Ninety-Fifth Legislature - Second Session - 1998

Introducer's Statement of Intent

 

LB 1219

 

Education Committee

 

CHAIRPERSON

Ardyce L. Bohlke

 

The following constitutes the reasons for this bill and the purposes which are sought to be accomplished thereby:

 

Legislative Bill 1219 creates a definition and procedures for unified systems. Unified systems are also included in the reorganization incentives.

 

Unified systems are defined as two or more Class II or III school districts participating in an interlocal agreement with approval from the state reorganization committee. The agreement may also include Class I districts. The agreement shall provide that all state aid and property tax resources shall be- shared and a board of at least 1 school board member from each district shall determine the general fund levy to be applied in all participating districts and shall determine the distribution of state aid and property tax resources within the system.

 

The agreement shall also specify whether personnel will be employed by the individual districts or by the unified system. For any certificated staff employed by the unified system, tenure and seniority shall be transferred to the unified system stem and tenure and seniority system

 

provisions shall continue in the system except as provided in 79-850 to 79-858. If a district withdraws or if the interlocal agreement expires and is not renewed, certificated staff formerly employed by a participating district shall be reemployed by the original district and tenure and seniority shall be transferred to the original district. The interlocal agreement shall address how new certificated staff hired by the unified system shall be treated if the interlocal agreement expires and is not renewed. The interlocal agreement shall also require participating districts to pay obligations of the unified system pursuant to sections 79-850 to 79-858 on a pro rata basis based on the adjusted valuations if a district withdraws from the unified system or if the interlocal agreement expires and is not renewed. Additional provisions in the interlocal agreement shall be determined by the participating districts and shall encourage cooperation within the unified system.

 

Section 79-850 is amended to apply the unified system definition for purposes of 79-850 to 79858. if the unified system employs certificated staff. I hose sections contain requirements that apply to reorganized districts for reductions in force, collective-bargaining agreements, the Retirement Incentive Plan, and Staff Development Assistance. Sections 79-851, 79-852, 79-854, 79-855, 79-856, and 79-858 are also amended to harmonize with that addition.

 

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Applications for status as a unified system shall be submitted to the state reorganization committee and shall contain a copy of the interlocal agreement signed by the president of each participating school board. The state committee shall approve or deny applications within 30 days. If the interlocal agreement complies with the requirements and all participating districts have approved the agreement, the committee shall approve the application. Unification agreements shall be effective on June I following approval from the committee or on June 1 of the year specified in tile agreement. The board may begin meeting any time after approval.

 

The department shall recognize the unified system as a single district for state aid, budgeting, accreditation, enrollment of students, state programs, and reporting. The class of district shall be the same as the majority of participating districts, excluding Class I districts. If there are an equal number of Class II and Class III districts, the system shall be recognized as a Class III.

 

School districts in a unified system shall retain their separate identities for all purposes except those specified, and participation in a unified system shall not be considered a reorganization.

 

Section 79-1010 is amended to add unifications to the reorganization incentives. For unifications, the system or participating districts shall file an application with the state committee either following approval of the application for unification or in conjunction with the application for unification. For unifications, 100% of the amount calculated shall be included in the distribution of state aid in the base fiscal year, 75% for the second year, and 50% for the third year. If a unified system consolidates and the boundary change takes effect before August 2, 2001, the consolidated district will be eligible to receive an additional 75%. If a consolidated district is still receiving payments for it unification, the payments for tile remainder of the first 3 years will be at 100% of the amount calculated and the district will receive the difference between tile incentive payments received and WIN, of the amount calculated in the fourth year. If districts are added to the unified system or are added in a consolidation, the additional incentives shall be calculated by the department and added to the incentive payments. Current provisions provide that reorganized districts receive 100% of the amount calculated for each of 3 years and those provisions are not modified.

 

If a unified system discontinues its status as a unified system and does not consolidate prior to the beginning of the eighth year of operating as a unified system. the districts in the unified system shall pay back the incentives. The total incentives paid to the unified system shall be divided between the districts based on the adjusted valuation of each district in the year prior to the discontinuation of the unified system, and each district's share shall be paid back through reductions in state aid in equal amounts for 5 years. If the state aid calculated for a local system is less than the repayment amount in an,, school fiscal year. the remaining repayment will reduce state aid in future school fiscal years.

 

The definition of base fiscal year in 79-1003 is amended by deleting obsolete language. adding unifications. and moving the base fiscal year up to the first school fiscal year after the school fiscal year when the reorganization or unification occurred if the department is notified that incentive payments have been approved on or before October 1 of the school fiscal year in which the reorganization or unification will occur. Because reorganizations and unifications are generally effective on June 1, this change allows the new districts or systems to receive incentives in tile first year of operation.

 

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Section 79-1083.02 is amended by adding unified systems to the definition of primary high school districts.

 

DATE OF HEARING February 9, 1998

 

Senator Ardyce L. Bohlke

Principal Introducer