in mind what was in the best interests of their students, as well as their school patrons.  And they studied this pretty thoroughly, and I think they know that they need these seven years in order for this thing to work.  And we want it to work, -but we don't want to force them to make it work in four years, and we don't want to force them to become unified after the fourth year, starting in the fifth year.  If we force that on them, they won't sign the unified district, they won't merge.  We have an opportunity to provide for these school districts to become a super district, and we're going to shoot them in the foot before we start.  This is an opportunity, I think, we all should embrace.  It's an opportunity to provide a little bit better education and a little bit bigger system and one that will be able to survive a little bit longer with what we do to them as a Legislature, and yet we're going to take away the incentive that they've asked for in seven years for this unified system.  I think it's counterproductive to the effort.  I can't support it, I hope you don't because I think this might just destroy the whole effort of unification, which I think has a great deal of promise for our state.  Thank you.


SENATOR CROSBY:  Thank you, Senator Dierks.  Senator Beutler, on the Raikes amendment.


SENATOR BEUTLER:  Senator Raikes, let me exchange a couple ideas with you, if I may.


SENATOR CROSBY:  Senator Raikes, will you yield?




SENATOR BEUTLER:  After the beginning of the fifth year, the district shall make A ...  which make up the unified system shall either continue as a unified system, or consolidate into a single district.  So before that point in time they can go back to being what they were before, right?




SENATOR RAIKES:  Yes, that's true, except that once they ...  the first part of the amendment would say that once they agree-to be a part of the unified system they would need to remain in the system, or in that unification for two years.  So you basically create a two-year window between years two and four, that they could revert back to where they were when they began.


SENATOR BEUTLER:  Okay.  Do you have any problems, and the part of the amendment that I have a problem with is the idea of allowing a school district to remain a unified school district indefinitely, because that means, as I understand it, that there could be literally dozens, or hundreds, dozens is more likely, different kinds of school districts, out there that have different kinds of boards and different kinds of rules insofar as those boards have the ability to make rules, wouldn't that be correct?


SENATOR RAIKES:  That would, yes, I think you visualize that correctly.  I think, as Senator Dierks pointed out, clearly the intent of this is to encourage districts to form a cooperative arrangement that would lead them eventually to a consolidated system.  I think the other size of the argument is one that Senator Dierks just presented, that there is resistance to making the commitment to consolidate, so that the incentive here is to provide flexibility.  And his view, apparently, is that even this relatively limited reduction in flexibility is too much.  So you're treading kind of a fine line.


SENATOR BEUTLER:  Well, let me ask you this, for example.  Let's say that we went ahead with this kind of proposition on unified districts, and each one of them had a different kind of controlling board.  Would it make sense in our law relating to Class II school districts to go back and say you can have Any kind of board you want in terms of numbers, makeup, et' cetera?


SENATOR RAIKES:  Well, go ahead with your question.


SENATOR BEUTLER:  Well that is ...  what I'm getting to, I think, is apparent to you.  Why would we give a degree of flexibility to a unified district that we will not give to a Class II or III or I district right now?




SENATOR RAIKES:  Well, 1, again, you make a good point.  I think the justification has to be that it is a transitionary arrangement.  And what you're arguing is that if it is transitionary that you make some kind of an end to the transition?


SENATOR BEUTLER:  Yes, precisely.  I mean to me it's like saying, here is a transitionary instrument that's not really transitory, because.,..


SENATOR CROSBY:  One minute.


SENATOR BEUTLER:  ...  under your amendment and under the bill it's allowed to go on forever.


SENATOR RAIKES:  Yeah, I understand your point.


SENATOR BEUTLER:  Okay, thank you, Senator Crosby.


SENATOR CROSBY:  Thank you, Senator Beutler.  Senator Suttle, on the Raikes amendment.


SENATOR SUTTLE:  Thank you, Madam President, members of the Legislature.  I think that....  Senator Raikes, would you answer a question for me?




SENATOR CROSBY:  Senator Raikes.


SENATOR SUTTLE:  Your amendment just doesn't change the unification of these schools.  It doesn't change the process, all it does is speed up a decision?  Is that what you're saying, they either have to decide, after four years, 1 mean, Senator Bohlke's objection was that this isn't enough time, that they're still getting used to each other.  But you're not saying that they have to ...  the unification has to be finished in four years.  You're saying that they have to make a decision in four years.  Is that what you're saying?


SENATOR RAIKES:  That's true.  Yes, you're correct.




SENATOR SUTTLE:  They can decide to continue the unification, or they can decide to consolidate, is that correct?


SENATOR RAIKES:  Yes.  The only option that is foreclosed would be for districts to go back, or excuse me.  After ...  at the beginning of the fifth year, the only option that would be foreclosed, is the one to go back to the pre-unification.


SENATOR SUTTLE:  To the separate school districts?




SENATOR SUTTLE:  Okay.  If they don't ....  do you have any sanctions in mind for the incentive funds, if they don't make some kind of decision?  Do you have any kind of consequences if they don't make a decision?


SENATOR RAIKES:  No, there are none specified in this amendment, Senator.


SENATOR SUTTLE:  Are there any in the bill?


SENATOR RAIKES:  Yes.  The ones in the bill would require a repayment of reorganization incentives plus interest, if the unification arrangement is dissolved.


SENATOR SUTTLE:  Okay.  And does this pertain to this section as well?  Does that have ...  having to pay back the incentive money, does that pertain to not making a decision in four years?


SENATOR RAIKES:  Yes, it would..


SENATOR SUTTLE:  Thank you, very much.  Thank you, Madam President.


SENATOR CROSBY:  Thank you, Senator Suttle.  Senator Coordsen, on the...  I'm sorry, I'm sorry, beg your pardon, Senator Coordsen.  The Clerk has something more.  Thank you.


ASSISTANT CLERK:  Senator Beutler would move to amend the Raikes amendment, Madam President.  (See FA656 on page 1459 of the Legislative Journal.)




SENATOR CROSBY:  Senator Beutler, to open on your amendment to the amendment.  Senator Beutler.  Senator Beutler, you are recognized to open on your amendment to the amendment.


SENATOR BEUTLER:  Senator Crosby, members of the Legislature, my amendment is designed to ask you to make a distinction, and that distinction is simply, following my dialogue with Senator Raikes, to decide whether this entity that you're creating is going to be truly a transitory mechanism by which, at the end of a period of time, this entity will evolve into one of our Class II, Class III districts.  Or whether you're creating an entity that's going to be there forever as a "unitary" school.  What the amendment does is drop out of the Raikes amendment the language "either continue in a unified system".  It deletes that language so that it would read that at the end...  at the beginning of the fifth year, the unified system shall consolidate into a single district.  So they would have a two-year window to decide whether to go back to their original form, between the second and the fourth year they could decide whether to go back to their original forms, or they could consolidate.  But they would not have the option of continuing ad infinitum, a unitary district which would be not a Class I, not a Class II, not a Class III, but a creature that is as individual as the agreement that makes up a particular unified district.  And I would argue, and I would argue that allowing a completely unique situation for each school district will not last long, and that eventually you will create a cycle that will come back and ask that all of these school districts be created in a ...  be treated in a unified fashion.  Just as we have over time come to the point where a Class II is treated everywhere the same, in terms of statutory requirements, a Class III is treated everywhere the same in terms of a Class III statutory requirements.  It doesn't make sense to have strict provisions of uniformity applying to all our different school systems, and then to create one that can go on forever, which is essentially another class, but.  a class having no strict statutory dimensions, but rather the dimensions reciting in the individual agreements that are what make up these districts.  I'm sure what I've stated is not completely accurate in terms of some of the refinements, but I think it is generally accurate.  And I think .the philosophic distinction in important, very important.  And I




hope this body is not going to create another creature that's to be there forever, but rather is creating a short-term helpful mechanism for schools to get from one place to another, those places being places that we have historically defined over time and refined over time to be all of the things in the statute that we define as a Class II system, or all of the things in the statute that we define as a I Class III System.  Once you start departing from that, what's going to happen is that individual people in one unitary school will start -to perceive differences between their unitary school and somebody else's unified school.  And then they're going to come into this Legislature and say, well why do they get to do it this way, but we don't.  And the answer, that 20 years ago you decided in your interlocal agreement that that's the way it's going to be, isn't going to hold water.  And we're bringing on this Legislature and on the system and on society a whole deluge of new problems that will derive if there are many of these unitary schools out there.  And they will be out there, because they are preferable to merger for a great, great many people.  And if they're allowed to continue to exist in a unified state, I would argue to you that they present us ...  they're going to be presenting us with far more problems than this is worth.  And so I simply suggest to you today that we fish or cut bait.  They can use the unified system, but at a certain point in time, one, they withdraw, or, two, they consolidate.  That's what this amendment would say.


SENATOR CROSBY:  Thank you, Senator Beutler.  You've heard the opening on Senator Beutler's amendment to the' Raikes amendment.  Discussion?  Senator Coordsen.


SENATOR COORDSEN:  Thank you, Madam President, members of the body.  Neither the Beutler amendment, nor the Raikes amendment, itdoesn't matter what you do, if they become part of 1219, they have the practical effect of not having 1219.  It is important that we examine the whole structure.  And in 1114 we provided that people who wish, whether schools, or counties, or cities, or fire departments, or whatever that might be, can, by a popular vote, exceed that levy cap by any amount.  In essence, 1114 placed upon the governing boards, the governing boards, a levy cap, but provided an escape mechanism for the people who live in that government unit.  And the practical effect, no




matter what the good intentions are of Senator Beutler's amendment and Senator Raikes' amendment, is that no one, no rural district would unify, because they can do as already four have done, four have done, is have an election to exceed the vote ...  to exceed the levy, if that's what it takes the keep the school in their community.  Unification by itself, with the 7 year, or 6 year, or 8 year, whatever, seems to be necessary for the purposes of the bill, and the other provisions doesn't present that impediment.  It provides an opportunity -for those districts who might otherwise vote to exceed the levy, because remember rural districts and the people that live in the communities in rural districts have something that the population centers do not have.  They have a capped evaluation in agriculture property that is not represented by very many people.  So the voters in fact, the majority, are not necessarily going to pay very much on their home in a village, if they override the levy cap.  So it simply doesn't make any difference whether we amend and then adopt the Raikes amendment, or whether we don't ....  back up a little bit.  The Beutler amendment, or the Raikes amendment, it doesn't matter, because the adoption of the Raikes amendment will in fact render the practical application of the unification concept into the dusty recesses of stuff that was done with the best of intentions but was not acceptable at the level where compliance had to take place, because there are ...  there is another option available to rural schools.  Thank you, Madam President.


SENATOR CROSBY:  Thank you, Senator Coordsen.  Senator Dierks, on the Beutler amendment.


SENATOR DIERKS:  Thank you, Madam President and members of the body.  Senator Beutler, this ...  this amended...your amendment to the ...  to the Raikes amendment would simply require, forced consolidation.  I have...  I have problems with that.  I don't think that's what we're after.  We have, I think, a good process with the unified system.  I think that the process that we've developed, the legislation's been developed, is a good piece of legislation.  I thought most people would agree with that, that it would provide us with another option to help keep our schools functioning, but with the amendment that you have to the Raikes amendment and the Raikes amendment, the only thing I can say is, well, we may have adopted a bill but nobody's going to use it,




and I don't think that's what we're about.  I think we should be looking at some way to provide the ability of these school's to do the things they want to do without any roadblocks, without any stipulations, without saying you got to consolidate after you've been in this thing or you don't have any choice but consolidate.  That's forced consolidation and that...  I know none of my school districts, and this is who we developed this for, they won't even ...  they won't even join this unified district They won't have any part of ...  won't have any part of this, I don't think will have any part of it with Raikes amendment even.  So I have to stand in opposition of this amendment and I guess I ...  I guess I have problems with the philosophy that seems to be somewhat pervasive in certain areas of the Legislature that ...  that would try to do away with the schools in the rural part of the state, which I think this type of stuff does.  We have a ...  we have knowledge of other countries, other parts of the nation that find the Class I schools, the small schools, the...  in their states were functioning very well and they're going back to them.  We see the problems that happen in the large schools.  These ...  we don't have quite these same problems.  I just don't understand the philosophy that says we need to force consolidation on a...  it's just another...  it's just another kick in the seat for these small communities and small towns in Nebraska.  We're having enough trouble now with economic development with the farm community.  We just don't need this sort of thing to add to the misery.  I hope you'll turn down, not support, either this amendment, this amendment of Senator Beutler's or the amendment to the Raikes amendment ...  or the Raikes amendment.  Thank you.


SENATOR CROSBY:  Thank you, Senator Dierks.  Senator Schrock.


SENATOR SCHROCK:  Madam President, members of the Legislature, solving the problems in rural Nebraska look very easy from.  inside this room, but you go out and talk to the people and hear, them talk about their schools and what it means to the communities it becomes a different story.  And we know not all the rural schools will survive, but I think if this is going to be a useful tool for schools to become more efficient and to eventually merge, if you put the hammer out there that says they have to merge at the end of a certain time period, it's a tool that will not be used and we will have missed an opportunity for




fewer dollars to be spent on education in rural Nebraska with the result them being more efficient.  I, too, agree with some people who say that we probably have -too many school administrators in rural Nebraska and I think this is one of the ways to solve that problem., We can maybe spend less money on administration and more money on teaching students.  So if we make this bill too burdensome then nobody will use it and we will have lost an opportunity to help rural schools solve some of their problems.  So, with those comments, I would respectfully ask you to turn down the amendment offered by Senator Beutler, but I understand where you're coming from-Senator Beutler, and I think your considerations or your ...  what you're wanting to do is honorable but I think we're going to burden this bill so much that nobody will use it and we will have missed an opportunity to create some efficiencies in our schools in rural Nebraska.


SENATOR CROSBY:  Thank you, Senator Schrock.  Senator Raikes, on the Beutler amendment.


SENATOR RAIKES:  Thank you, Madam President, members of the body.  A couple comments, one is I rise to oppose the Beutler amendment.  I would suggest that I would have a greater comfort level with requiring consolidation at the end of the eight-year period rather than at the end of the four-year period here.  I do agree, Senator Beutler, that this is ...  at least presents an option for school districts to transition themselves from where -they are now to where they might be.  I would also respond a little bit to Senator Dierks' comments.  This is not ...  the amendment that I offered is not intended to be punitive in the sense of discouraging districts from looking at this option.  I'm a little surprised that eliminating that one alternative, namely, to operate or to revert back to operating a single or as a single district after year five or after, yeah, the beginning of year five is really that much of a negative influence.  I would...  I would judge that districts would be interested in unification because they saw it as a promising alternative and would fully expect to be able to participate in a unified agreement and possibly eventually into a merged system as they look down the road.  There were some other comments made about forced consolidation and ...  and, again, I don't think that's part of the motive here.  I think the whole unification idea is to




provide a good deal of flexibility to schools in their decisions about where they locate attendance centers and certainly I support all that and would hope that the amendment does not foreclose those kinds of opportunities.  So, with that, I don't support the Beutler amendment, although I recognize his concern about making ...  making it clear that this is intended to be a transition or a transitionary system.  Thank you.




SPEAKER KRISTENSEN:  Senator Bohlke.  Senator Bohlke, prior to beginning your address, Mr. Clerk has some items.


CLERK:  Well, Mr. President, thanks.  Business and Labor has a confirmation hearing going on right now in Room 1520.  A confirmation hearing by Business and Labor now.  Senator Dierks, an amendment to 1219 to be printed, and Senator Will to 512.  That's all that I have, Mr. President.  (See pages 1459-69 of the Legislative Journal.)


SPEAKER KRISTENSEN:  Thank you, Mr. Clerk.  Senator Bohlke.


SENATOR BOHLKE:  Yes, Mr. Speaker and members, I'm speaking specifically to the Beutler amendment and what I think people need to realize that if we adopt that, I believe that there would not be a school district that would participate in the new unification, and if that were true, and I think it would be, then we would be back to where very few people on the floor hope to have schools where we have a number of schools who will be voting to exceed their levy and stay in place and will not reorganize or make an attempt to have a reorganization.  I think it's ...  because of the short time I just can't imagine any school district out there going into an agreement with all of the complications of an agreement and then, at the end of four years, having to consolidate.  You know that LB 1030 that we voted on really gave the incentives rather than forcing consolidation.  We've seen a lot of activities from schools looking at those incentives, starting to do...take advantage of those incentives and the philosophy at that time was the carrot works better than the stick.  Now, what we do here is we give them a few bites off the carrot and then (laugh) and then bring in the stick.  I just don't think that schools will enter into




this if, at the end of four years, they have to consolidate.  And if they don't, if we pass this bill, if no one then is interested in it, what have we accomplished other...  ?  You know, not very much.  And so that was the philosophy of not going this direction and trying to make this appealing and hoping after the trial of being together in a unified district probably many people would hope that they would wish to merge or consolidate, and I think the likelihood of that happening could be very great.  But if we adopt the Beutler amendment, I think the likelihood of anyone participating- in a unified district is almost slim to none.  Thank you.




SENATOR BEUTLER:  Senator Kristensen, I'd ask unanimous consent to withdraw the amendment and substitute another.


SPEAKER KRISTENSEN:  Okay, it is withdrawn.


CLERK:  Senator Beutler would move to amend Senator Raikes' amendment.  (See FA657 on page 1469 of the Legislative Journal.)


SPEAKER KRISTENSEN:  Senator Raikes, you're now recognized to open on your amendment to the amendment.  Although you look like Senator Raikes, Senator Beutler, you are recognized.


SENATOR BEUTLER:  I would like to say that Senator Raikes favors this amendment.  Senator Kristensen, members of the Legislature, what ...  what I have done is to retain the current ...  the amendment that I had just proposed to you that would eliminate the possibility of continuing indefinitely a unitary...  a unified district, but instead of saying after the fifth year that decision needs to be made, I changed that to the seventh year to take into account Senator Bohlke and Senator Raikes' criticism that it is too short a period of time.  So with this amendment, if you adopted it, basically what you would say is that after the seventh year you would consolidate.  But it's not forced consolidation because you have the choice of going back to the way you were before.  So to say that it's forced consolidation is wrong.  The choice is there.  But, again, it maintains that distinction that we're not creating this whole new category of school district, a category that has no internal statutory


definition except what's in this bill and which can vary creature by creature as they're created.  Let me talk about the analogy that we ...  that's been discussed As far as this bill is concerned from the beginning.  People have said this is like an engagement before we're married and the choice to someone who is getting ...  considering getting married is to get married or not to get married, to stay single.  The choice is not to stay engaged, i.e., in the unified state that is neither matrimony nor single.  There is no choice Of staying permanently engaged.  That's what's being suggested to you in the bill the way it is.  It's false to say it's an engagement to be married kind of bill because what it really is, is an engagement to be married or an engagement to continue forever.  All I'm doing is going back to the true analogy.  You either get married or you don't get married.  You don't continue engaged forever, and I thought that was the concept that we had been working with all along, that in fact that was the purpose of the unified system, to provide a transition.  But what we seem to be hung up on is that the unified system itself is an end.  It is the place being transferred to, not a means or a vehicle of coming into one of the categories--Class III district, Class II district-that we have already created and set out rules for.  So that's what the amendment does.  I hope it's more agreeable to you than the last amendment.  Thank you.


SPEAKER KRISTENSEN:  Senator Bohlke.  Senator Bohlke, we're debating the...


SENATOR BOHLKE:  Was there...


SPEAKER KRISTENSEN:  ...amendment to the amendment.


SENATOR BOHLKE:  My light's not on.  Was there a question?


SPEAKER KRISTENSEN:  It's your turn to speak.  Your light was on.


SENATOR BOHLKE:  I'm sorry, Mr. Speaker.  I ...  I did get ...  have an opportunity to hear what Senator Beutler was saying and that .I think this is an improvement over the last amendment and people will have to make...  Senator Coordsen and I were just discussing what ramifications are there and Senator Coordsen




said, you know, what...  at one point in time when they consolidate what really has happened?  What has changed other that you now have one board, one district?  What else have you really affected by having them consolidate?  And I said, well, you'd have one team also.  But I suppose, Senator Beutler, do you envision, by having them consolidate, what you would ...  the effect would be that for sure you would only have one administrator?  Do you see that that...  I mean what advantage do you see by having them move from a unification to ...  from a unified district to a consolidated district?


SENATOR BEUTLER:  A consolidated district would have all the powers and abilities of a Class II or a Class III district, whatever it was they were transiting into, and by having those particular powers they would be treated the same and the people and the taxpayers within that district would be treated the same as all other Class II or Class III taxpayers or patrons.  Whereas if you continued the unified system, there could be different kinds of boards out there, for one thing.  There will be questions arising as to why they can have one kind of board and we can have another and there can be a third, a fourth, a fifth, there can be as many as there are unified districts, which I think creates a whole host of problems for you and I when those people come back in here and wonder why they get to do this and we don't, et cetera, et cetera.


SENATOR BOHLKE:  So, by having this be one ...  ore of the two options at the end, really the main thing we're doing is ensuring that they have to move to a consistency in their board representation.  Because they have a common budget, they have a common levy, which are really the central things that we always thought...




SENATOR BOHLKE:  ...  were attractive about consolidation, I've never been as concerned about the board makeup.


SENATOR BEUTLER:  Well, let's turn the question around then, Senator.  If the only difference between consolidating a school and...and unifying a school, if the only difference is that one little board difference then why are we bothering?




SENATOR BOHLKE:  Senator Beutler, you heard me mention the word "team".  It allows...  it's still with a unified district, allows those high schools to retain their identity as far as going out and participating in extracurricular activities with that identity.  And so as a consolidated, as I said, district, that would no longer be there.


SENATOR BEUTLER:  Well, 1, let me ask you this, Senator.  When you.  talk about a team, and when you say "team" I assume you mean athletic teams, for example, or primarily perhaps, and if we're talking about high schools that are consolidated let's say that the board that's created wants to have just one high school instead of two.  Could they do that?


SENATOR BOHLKE:  Under the unified system?






SENATOR BOHLKE:  I would suppose if in that initial agreement under the unified system they said in year such-and-such we only want to have one high school, that could be part of the agreement, if they only wanted to have one high school building and one...


SENATOR BEUTLER:  So they can ...  they can make an agreement that a particular grade school or a particular high school or any particular ....  now, see, this gets around to my other.  question about the allocation of resources.  We seem to be saying on the one hand that the physical facilities can be dictated in the interlocal agreement, the unification agreement, but if you dictate the location of the resources ...  I'm sorry, if you dictate the location of the physical facilities, you are also, in doing that, dictating the allocation of resources to a certain extent, are you not?


SENATOR BOHLKE:  Well, except that that dictation of the building...






SENATOR BOHLKE:  ...has to be an agreed...  an agreed-upon part of the plan.




SENATOR WESELY:  Mr. Speaker, members, I rise in support of the Beutler amendment.  I think he gets at the heart of one of the concerns I had and that is this concept of a unified system versus a affiliated, versus a consolidated, versus a merged, it could be perpetual.  And when we did changes in the NRDs, when we formed the NRDs back in the late sixties, there were something called conservation districts that were allowed for a few years to continue and then would be merged into NRDs.  Twenty-five years later, I think this year marks the time that finally that step was taken and these conservation districts went away.  They had taxing authority and were only supposed to exist for another, like, 5 years, but it took 25 years to eventually happen.  You talk about these unified districts and they're not supposed to go on forever, but with the language that's here they could.  I mean, it could just I said, they have affiliations, unifications.  It should be a transition.  It should not be permanent.  It should either move toward consolidation or, as Senator Beutler says, go back to where they were before.  But it shouldn't be seen as a permanent solution, and that's what Senator Beutler's trying to do and I ...  I support him on it.  In addition, I thought the dialogue with Senator Bohlke was fascinating about the worry about the teams.  I think that may be at the heart of why we can't seem to consolidate our schools in this state, this sort of sports rivalry that exists with towns across the state of Nebraska, whether it be football or basketball, whatever it might be, has generated this antagonism toward ...  toward teams as they won this year and we won that year, and the thought that they would lose their team and have to play with another town and ...  or not be able to compete and represent them.  You know, I mean education is more than sports.  It's...  it's the....  (Laugh) Sometimes we lose eight of that.  Education is taking our kids and giving them the best knowledge that's possible, developing their talents, giving them the opportunity to excel as they move on to other opportunities.  And we have in Lincoln, you know, consolidated one district..  We have Lincoln High team,




Northeast, East, Southeast.  We have competition and rivalry.  You can still have the teams.  You can still have the sports.  You can still have the town representation.  I mean there's...  if that's what it is, we can find a way to deal with that.  But you bring together the school districts so you ...  you merge your resources to do the best you can to educate the students you have.  That's ...  ultimately we forget, that that's what we're really about, is...  is trying to provide the best education possible for the students of this state, and I think the best way to do that is to not have so many school districts that do not have the resources to adequately meet the needs of their students and I think provide efficiency as a result of that.  But, anyway, again, I rise in support of the Beutler amendment.  Thank you.


SPEAKER KRISTENSEN:  Senator Coordsen.


SENATOR COORDSEN:  Thank you, Mr. Speaker, members of the body.  I'm...  I can't tell you that I'm rising in opposition to the Beutler amendment because I believe what he is proposing is the practical, ultimate effect of unification.  Talking, visiting with Senator Bohlke just very briefly here, probably an analogy of a unified system other than the board selection, and that might be something perhaps we should talk about, is really no different than LPS or OPS where there are more than several high schools, all of which have their own sports teams, all of which are in competition with one another within the ...  within the divisions as they exist in sports.  So, from that perspective, a unified System really wouldn't change, I think, where an individual high school within that system would be treated as athletic events go.  I think that would be the same as what it is now.  When I look at a form, and certainly there are other arguments because it's not spelled out in enough detail, but when I look at a form of a unified district and what would exist after the seven years, as Senator Beutler proposes, the odds are my mind, I can't think of an exception other than the makeup of the school board.  You would go from what is currently proposed in 1219 as the 'Local boards and then the super board.  When you consolidate you would change, in the merger agreement, from those boards to a single board entity and that probably would be -:he only practical effect that anyone would notice, because we already have provided for a uniform hiring practice




for everybody, consolidated administration, the same curricular ...  curriculum guidance mechanism, the same ...  a unified tax levy for all of the districts.  I don't know what's left that would change other than the feeling of, independence and encouragement to unify that exists because there is an out.  If you don't like it you can do something else, but there is a penalty for doing that.  I think the practical effect of 1219 would be simply this, and you heard me explain,, in the process of making a number of members of the body bout my two


angry, a schools who began this process through sports.  teams and have went on to sharing many, many resources.  By the time seven years has expired, a unified system would be so interrelated that it really would not make any difference whether they were merged or whether they were ...  remained unified, other than the governance structure as is provided in 1219.  So I don't suppose that I'm going to vote for the Beutler amendment to the amendment because it has that "multiletter" word "consolidation" in.  But I really, other than...




SENATOR COORDSEN:  ...  other than the cliff effect, the dropping off and having to do something different than unify, I don't see any ...  any practical change in the whole system brought about by it.  Thank you.




SENATOR BEUTLER:  Senator Kristensen, members of the Legislature, I think we're still suffering some confusion here, at least I am, about perhaps what this is all about in the end.  Now we're down to the point, apparently, where it's being argued that the only difference between unification and consolidation, and one's a nice word and the one ...  and the other one's a bad word, is this board.  So maybe we ought to start talking a little bit about this board and, as I understand it, the board has to have one member from each district that's represented, but beyond that, as I understand it, the board can have as many members from any district as it should choose, so that if you're in a situation where several districts want to get together and you have a district that's particularly hurting at a particular moment in time, that district is going to be subject to




negotiating pressure when it comes to choosing the members of the board.  They would be likely to settle for fewer members of the board perhaps than the district that had a great deal of leverage.  And I think that what we're going to discover is that over time:  there will be districts who are going to be highly unsatisfied-with a particular arrangement.  And if .,they are unsatisfied, then their choice is to withdraw from the unified district..  Put if they choose to withdraw from the' unified district,.  it may well be that burden district that has no leverage that is withdrawing that is forced to pay the penalties, the incentive penalties, and the district who has the leverage and did not withdraw, as I understand it, would not have to pay back any of the penalties.  The composition of the board becomes a critical matter.  If you have districts perhaps that are more evenly divided, then perhaps the board is an equal number from each of two districts.  If that's the case, then the political situation tells you that resources will continue to go half and half to each of two school districts.  if that is the case, then what have we gained in terms of economies or efficiencies?  It seems to me that we're trying to have things both ways and I'm not understanding how we can do that or why we want to create an entirely new animal in order to attempt to do that.  If truly the only difference is in the board and if truly school districts ought to be able to make up their own boards, .then maybe what we ought to do is get rid of this law and simply say all school districts can make up...




SENATOR BEUTLER:  ...  their own boards any way they want.  Why not?  Thank you.


SPEAKER KRISTENSEN:  Senator Jones.  Question's been called.  Do I see five hands?  I do see five hands.  The question before the body is, shall debate cease?  All those in favor say aye ...  vote aye; all those opposed vote nay.  Have you all voted?  Please record.


CLERK:  28 ayes, 0 nays, Mr. President, to cease debate.


SPEAKER KRISTENSEN:  Debate has ceased.  Senator Beutler, you're recognized to close on your amendment to the amendment.




SENATOR BEUTLER:  Senator Kristensen, members of the Legislature, the amendment again would simply say that.  the proposition as a whole would be if you choose the unitary path, the unified path, you must be in two years and at the end of seven years you would choose either to consolidate or to go back to your single district status.  That's basically it.  -'It's following the analogy of engagement and marriage.  You can choose to do it or you can choose not to do it, but you cannot stay engaged forever.  Thank you.


SPEAKER KRISTENSEN:  You've heard the closing.  The question before the body is the adoption of the Beutler amendment to the Raikes amendment.  All those in favor vote aye; all those opposed vote nay.  There's been a request for a call of the house.  The question before the body is, shall the house go under call?  All those in favor ....  Senator, did you ask for a roll call vote on the call of the house?  Thank you.  The question before the body is, shall the house go under call.  All those in favor vote aye; all those opposed vote nay.  Please record.


CLERK:  24 ayes, 1 nay to place the house under call.


SPEAKER KRISTENSEN:  The house is under call.  Would all unexcused members please return to the Chamber and record their presence.  Would all unauthorized personnel please leave the floor.  The, house is under call.  Senator Beutler, just so I ...  you asked for a roll call vote on your amendment, is that correct?  I thought I heard a request for a specific order.  If anyone did, please raise their hand.  The house is under call.  Been a request for reverse order.  Thank you.  Senator Suttle, Senator Thompson, would you please record your presence, please?  Thank you.  Senator Bruning, the house is under call.  Senator Brown, the house is under call.  Senator Brown, the house is under call.  Senator Brown, would you please check in?  Thank you.  All members are present.  There's been a request for a reverse order roll call.  Members, would you please hold your conversations to a minimum so the Clerk can read the roll.  Thank you.  Mr. Clerk.


CLERK:  (Roll call vote taken.  See page 1470 of the Legislative




Journal.) 13 ayes, 30 nays, Mr. President.


SPEAKER KRISTENSEN:  The amendment is not adopted.  The call i's raised.  We're now debating the Raikes amendment.  Senator Maurstad.  Senator Dierks.


SENATOR DIERKS:  Thank you, Mr. Speaker, members of the Legislature.  I just' have to tell you again somewhat the precariousness of the situation in my district about this legislation.  I fear that the more things we do to this bill the less chance that this will be utilized in my district.  I If's beer.  sold to the people in my district as it's been presented in the green copy and the more things we do to it,, "he more difficult it becomes for this to become a reality.  I think it's important for us to provide this possibility for these schools to do this merger, this consoli ...  this...  I don't want to call it merger, consolidation.  It's a unification 'cause it does provide us with continuity of our schools, continuity of our villages- and towns, continuities of our entire rural districts.  I can't support the Raikes amendment because I think it does break faith a little bit with what was expected from this body by the people of my district, so I would urge you not to support the Raikes amendment.  Let us work on with the bill and do the things that we think are necessary to make the bill a better one.  Thank you.


SPEAKER KRISTENSEN:  Senator Raikes, there's no further lights.  You are recognized to close on your amendment.


SENATOR RAIKES:  Mr. Speaker, members of the body, this amendment, again, does two things:  requires a school district to remain in the agreement for a minimum of two years and then, at the beginning of the fifth year, forecloses the opportunity for them to pull out of the district and operate as a single unaffiliated or un ...  rather ununified district.  I ...  the intent of this is simply to simplify the arrangement to ...  to leave open a window whereby schools can reconsider their participation in a unified system but not allow that possibility or that uncertainty to continue on indefinitely.  It presupposes that the unification agreement is a transitionary agreement that schools are eventually looking toward a permanent cooperative association.  For that reason, the amendment was offered.  I




certainly do recognize Senator Dierks' concerns.  It is not the intent of this amendment to make unification a less popular alternative for school districts.  In fact, quite the opposite is the case and I certainly hope and it wouldn't ...  hope that it would not do that.  But, by the same token, it does help in simplifying it.  It makes it clear that we are transitioning toward a permanent cooperative arrangement and, for those reasons, I would urge its adoption.  Thank you.


SPEAKER KRISTENSEN:  You've heard the closing.  The question before the body is the adoption of the Raikes amendment to LB 1219.  All those in favor vote aye; all those opposed vote nay.  I'm sorry, Senator Raikes, did you make a request for a call of the house?




SPEAKER KRISTENSEN:  Thank you.  There's been a request for a call of the house.  All those in favor of placing the house under call vote aye; all those opposed vote nay.  Please record.


CLERK:  36 ayes, 0 nays to place the house under call.


SPEAKER KRISTENSEN:  The house is under call.  Would all unauthorized personnel please leave the floor.  Would all unexcused members please return to the Chamber and record their presence.  The house is under call.  Senator Brown, would you please check in.  Senator Raikes, did you want to accept call-in votes, or did you want a roll call?




SPEAKER KRISTENSEN:  I ...  I'm sorry, I'll have to get you on the mike.  There's ...  there ...


SENATOR RAIKES:  Give me the questions again, Mr. Speaker.


SPEAKER KRISTENSEN:  Well, there's been a request for a roll call vote by Senator Dierks and I'll take that at this point in time.  Thank you, Senator.  Mr. Clerk, call the roll.


CLERK:  (Roll call vote taken.  See pages 1470-71 of the




Legislative Journal.) 19 ayes, 22 nays on the amendment.


SPEAKER KRISTENSEN:  The amendment is not adopted.  The call is raised.


CLERK:  Mr. President, the next amendment I have to the bill, Senator Suttle, I'm back to your amendment, Senator.  (AM4099 is found on page 1471 of the Legislative Journal.)


SPEAKER KRISTENSEN:  Senator Suttle, you...


SENATOR SUTTLE:  Thank you, Mr. President, members of the Legislature.  I have Amendment 4099 and what this amendment does is say that after seven years, at the beginning of eight years, if the unification system wants to break up, then they'll have to give back their incentive money.  That's all it does.  They can consolidate and that will be fine, but if they want to break up and go back on their...  in their separate ways, they will have to repay the state the incentive money that they received, and that's all there is to my amendment.  I'd urge you to support the amendment.




SENATOR BOHLKE:  Yes, Senator Suttle, I may Lave a question for you.  Currently, what do you think the provisions of the bill do at the end of seven years?


SENATOR SUTTLE:  I'm not sure.  That's the reason I put this amendment in.  Because I ...  I think that they can decide to go back and nothing happens to them if they do go back to separate school districts.


SENATOR BOHLKE:  No, I think it reads that if they choose to go back to status quo, they have to pay back the money, but actually we say they have to pay it back with interest and you say you just have to pay it back?


SENATOR SUTTLE:  No, with interest as well.


SENATOR BOHLKE:  You didn't say that ...  now Legal Counsel is saying you say they have to consolidate or pay back, is...




SENATOR SUTTLE:  That's correct.


SENATOR BOHLKE:  Oh, that's what I missed.  (Laugh) So that is what is different.  rent...


SENATOR SUTTLE:  That's what's different.


SENATOR BOHLKE:  ...  about your amendment, which I think everyone should understand.  Currently, the bill reads at' the end of seven years you may continue to be unified, you may consolidate, or if you go back to status quo, you have to pay the incentive money back with interest.  You are saying at the end of seven years you may ...  you either have to consolidate or go back and if you go back, you pay the money back.


SENATOR SUTTLE:  That's correct.


SENATOR BOHLKE:  All right.  Thank you.  I ...  I wanted that clarification.  I think people needed to understand the difference between the bill and this amendment.  Thank you.




SENATOR DIERKS:  Mr. Speaker and members of the body, I...I'm not really sure, I guess, what Senator Suttle's doing, but if it's to force consolidation then of course I'm in opposition to that.  I ...  I think we continue to fight that battle.  We've already fought it on three ...  or two amendments this ...  today.  I see little sense for us to continue to battle that.  We are not into forced consolidation, I hope, because that's not what the good faith effort was with this piece of legislation..  Let's get back to the...  let's get back to the bill as it was introduced.  Let's leave like it is and advance it.  Don't support the Suttle amendment.  Thank you.


SPEAKER KRISTENSEN:  Senator Wickersham.


SENATOR WICKERSHAM:  Mr. Speaker, I also rise in opposition to Senator Suttle's amendment.  I think it largely deals with the subject matter, as ...  at least as I understood it of a prior amendment by others that we rejected.  I see no reason to place




this kind of a constraint on the activity that's being undertaken.  It's my belief that it might actually impede the objectives of the bill that school districts have entered '.,into these kinds of arrangements.  We think they're going to be beneficial arrangements.  They shouldn't be induced to avoid them simply because, by entering into them, they might unavoidably be brought to some conclusion that wouldn't be appropriate for them at some distant time in the future and that they might be' unwilling to contemplate at the time they're entering into the unification agreement, but still being able to realize significant advantages simply by entering' into the unification agreement.  So I oppose Senator Suttle's amendment.




SENATOR JONES:  Mr. President and members of the body, could I ask Senator Suttle a question, please?


SPEAKER KRISTENSEN:  Senator Suttle, would you respond?




SENATOR JONES:  You're saying that after seven years they have to consolidate or stay as a unification?


SENATOR SUTTLE:  No, they have to pay back.  They either consolidate or they pay back their incentive money plus interest.


SENATOR JONES:  They couldn't stay unified.




SENATOR JONES:  I ...  I guess the problem I see in that, if you have three schools that's kind of in a row, you know, and they've been unified these years and the center one would be the logical one, you know, for them to consolidate in.


SENATOR SUTTLE:  They don't have to leave their ...  their ...  the attendance center.  There's nothing in this bill that talks about moving an attendance center.  We're talking about ...  see, in Omaha we have 48 schools and we're ail in the same...we're




all in the same district and we all have ...  and those 48 attendance centers don't move.  They don't close.  They don't change.  There's nothing in this that says they...that any attendance center has to close.


SENATOR JONES:  Yes, I guess I ...  the point I was trying to bring out is if they did, have to consolidate and move into one building in place of three, it might be the newest building sitting in the middle and it might be left vacant then and they'd be moving back into the old one, see.


SENATOR SUTTLE:  That ...  that's not the...  I don't think that that is ...  is the discussion that we're having.  If...  if there is a super board and there's representation on that super board from all the school attendance centers then that ...  they will make that decision on what is most beneficial to the school district.


SENATOR JONES:  Thank you.


SENATOR SUTTLE:  They do not have to leave any attendance center...


SENATOR JONES:  Thank you.


SENATOR SUTTLE:  ...  if they wanted...  if they want to keep them open and do them that way.


SENATOR JONES:  And still operate as a "consolid" district.




SENATOR JONES:  Yes.  I'm still going to rise in opposition of, Senator Suttle's amendment 'cause I ...  I think it's going to force consolidation and that's what we don't want to happen.  And if they want to do it out there on their own, well, fine, but if we say that they have to do it at the end of seven years I'd object to that.  Thank you.


SPEAKER KRISTENSEN:  Senator Cudaback.


SENATOR CUDABACK:  Mr. Speaker, I, too, rise to oppose the amendment.  I think Senator Lynch, he hit the nail on the head




when he says we're not out to close schools, we're out to be more efficient.  And I think this is exactly what 1219 does.  It makes us more efficient and with this I really can't see how this amendment would help the efficiency of the...  if they ,unified and they're efficient, you keep going like they are and I just think that it proves a point.  And Senator Lynch was exactly right.  This is a bill is out for efficiency and I think the people will understand that.  Thank you.


SPEAKER KRISTENSEN:  Senator Robinson.  Senator Vrtiska.


SENATOR VRTISKA:  Thank you, Mr. Speaker.  I rise in opposition to the Suttle amendment.  I think that Senator Wickersham spoke to it as well as I could.  I think that we are going to make a disincentive for people to do this if we, in fact, heap more kinds of rules and regulations on them, and I would like to see an ability for schools to in fact unify and work together.  And if it works out as well as they would hope it would on their own, they would end up at some time consolidating because they thought it was the best thing to do and not because somebody told them they had to and, for that reason, I rise in opposition to the Suttle amendment.  Thank you.


SPEAKER KRISTENSEN:  Senator Suttle, you're recognized to close on your amendment.


SENATOR SUTTLE:  Thank you, Mr. President.  I'll make it short.  We are not about Closing attendance centers.  We are not...this is not about attendance centers or what schools would be there.  I can't understand why you don't see that just because you're one district you have to be one schoolhouse.  That's not true.  if you are one district, that means you have one board and one administration, and that's the difference between what I see as a district and what the school districts out in the western part of the state seem to think that we're about.  We are not about closing attendance centers.  We are about trying to make a more efficient administrative and board entity, and I would appreciate your supporting the amendment.  Mr. President, I'd like a call of the house, roll call vote.


SPEAKER KRISTENSEN:  There has been a request for a call of the house.  All those in favor of placing the house under call vote




aye; all those opposed vote nay.  Record.


CLERK:  20.ayes, 0 nays to place the house under call.


SPEAKER KRISTENSEN:  The house is under calk.  Would all unauthorized personnel please leave the floor.  Would all unexcused members please return to the Chamber and record your presence.  The house is under call.  The house is under call.  Senator Will, the house is under call.  Senator Abboud.  Pedersen, Pederson and Paterson, the house is under call.  Senator Robak, would you please check in.  Senator Landis, would you check in, please.  Senator Dwite Pedersen, would you check in.  The house is under call.  Senator Hartnett, the house is under call.  There's already been a request for a reverse order roll call by Senator Suttle.  Senator Hartnett, would you please check in.  All members are present.  Members, would you please hold your conversations to a minimum so the Clerk can read the roll.  Reverse order, Mr. Clerk.


ASSISTANT CLERK:  (Roll call vote taken.  See pages 1471-72 of the Legislative Journal.) Vote is 12 ayes, 25 nays on the adoption of the Suttle amendment.


SPEAKER KRISTENSEN:  The Suttle amendment is not adopted.  Call is raised.


CLERK:  Mr. President, the...


SPEAKER KRISTENSEN:  Next item, Mr. Clerk.


CLERK:  Senator Bromm, I'm back to your original amendment, Senator.


SPEAKER KRISTENSEN:  Senator Bromm, you're recognized to open.


SENATOR BROMM:  Is this 4159, Mr. Clerk?


CLERK:  It's 4159, yes, sir.


SENATOR BROMM:  Yeah, I'd like to ask leave, Mr. Speaker, to withdraw that amendment.




SPEAKER KRISTENSEN:  It's withdrawn.


CLERK:  I now have 4182 by Senator Bromm.


SENATOR BROMM:  I'd like to take that amendment up.  (AM4182 is found on pages 1472-73 of the Legislative Journal.)


SPEAKER KRISTENSEN:  Senator Bromm, you're recognized to open.


SENATOR BROMM:  Thank you, Mr. Speaker.  This amendment, introduced by myself and Senator Bohlke and Senator Wickersham and Senator Raikes, is the culmination of some work that we started on early in the session and actually had a hearing in Education Committee on...  on a similar idea as what this amendment would accomplish and, as a result of that hearing, I think refined our thoughts.  And let me tell you what it's all about.  We have a problem now, it was brought to my attention at a public meeting in my district last fall, with ...  as a result of 806 and the budget authority and the levy limits of 1114.  When we have a district with a Class III that is the budget-setting district and we have several affiliated Class I's, if each entity submits their budget to the Class III and then the Class III absorbs that information and ...  and adopts a budget, if that budget is over $1.10, results in a levy over $1.10, there is no process in the statute for how to resolve that problem.  The only thing the Class III board has the authority to do is to not approve a budget for a Class I where they are proposing to spend more than the average cost per pupil when you average their cost and the Class III's cost for elementary students.  So we're in a dilemma there and Russ Inbody at the Department of Education and others pointed this out, how is a Class III going to resolve that?  And it may be that the only resolution' they can have of that right now would be for them to reduce their own budget and to take 100 percent of the hit, so to speak, in their own budget unless the other districts would be cooperative enough and kind enough to voluntarily absorb a portion of the reduction.  So this amendment attempts to put a process in place for dealing with what I've just described to you, and this is how it works.  If you have that situation, first of all,' the Class III board would look at the cash reserve, general fund, cash reserve of each district.  To the extent that any district has cash fund reserves in excess of 15 percent they would, first




of all, reduce the budgeted cash reserve of that district to 15 percent.  Why 15 percent?  In the hearing that we had in Education Committee and in speaking with some of those involved in education, 'administrators, it's their...  it's their feeling that roughly two to three months of operating expenditures is a ...  a level of cash reserve that is good ...  a good business...a good business plan, and that ...  and that equates to roughly 15 percent generally of the general fund budget.  So we're suggesting that if someone comes in, is asking for "X" number of dollars and they have a budgeted cash reserve of 30 percent or 40 percent, you'd first of all look to take them down to the 15 percent cash reserve.  Secondly, if that reduction wasn't enough to get you under the $1.10, the next thing they look at is the ...  each district's general fund budget of expenditures the last two years, the last two years, taking out special ed.  Since special ed expenditures are something that you really don't have control over, that could gyrate up and down depending on if a special ed student comes in or goes out of your district.  So you would average the last two years of general fund budgeted expenditures minus the special ed budget.  And if the budgeted request was more than that average, you would then look to the difference to reduce the budget by that amount to get down to the $1.10.  Now if...  if more than one district falls into that category, then there's a proportionate reduction between the districts.  Now, it would be my...  it would be my intent that by "proportionate" we would mean that if one district was 20 percent over...  over that average and another district was ...  was 10 percent over that average, we would take ...  we would reduce the one that's 20 percent over down to 10, and then we would reduce them proportionately so that each district is taking hopefully a proportionate hit of how to get down to the $1.10.  Now if that isn't enough to get down to the $1.10, the third step is that you just take each of the budgets and you reduce them proportionately to the district's share of the property tax request.  If my district is asking for 20 percent of the property tax request, and we haven't gotten down to $1.10 by doing these first two steps, then my district could take 20 percent of the ...  of the hit from my request for property tax to get down to the $1.10.  That is the ...  that's ...  that's the road map and the process we're trying to put in place to deal with that problem, and hopefully that problem won't come up very often, but where it does come up, it




could be a whale of a I problem unless people are extremely cooperative, unless we've got a solution in the statute.  There is one other part, too, to this amendment and this is a problem that I think the Education Committee tried to address in one or two other bills and it hasn't...  it hasn't worked out that anything's gotten done this session, and that...and that pertains to the building funds.  When 806 was passed it left in statute the ability of each district to levy up to, and Senator Bohlke could correct me, but I think it's 14 cents for a building fund.  Now what that does in the situation that I've just told you about, where you've got the Class III and then you've got, let's say, three affiliated districts, if the...  if one of those affiliated districts could adopt a building fund of 10 cents then it's ...  the way that can be interpreted the parent district, in trying to do this budget, could only levy a dollar throughout...throughout the district, because if they budgeted for a levy of more than a dollar, that affiliated district that had levied 10 cents for building fund would be over $1.10, which isn't legal to do without a vote of the people.  So this says that for the affiliated situation of districts, any special tax like that would have to be approved by the school board of the primary high school district so that we can't have a rogue building fund levy that makes the whole budget unworkable for the entire system and that's ...  those are the two things in this amendment:  the first one providing a process for budgeting to get down to $1.10 where you have affiliated districts; and, secondly, to say that any special tax, like the building fund, would have to be approved by the school board of the primary district.  Having said that, I can only hope, colleagues, that if this amendment goes down, if Senator Raikes...  if Senator Raikes is here, I can only hope that if this amendment goes down in flames like Senator Raikes ...




SENATOR BROMM:  ...  that people set flowers all around my desk too, Senator Raikes.  Thank you, Mr. Speaker.


SPEAKER KRISTENSEN:  Senator Beutler.  Senator Beutler., Senator Wickersham.


SENATOR WICKERSHAM:  Well, I don't think the flowers were.  for




Senator Raikes.  I think they were for an 89-year-old Sergeant-at-Arms who seems to be, I think, capable of outlasting all of us and that might be to the good.  But I do think that Senator Bromm's amendment is Also to the good.  I will probably make some of my friends in the Class I's uncomfortable to hear Senator Bromm and I stand up and make this proposal.  I don't know of any other way to do it.  We were confronted last year with difficulties in finding ways to develop a structure so that the Class I's and the, high schools that they were either affiliated with or a part of could develop budgets that met the 1114 objectives.  And, without completely discarding the 1114 objectives, you've got to have a structure to accomplish that.  There was considerable unhappiness I think with what we did last year but, again, no one came to us with any better ideas that I'm aware of, and it's continuing to be, I'll quite candidly confess it, a source of frustration for me, but that's simply the way it is.  And Senator Bromm's proposal now makes changes that I believe are necessary to continue to accommodate the 1114 objectives, accommodate the common levy and accommodate the affiliation process that was ...  that were decisions prior to 1114.  And hopefully ...  my greatest hope has always been in this process that the patrons of the Class I's, the school boards for the Class I's, the patrons and the school boards for the high school districts that they're either a part of or affiliated with would have candid and constructive conversations about how they were to maintain an educational system for the children in those districts and that you would be able -to, in that discussion, and I think Senator Suttle made some references to it earlier , focus on what was good and appropriate for the children of the district and to provide an educational opportunity on that basis.  I have been saddened that that does not always seem to me to be what has occurred and when that doesn't occur then we have very little choice but to give the kind of direction that Senator Bromm's amendment is now bringing to you for consideration.  Senator Bromm's amendment contains the provisions of a bill that I'd introduced, 1008, somewhat modified.  It simply reduces one of the opportunities to cause the common levy to exceed the $1.10 in a way that doesn't take into consideration the burden, if you will, on the entire system.  it is necessary that there be a much wider consideration of how monies are going to be raised, what purposes they're going to be put to if we're to stay within the




$1.10 limitation.  And I understand that districts always have the opportunity to override those limitations.  I think that's appropriate.  In fact, I'm going to have an amendment later on another bill that will allow the Class I patrons to participate in those override votes and I think that's entirely appropriate.  If they're going to be paying for things, they ought to be able to vote on them.  So it isn't...  it isn't through lack of inattention.  It isn't through a lack of compassion...




SENATOR WICKERSHAM:  ...  for the circumstances that the patrons of the Class I districts find themselves in that Senator Bromm and I are bringing this amendment, or Senator Bohlke.  It is simply our best attempt to find a resolution to some very, very difficult problems.




SENATOR JONES:  Mr. President, and members of the body, could I engage in a little conversation with Senator Bromm?


SPEAKER KRISTENSEN:  Senator Bromm, would you respond?




SENATOR JONES:  You're talking about affiliated districts of the Class I's with II's or III's or whatever they might be.  How does that affect the Class VI system that has Class I's and your high school?


SENATOR BROMM: does ...  it does not affect them.  Well, the second ...  the second part of the amendment dealing with the building fund does pertain to Class I's and Class VI's, but the first part of the amendment dealing with budget does not because my understanding is in the Class VI the high school district establishes the budget entirely at the present time.


SENATOR JONES:  On a Class VI system they would because they don't have no K-12 in the town.  They've got another 1-6 that's another...






SENATOR JONES:  ...  Class 1.




SENATOR JONES:  So I...I ...  how does that; Average out then?  See, I know that affiliated districts can take their 1-6 and average them with a country 1-6, but how do they do it on...on the Class VI system?


SENATOR BROMM:  My understanding, Senator Jones, is that the high school component of the Class VI has the budget-setting authority and they don't have to follow that averaging process.  A Class VI is different than what we're dealing with here.  We're ...  we're dealing with only the Class I affiliation situation.


SENATOR JONES:  That's what I was ...  that's what I was leading up to.




SENATOR JONES:  It really don't involve the Class VI system in your amendment then.


SENATOR BROMM:  Not in the part that you're talking about.  Senator Wickersham ...  what I call Senator Wickersham's part that deals with the building fund levy, the Class I and the Class VI would be affected because I think....I think they have the authority to establish their own building fund in the Class VI now, and if they chose to do that, that would ...  that would eat into the $1.10 levy limitation for the entire district.  So this addresses that part of the Class VI situation.


SENATOR JONES:  Okay.  Thank you.  I'm going to stand up in support of this because anything we can do out there to help the Class I's come to some kind of agreement, I was hoping that they could come down and sit down and all work together, but if they can't do that and you have to go to this three steps that Senator Bromm brings up, I think it's a good amendment to the bill and I hope you'd all support it and just help the Class I's




get their budgets set up.  Thank you.


SPEAKER KRISTENSEN:  Senator Bromm, you're recognized to close on your amendment.


SENATOR BROMM:  Thank you, Mr. Speaker.  I'll be very, very brief, even though I think it's an important subject.  I hope people are following it and, again, just to make sure they know what they're voting on, this addresses the budget-setting situation for the affiliated district area where ...  where it gives very clearly a method of setting the budget to the high school district where you have budget requests exceeding the $1.10 levy limitation.  It sets up a process for getting that levy down to $1.10.  The second thing it does is it clearly says that in a Class VI or an affiliated district situation the high school district shall have to approve any separate building fund that is levied by the Class I district.  Those are the two things it does.  I would ask for your support.


SPEAKER KRISTENSEN:  You've heard the closing.  The question before the body is the adoption of the Bromm amendment to LB 1219.  All those in favor vote aye; all those opposed vote nay.  Have you all voted?  Please record.


CLERK:  27 ayes, 0 nays, Mr. President, on adoption of Senator Bromm's amendment.


SPEAKER KRISTENSEN:  Senator Bromm's amendment is adopted.


CLERK:  I have nothing further to the bill, Mr. President.


SPEAKER KRISTENSEN:  Debate on 1219?  Senator Bohlke, you're recognized to close on the advancement of LB 12.19 to E & R Initial.


SENATOR BOHLKE:  Yes, Mr. Speaker and members, I think we've had a lengthy discussion.  I would point out to you that what before you, as the bill stands, we provide a system for unification.  We make some guidelines that during the first seven years if you break apart that you would have to pay back the incentives with interest.  We address the issue of how Class I's reorganize if they choose to merge or dissolve.  We also clarify the process




for cutting a system tax request down to $1.10, and we specifically point out that a Class I does not have to participate in this.  I would like to thank Senator Dierks for prioritizing this and I would also, at the same time, like' to thank the superintendents and board members from orchard, Ewing, Clearwater and Elgin Who worked very hard to form this idea originally and come forward with it, and I-think that it simply gives schools an additional choice as they look to how they may reorganize and under the recognition that there may be financial straits, financial straits that cause them to look at their current status and realizing this is one more option as to how they may reorganize for the future.  So, with that, I ask for your adoption and support of LB 1219.  Thank you.


SPEAKER KRISTENSEN:  You've heard the closing.  The question before the body is the advancement of LB 1219 to E & R Initial.  All those in favor vote aye; all those opposed vote nay.  Have you all voted?  Please record.


CLERK:  31 ayes, 1 nay on the advancement of LB 1219.


SPEAKER KRISTENSEN:  LB 1219 is advanced.  Items for the record.


CLERK:  Mr. President, Enrollment and Review reports (LB) 1175, (LB) 1161, (LB) 1028, (LB) 59, (LB) 309A, (LB) 1161A and (LB) 1228A as ...  to Select File.  Business and Labor has a confirmation report.  Amendments to be printed:  Senator Beutler, (LB) 922; Senator Chambers to (LB) 922; Senator Hudkins to (LB) 922; Senator Cudaback to (LB) 922; Senator Chambers to (LB) 59; Senator Vrtiska, (LB) 1142; Senator Bruning, (LB) 1176A; Senator Dierks to LB 1073; Senator Wesely, (LB) 1073A; Senator Matzke to (LB) 1193; and a motion from Senator Preister to reconsider a vote taken last evening (re LB 1073), Mr. President.  (See pages 1473-83 of the Legislative Journal.)




CLERK:  (LB) 1219A, Senator Bohlke.  It appropriates funds to implement the provisions of LB 1219.




SPEAKER KRISTENSEN:  Senator Bohlke, you're recognized to open on LB 1219A.


SENATOR BOHLKE:  Yes, Mr. Speaker and members, this is an A bill of $10,000 for development of the rules and regulations for (LB) 1219.  I ask for your adoption.


SPEAKER KRISTENSEN:  Debate on advancement of the bill.  Senator Bohlke, you're recognized to close.  Closing's waived.  The question before the body is the advancement of 1219A.  All those in favor vote aye; all those opposed vote nay.  Have you all voted?  Please record.


CLERK:  31 ayes, 0 nays, Mr. President, on the advancement of 1219A.


SPEAKER KRISTENSEN:  It is advanced.  It's now approximately one-thirty.  We're going to move to Select File, 1998 Speaker priority bills and, members, I'm going to take the bills that are clean.  We'll deal with them first, then we will come back and catch those with amendments in the order that they're listed on the agenda.  Mr. Clerk.