Debate Transcripts

LB 1229 (1998)

General File

March 9, 1998


PRESIDENT ROBAK:  LB 922 advances.  We now turn to General File, senator priority bills and LB 1229.


CLERK:  LB 1229, Madam President, by Senator Bohlke and others.




(Read title.) The bill was introduced on January 20 of this year, at that time referred to the Education Committee.  The bill was advanced to General File.


PRESIDENT ROBAK:  The Chair recognizes Senator Bohlke to open on the bill.


SENATOR BOHLKE:  Thank you, Madam Chairman.  At the very beginning I need to thank two of the "Peterson" senators, one, Don Pederson for prioritizing it; and, two, Senator Chris Peterson for getting me here today.  As many of you may know, my bachelor's degree is in special education, specifically speech, pathology.  Over the past 30 years, I have observed tremendous strides and major accomplishments and resources dedicated to serving special education students, both at the federal and state level, with the exception of one segment of special students, those who are high ability learners.  In fact, 99.9 percent literally, not figuratively, of federal special education funding is directed to those students with disabilities that cause them to perform in the below average ranges.  Yet for students who need special education because they score well above the average and also have special learning needs, for these special students our efforts and our resources are dismal.  How we as a state rank in state dollars dedicated for gifted students is number one, number one because we spend less than Colorado, Kansas, South Dakota, Wyoming, and Iowa.  our neighbors spend in the range of $150 to $800 per student while we in Nebraska dedicate zero state funds to students with high ability.  At the same time, we wring our hands over how to keep our talented students in this state.  May I suggest that we start by providing them with appropriate learning opportunities.  If we want to keep them, we must first properly educate them.  LB 1229 asks Nebraska to offer programs for all of our special education students regardless of which end of the spectrum their abilities lie.  We have passed legislation requiring our schools to identify students with high ability, but then what?  It must be terribly frustrating to parents when the schools tell them that their son or daughter has been identified as a high ability or gifted student.  And when they ask what opportunities the school will offer them, they are too often told that that will be the parent's responsibility.  They have no special curriculum offerings or training available to the students or staff.  A




large number of schools are unable to offer services because of limited resources.  LB 1229 states for every one dollar schools dedicate, the state will match with two.  In addition, every participating system will receive a $6,000 base.  That may not fund an entire program, but that $6,000 can go a long way to train a staff person or,, in addition, that $6,000 can be combined with another system to hire a part-time gifted coordinator or it may help provide the necessary software in some of our remote areas that connect students to an array of learning experiences unique to high ability learners.  These funds are available to equalized as well as nonequalized schools.  A few examples of what the total funding may mean would be York that has 1,406 students, they would receive a base of $6,000.  Approximately ten ...  they cannot identify beyond 10 percent so 1,406 students at 10 percent would be 136 would equal $19,176 with a district match at least of $9,588.  The total district budget would be at least $34,764.  How about for a small school like Dundy County Public Schools with a total of 383 students?  They would receive a base of $6,000, 10 percent of 383 would be 136, would be $5,168 with a district match of at least 2,584.  That would be a total district budget of at least $13,752.  We as a nation are falling behind other countries when we compare our top math and science students.  The latest TIMSS report shows that the United States ranks far behind Sweden, Netherlands, Iceland, Norway, Canada, Denmark, Switzerland, and although is not as far behind, still behind Germany, France, Czech Republic, Russian Federation, Lithuania, and Italy.  Not only are we regressing at the national level, our state continues to lag behind and in a majority of our schools fail to offer an appropriate learning environment for our talented students.  Too often they become turned off rather than turned on to reaching their potential.  Listen to some experts from the numerous letters we have received.  One I thought was particularly interesting that I received from a parent who is from the Holdrege area and it says, good luck with LB 1229.  I hope you get it passed.  My children are out of high school now, but the lack of a real gifted program is very evident in many areas of the state.  The student who said at the hearing he had taken the available gifted programs and those were not challenging enough knew from experience what he was talking about.  Not every child As an Einstein and I do not particularly believe that acceleration through skipping grades is a good idea




for most of these students.  I do believe, however, that a better program does need to be available to students, particularly in rural areas and particularly to gifted students who have the potential to become leaders in many areas Of life.  In dealing with the teachers of the available programs, I have found the teacher did not appear to have any control over what was to be made available to the gifted students and what was available only seemed geared to about one grade up which left us in the same boat as before--a smart child who was bored with what was offered and told to do something on your own when a more challenging program was requested.  I have never been to college, much less been a teacher.  I don't know the trials and tribulations of being a teacher, but I do hope that LB 1229 will create adequate gifted programs so that the excuses do not need to be we don't have additional funds, anything else to offer, or other explanations.  We do need to address the needs of the gifted child in order to keep that child interested in staying in the state of Nebraska.  When that child leaves school or leaves college, that child most likely will want to leave the state.  The education that teachers and the system are willing to give a gifted student or any student who is truly interested in knowledge are an indication of the values of that system and the value we place on our children should be very, very high.  Again, good luck with LB 1229 and the letter is signed.  We have certainly heard from the parent organization that is organized throughout the state, obviously in support, and one letter from them in the end says, we fully support the provisions of this legislation.  The formula for funding will encourage even the smallest school systems to make provisions for the special learning needs of high ability students.  I think that is particularly important and I have some handouts to assist you.  But finally, I would like to say to you to identify students is a start, but it is not enough.  We can do better and we should.  Thank you.


PRESIDENT ROBAK:  Thank you, Senator Bohlke.  Senator Elmer.


SENATOR ELMER:  Thank you.


PRESIDENT ROBAK:  Excuse me.  Before we begin, Mr. Clerk.


CLERK:  Senator Pederson and Bohlke would move to amend with




AM3446.  (AM3446 found on page 881 of the Legislative Journal.)


PRESIDENT ROBAK:  The Chair recognizes Senator Pederson to open on the amendment.


SENATOR D. PEDERSON:  Thank you, Madam Lieutenant Governor, members of the body.  I looked in the Lincoln newspaper yesterday and I thought there must be a sign about things.  I don't know how many of you saw this article in yesterday's Lincoln paper, but it's a very good full-page spread about a seven-year-old child in Venango, Nebraska.  And this seven-year-old child is leaning against a chemistry book, well, two chemistry books, a physical science book, a health biology book, and another college course science book.  This child ...  they thought that perhaps this child had a lot of potential when the child knew the alphabet at IS months.  And anyway, this child has been continuing to develop to the point that although he's seven years old now, it's anticipated he's going to finish high school when he's nine and his parents say, what do we do, help him blow out the candles and then he goes off to Harvard?  Well, anyway, here's Venango, Nebraska, sitting out...  it's over that direction, it was pointed out to me by the Speaker I had the wrong direction.  But anyway, Venango is in the southwest corner of the state of Nebraska; and it identifies a problem that for a long time this state has not been looking at.  When I agreed to prioritize this bill, I then started studying it carefully and I was very enthused about the prospects of this bill and what it was going to accomplish.  But I became concerned about one aspect of it, initially and that aspect was that the bill provided that, number one, we identify students of high ability and that's been the law for a while.  But secondly, it said that the school districts or the school entities must go forward with a program.  And I became concerned about that because people in my area and I think probably in many of your areas, too, do not like mandates, whether funded or unfunded.  But with this particular program, when you say that they Must initiate the program, it doesn't give them any alternative.  Now in North Platte and in Hershey in my district and perhaps others that I'm not sure of, they had to drop special ...  or they had to drop gifted education because they didn't feel they could put it into their budget.  And I know that their feeling is that they will probably go ahead and do




this; if they have the incentives that are contained in this program, but it should be their option as to whether or not they want to get into this program.  Because if they want to expand the program, they're going to get $6,000 initially; but if they want to expand their program, it's going to be a two-for-one match.  So if the school district then, wants to add to the program, they will put in one dollar and the state will match it up to the limits that Senator Bohlke has discussed.  It's a good opportunity for schools to do this, but I felt that the word "may" should be inserted instead of "shall" so that's my first amendment or first portion of my amendment which in on page 20, line 19 it says that the school district shall identify with high learners and that they may provide accelerated or differentiated curriculum programs.  And that I believe...  I believe that the school districts will do this.  I think it's just simply a question of, do we want to at this time require that it be done?  The second portion of the amendment deals with more or less a cleanup aspect to this bill.  Over on page 21, line 19, the figure $6 million was used as a basis for everything; but we have the ordinary percentage growth that is provided for under Nebraska law.  And so I think that the reason for this amendment is to remove the word "six million" and for ensuing years put the amount of the prior year's appropriation so that will build in the automatic increase that's provided for by our other laws.  The third amendment, or third portion of the amendment, I think is important, too, because on page 22 on line 11 and then carrying on to line 12 it would read instead of "operate an approved system" it says that these school districts will "provide an approved accelerated or differentiated curriculum program for students identified as learners with high ability." And the reason for the use of the word "provide" in that sense is that this gives school districts an opportunity to work with other school districts to or and with ESUs in a way to pool their efforts to have a viable program for this high ability learner system.  I think that that's a good opportunity and particularly those of us in the rural areas that have been hit hard with 1114 there's going to be a bit of an apprehension about getting into the program.  If they have an opportunity to talk this over with their neighbor schools, neighbor school districts and merge their assets, they will be able to come forward with a good program.  The big question is why are we doing this at all?  I mentioned the young student in Venango and




there are students throughout our school systems in Nebraska that have not been accurately identified.  And then even if you identified them under our current law, what do you do with them after you identify them?  There's nothing.  There's no program for them.  And as Senator Bohlke has said, Nebraska is virtually an island unto itself in that all of the surrounding, states do provide funding for the accelerated learning.  We simply have not done that.  And research has shown that these students that are high ability students don't just get along fine without high school programs designed to meet their unique needs.  They have to have programs that will achieve what their goals are.  I received two letters from parents and I'd like to read this one to you.  I have two children, one with severe disability in middle school in District 66 and one exceptionally gifted in the sixth grade in District 66.  My daughter, IQ probably less than 30, is probably just as far below the norm as My Bon is above the norm.  We have never been able to determine it with present testing methods.  Both of them need significantly modified school programs.  In fact, many times it seems much more difficult to determine what my son needs because by the time we make a decision it seems he's already mastered the subject under discussion.  These kids learn fast without repetition and with an intensity that's hard to believe.  So what I'd like to have you remember in that is here's a person with both ends of the spectrum.  They have a student that is severely limited in what they can learn and one that learns at such a fantastic level that they can't keep up with him, but in a way they're the same thing.  They're not the student that's right in the middle.  They're students that have special needs.  Both of them have their special needs and we're not achieving the handling of the need of the high learner.  There's another letter, I have an exceptionally gifted 13-year-old son who attends high school in Council Bluffs and attends UNO.  He goes to Council Bluffs school because there is no appropriate program in our local school district.  In fact, one administrator told me my son was not gifted.  Iowa has maintained gifted education for all identified students.  We pay tuition for our son to attend high school and college.  In college, he is taking organic chemistry and music.  Until we were able to find an appropriate educational setting, our son experienced significant health problems.  This is a matter that is extremely serious and it's something that needs our attention.  One of the advantages or




several of the advantages perhaps to this particular bill is that it helps all school districts.  They all have the opportunity to participate in this program.  And it does not diminish or affect or limit other programs such as special education programs that we already have.  And another thing is that the schools have the opportunity to merge their resources with other schools which lead to cooperation in a lot of our areas which they should be doing.  And finally, the other thing that I think is significant about this is that this will not be a budget burden on the school districts because the monies that are appropriated in this particular program are appropriated outside of the ordinary budget process.  So I would ask your approval to the proposed amendment.  Thank you.


PRESIDENT ROBAK:  Thank you, Senator Pederson.  Senator Elmer to speak to the Pederson amendment.


SENATOR ELMER:  Thank you very much, Madam President.  The article that Senator Pederson referred to that was in the Lincoln Star yesterday, Journal, was about Brandenn Bremmer from Venango which is in my district.  I presented a bill to the Education Committee relative to the problem that the Bremmers are having because when the young man reaches six or seven years old, he starts to run afoul of truancy laws.  And in rural Nebraska, the forcing of a talented, very genius class, one in a million mentality to go to a first grade when he's sophomore in high school level is not appropriate.  And I would like to ask Senator Bohlke a question if I may.


PRESIDENT ROBAK:  Senator Bohlke, will you yield?




SENATOR ELMER:  Senator Bohlke, does 1229 and/or with Senator Pederson's amendment address the problem that young Brandenn Bremmer has in Venango?


SENATOR BOHLKE:  Senator Elmer, the problem of forcing people, the home school forcing people to say that they are home schooling for religious purposes when they are not, no, it does not.  It certainly gets some funds to that district so it would allow them to do some innovative things for Brandenn within the




public schools, but it does not do anything to clarify the situation that his parents are currently forced into home schooling.  However, if they had the money, perhaps they wouldn't have to home school.


SENATOR ELMER:  Would you consider an amendment on Select File to that effect to be friendly?


SENATOR BOHLKE:  I would be willing to discuss it with you.  As you heard, the people who represented the home schoolers and, you know, I wouldn't want to get this to be a debate between them on this bill, but they actually said they were supportive of it as long as we could come up with wording that would not currently infringe on any of the rights that people have who are home schooling for religious purposes as I remember their testimony.  If we could do that, then, yes, I'd be very supportive on Select File of getting that accomplished.


SENATOR ELMER:  Of course, our intent is not to upset current situations that seem to be working quite well.  And I think that that should be part of the record that we should look for that and that our intention is not to change that that we have, but to augment it so that people who would like to take advantage of home schooling opportunities, especially with very gifted students like this, should be able to without having to lie to be able to.  Thank you, Madam President.


PRESIDENT ROBAK:  Thank you, Senator Elmer.  Senator Wesely.  Senator Beutler.


SENATOR BEUTLER:  Not on this amendment.


PRESIDENT ROBAK:  Senator Maurstad.


SENATOR MAURSTAD:  Thank you, Madam President.  If I could ask Senator Bohlke a question or two.  Senator...


PRESIDENT ROBAK:  Senator Bohlke, will you yield?




SENATOR MAURSTAD:  I have a great deal of interest in this




particular issue but just want to explore some of what you're ...  how you think this is going to play out within the school districts and whatnot.  If I understand it right in the bill, the bill itself does not indicate how the identification of the student will occur.  Is that correct?


SENATOR BOHLKE:  There will be rules and regs that provide the guidance.


SENATOR MAURSTAD:  Okay, so the rules and regs will indicate what will be acceptable for identification.  The bill itself doesn't do that.


SENATOR BOHLKE:  Right.  It will be the guidelines there for the local school Systems to use.


SENATOR MAURSTAD:  Okay.  So the ...  what guidelines are generally used now?


SENATOR BOHLKE:  I have a rule, the rule here.  Generally it says multiple testing devices are used to identify a child and I'm looking, legal counsel is bringing me the wording here.


SENATOR MAURSTAD:  Okay, while they're doing that, if I understand it now, though, they can identify for intellectual, cultural, artistic, there are a number of different ways that a student may be gifted.  Is that correct?


SENATOR BOHLKE:  That is correct.


SENATOR MAURSTAD:  And this bill.  would,..  allow for school districts to develop programs in any of those areas.


SENATOR BOHLKE:  Currently, yes, that's correct and, Senator Maurstad, it says "multiple assessment measures and appraisals so that schools can identify students in different talent areas and at different stages."


SENATOR MAURSTAD:  So not only is the local decision going to be with the adoption of the Pederson amendment whether or not school districts participate at all, but even then one step further how they'll participate.




SENATOR BOHLKE:  I'm sorry, yes, I think ...  would you repeat the last part, Senator?


SENATOR MAURSTAD:  Well, with the adoption of the Pederson amendment, the local decision will not only be-whether or not they participate in what is being provided for under 1229, but also in what area they may participate.  So they might decide, maybe if I provide an example that will be easier to answer.  They might decide to access the funding associated with 1229, have a gifted program, and do it in music only.  Is that correct?


SENATOR BOHLKE:  They have a great deal of flexibility-and would be up, like you say, to that local board from their patrons to decide on how to serve those students.  But if the students are identified, I would think they would be very pressed by those parents to have a program that serves them.


SENATOR MAURSTAD:  Was that a yes?




SENATOR MAURSTAD:  Okay, thought ...  and so, because I want to clarify a couple of things.  One is there's gifted in a lot of different areas and we're not just necessarily talking about book sense in mathematics or science or language, that really this bill would provide far more than that if the local area wanted to proceed in that particular direction.


SENATOR BOHLKE:  That's correct.  Some children are very gifted in cartooning and so it may be in the art area, you're correct.


SENATOR MAURSTAD:  So within the context of our choice, if a school district wanted to differentiate itself from its neighbors and develop a real good drama program that would attract students to their school for that purpose, they could use 1229...




SENATOR MAURSTAD: do that, couldn't they?




SENATOR BOHLKE:  They could or some schools could almost become magnets.  They could pool their money and one school could be a magnet for drama, one for music, one for math and science.


SENATOR MAURSTAD:  Okay, thank you.  I appreciate that and I'll punch my light on for further questions.  Thank you.


PRESIDENT ROBAK:  Thank you, Senator Maurstad.  Senator Engel.


SENATOR ENGEL:  Members of the body, I recall approximately four years ago when Senator Jan McKenzie brought this up, this subject up as far as we should be doing something for the gifted students.  Something I've always believed in ever since I was on the local school board, but at that point in time we could not afford the program on our own.  Now when Senator McKenzie first brought it up, it was going to be a mandate but be no funding with it.  So I got up and opposed it, not because I didn't believe in the program but I did not believe in sending something down to local districts without the proper funding.  As far as I'm concerned, all mandates should, if they are necessary at all, the funding should follow because I do believe, and now this isn't really discussing this amendment, I just got in town and so I missed the first portion of your debate so this is just in support of the total bill because I do believe that this segment of our student population has been the most neglected for all of these years.  They have the same problems in a different end of the spectrum as those who are...have problems with the developmentally disabled as far as education is concerned.  We do take care of those people.  I think we have to take care of these people with all these talents because they are the future leaders of our country.  And so many of them go down the wrong path because they are not, challenged.  I've seen that in my community, and I'm sure you've seen it in your communities and we see it across the country.  In fact, occasionally we read about those people with all these talents but misdirected talents.  So I really all I'm up here for right now is I totally support this bill because we are setting up a program, but we are sending the funds with it and we are not putting a burden on the local school districts and I think we're going to make our total education system much better in the state of Nebraska.  Thank you.




PRESIDENT ROBAK:  Thank you, Senator.  Senator Maurstad.


SENATOR MAURSTAD:  Thank you, Madam President.  If I could ask Senator Pederson a question, Don Pederson.


PRESIDENT ROBAK:  Senator Pederson, will you yield?




SENATOR MAURSTAD:  Senator, and I fully understand your ...  the reason for your bringing this amendment relative to the whole mandate issue and whatnot.  Could you, however, take some of my time and answer the circumstance that's presented here in that we're increasing potential disparity among districts, those that may choose to provide something along this lines and those that don't, and are you concerned about that unequal opportunity that may arise for individual students in varying districts?


SENATOR D. PEDERSON:  Yes, I'm concerned about that.  Not all school districts have equal opportunities in the first place as you well know.  Some are better funded than others.  They're able to offer a broader curriculum.  Currently, there are school districts like Omaha, for example, that does have gifted programs.  They don't have them in some other parts of the state.  I think that the essence of this bill allows everybody to get into the program and maybe it will engender some cooperation among school districts so they can have sharing with other school districts in order to achieve the ultimate goal.  I really would like to have it that all school districts must be under the program as the bill was originally drafted.  But reality tells me that this would not be accepted certainly in my area because although it is not an unfunded mandate, it would be in that category unless they did some cooperative ventures with others, it would be an underfunded mandate.  And I think that's in a way is bad.


SENATOR MAURSTAD:  Thank you, Senator.  I appreciate that response.  Madam President, I have some concern about this amendment and it's primarily because I think that we need to be careful relative to adding new public policy that increases the disparity among districts with individual students and whether




or not we eventually if we do enough of that run afoul with our state constitution, that may in fact bring in question the complete school finance funding formula that we have and how we go about providing fair equal opportunity to students regardless of which particular school district they live in.  You know, I for one have talked a great deal about the whole unfunded mandate issue and whether or not that's used appropriately in the right context.  But I also believe that as creatures of the state all local government and whatever we require local government to in fact perform for the citizens of the state turns out to be a mandate.  And whether we fund it or not I think is the question that Senator Pederson is raising and it's a legitimate one.  And so I guess in this case if we were to, in fact, require all schools to do so, provide 50 percent funding, then are we talking about a partially funded mandate similar to special education, similar to a lot of other programs with other local entities?  So I'm going to continue to...  I have some concern about the amendment.  I'm going to continue to listen to the...


PRESIDENT ROBAK:  one minute.


SENATOR MAURSTAD:  ...  discussion.  And as more members arrive, it might not be as critical for all of us to turn on our green light and so I'll continue to listen to the debate.  Thank you.


PRESIDENT ROBAK:  Thank you, Senator.  Senator Robinson, to speak to the Pederson amendment.


SENATOR ROBINSON:  Madam President, members of the body, I share some of the thoughts that the last speaker gave.  And my concern is that there will be schools out there that, and there always will be, that if they're not forced to do this they won't do it.  And I think we've gone long enough without this type of special education because giftedness is part of special education and it's practically been totally ignored in many school districts.  Although I know that part of giftedness is the teaching of higher level courses, but many schools the level of the courses don't go high enough for the gifted students.  So I will ponder what Senator Pederson has said, but I think everyone ought to be made part of it.  And I think the ...  and I know Senator Pederson said this and others, that sharing with ESU should be a great




opportunity.  And I know Senator Dierks has a bill and I don't think it's been before us, where four or five school districts could get together and they could...and that would be an ideal place for a giftedness program.  And also I think when we get to the point of distance learning and that's coming into place I think that could be part of the gifted program also, so I will ponder what Senator Pederson has in front of us and make my decision there.  But I tend to come down on where everyone should be part of it especially when we have the ESU network around the state of Nebraska.  Thank you.


PRESIDENT ROBAK:  Thank you, Senator Robinson.  Senator Cudaback.


SENATOR CUDABACK:  Madam President and members, I guess I agree with Senator Pederson and I will vote for his amendment, but I'd like to ask Senator Bohlke a question first.


PRESIDENT ROBAK:  Senator Bohlke, will you yield?




SENATOR CUDABACK:  Senator Bohlke, it says in there that the school districts must show the Department of Education the criteria used once a year that they base their high achievers or ...what criteria will that by the state, or is that by the school or who determines that?


SENATOR BOHLKE:  Those rules and regs will be developed and then like anything in our schools, any program that's offered in our schools, it has to be approved by the state Department of Education.


SENATOR CUDABACK:  But each school will then have their own criteria, is that what it...  ?


SENATOR BOHLKE:  They will have their own criteria that meet the guidelines under the rules and regs just like any other program in our schools.


SENATOR CUDABACK:  Okay, so each school wouldn't necessarily have to have the same...




SENATOR BOHLKE:  No.  It would leave that flexibility to those local boards.


SENATOR CUDABACK:  Within the whole picture.


SENATOR BOHLKE:  Within the guidelines.


SENATOR CUDABACK:  Yeah.  Now will these students more or less be based...would they be compared with students within the school, within the system, or will they be compared maybe to the whole state as a whole?


SENATOR BOHLKE:  Well, they use multiple measures and so those tests that they use the multiple measurements are, you know, some of them national tests and so the scoring is looked at from those standardized tests that are used statewide.


SENATOR CUDABACK:  Okay, so it does go back to the standardized test.


SENATOR BOHLKE:  That is one of the assessments used.




SENATOR BOHLKE:  There may be a number of other assessments used also.


SENATOR CUDABACK:  Okay.  So it isn't necessarily-just based to that one.  It could be a number of...


SENATOR BOHLKE:  Right.  In fact, it requires that they use a number of assessments because you may miss a certain ...  you may miss a certain dimension of a child's giftedness by Simply using one of those standardized tests.


SENATOR CUDABACK:  And I guess I missed part of the part where you explained the grant and I didn't...  could you go through that maybe just a little bit?






SENATOR CUDABACK:  Thank you, you're so kind here.


SENATOR BOHLKE:  Every school that wishes to participate would receive $6,000.  We also set up out of that A bill $300,000 that they could apply for additional start-up funding if they needed it, but every school would receive $6,000.  Then in addition to that, as I've explained it, for every dollar that the school dedicates, the state actually puts in $2.  And so I've heard Senator Wehrbein call it a leverage partnership that he sees, but it requires the school to dedicate $1, the state comes in with a match of $2 and so it depends on the number of students.  After you take the $6,000 base out for every school and after you remove the $300,000, you saw in your handout what that leaves a balance.  And then that is prorated out to the number of students who qualify.


SENATOR CUDABACK:  Time, you can have it.


SENATOR BOHLKE:  Pardon?  And it is not counted as a resource to the school and the other thing, Senator Cudaback, that I had pointed out, that it goes to all schools regardless if they're equalized or nonequalized.


PRESIDENT ROBAK:  Thank you, Senator.  Senator Maurstad.  Senator Stuhr.


SENATOR STUHR:  Thank you, Madam President and members.  I supported this bill out of committee, but I do have some reservations about the amount that has been set aside; and I believe I discussed that also in committee.  Six million dollars which seems to be quite a large amount, when I do have the concern that there are about 20,000 students in Nebraska that their school budgets have only 75 percent of their needs.  And I have a bad concern because I am concerned about all students receiving a quality education in Nebraska.  Those 60-some schools are going to have to cut considerably to be able to even function next year and even be an accredited school so I have a couple of questions and concerns.  Senator Bohlke, could you address how many school districts right now have gifted programs and do we have a list of those.


PRESIDENT ROBAK:  Senator Bohlke, will you yield?




SENATOR BOHLKE:  There's no way to know.




SENATOR BOHLKE:  Unless we called each one.


SENATOR STUHR:  All right.  But we have identified 29,000 students, is that...


SENATOR BOHLKE:  Generally, Senator Stuhr, when you look at special education, the spectrum, whether it's on the lower end or in the gifted area, you use a measurement of 10 percent and so that generally holds true.  It may be 1 percent above or 2 percent, I have heard it could be as high as 12 percent but we just use 10 percent...




SENATOR BOHLKE:  ...  the same as we do for other special education programs.


SENATOR STUHR:  All right.  Thank you.  I'm also looking then...  according to the handout, if 28C districts do receive the $6,000 base is about $2 million, then maybe, Senator Pederson, that leaves about $4 million, is that correct, that will then be distributed per student to the schools that have qualified?


SENATOR D. PEDERSON:  Senator Stuhr.




SENATOR D. PEDERSON:  I believe that there was a handout that ...




SENATOR D. PEDERSON:  ...  I don't know if you got a copy of it ...


SENATOR STUHR:  Yes, um-hum.


SENATOR D. PEDERSON:  ...that showed how it was to be distributed, and I think that pretty well identifies it.  it's




to be prorated out among those students.


SENATOR STUHR:  All right.  But if we do not have all of the districts that participate, that sum then could go to a very few concentrated districts.  Is that correct?


SENATOR D. PEDERSON:  I'd let Senator Bohlke answer that one since that's part of the major portion of the bill rather than the amendment.


SENATOR BOHLKE:  I'm sorry, Senator Stuhr.  I was talking to Senator Hudkins about her passing her germs on to me last week.


SENATOR STUHR:  Looking at the prorated amount of nearly $4 million, then that is going to be divided with only those districts that have qualified and participated in this program.  So I mean we're really not talking, I mean possibly not talking about the 29,000 students.  It could be 10,000.


SENATOR BOHLKE:  That would be up to school districts if they want to turn down $6,000 base and $2 for every $1 that they wish to spend.  Now I can't imagine that a number of school districts aren't going to be able to put a pencil to that and think that, yes, they would certainly want to participate 'For the 10 percent of the students they have in their population.






SENATOR STUHR:  Okay, so you're assuming that most of the school districts then will participate but we don't know.


SENATOR BOHLKE:  Hearing what they say about the $1.10 levy and the $1, 1 would imagine that they would certainly look at this favorably.


SENATOR STUHR:  Okay.  All right, thank you.  I will just close again by saying that I am concerned about the total amount of $6 million being allocated for the program.  I do believe we need to do something in this area, but I'm not convinced that we actually need to appropriate the $6 million.  Thank you.




SPEAKER KRISTENSEN:  Seeing no further lights, Senator Pederson, you are recognized to close on your amendment.


SENATOR D. PEDERSON:  Once again, Mr. Speaker, members of the body, my amendment is a very simple three-part amendment which simply makes it optional among the various school districts as to whether they wish to engage in this program.  It identifies that the $6 million in the first year will be a different figure the next year because of our natural rate of growth.  And finally, the amendment provides that this will allow the school districts to provide for this kind of education rather than to operate which allows them to transfer some of the direct operation of the program to either an ESU or to another school district in a cooperative venture.  So I would ask the approval of the body to the amendment.  Thank you.


SPEAKER KRISTENSEN:  You've heard the closing.  The question before the body is the adoption of the Don Pederson amendment to LB 1229.  All those in favor vote aye, all those opposed vote nay.  Have you all voted?  Senator Pederson, I'm sorry, your microphone wasn't on.


SENATOR D. PEDERSON:  I would ask for a call of the house and would accept call-in votes.


SPEAKER KRISTENSEN:  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 ...  Senator Pederson.


SENATOR D. PEDERSON:  I'd like to withdraw my request.  We have 25 votes.  Thank you.


SPEAKER KRISTENSEN:  It is withdrawn.  Please record.


CLERK:  25 ayes, 0 nays on adoption of Senator Pederson's amendment.


SPEAKER KRISTENSEN:  The amendment is adopted.


CLERK:  Mr. President, Senator Chris Peterson would move (recorder malfunction) 3620, Senator.  (See page 971 of the




Legislative Journal.)


SPEAKER KRISTENSEN:  Senator Chris Peterson, you're recognized to open on your amendment.


SENATOR C.  PETERSON:  Yes, Mr. Chairman, members of the body, thank you.  Amendment 3620 will help clarify legislation that was passed last year, LB 476.  Currently, there are three state grant programs in the state of Nebraska, all administered by the Coordinating Commission and funded by state and federal dollars.  Last year during debate it was determined that putting the term "regional" impacted three colleges in the state and so they were not able to receive these funds.  Excuse me, I was out of breath.  What this amendment would do is it would put the language back to the way it was before LB 476 and hold those three colleges harmless as was the intention on the floor during debate last year on 476.  With that, I would ask for your support in amending this to the bill.  Thank you.


SPEAKER KRISTENSEN:  Senator Beutler.  He waives off.  Seeing no lights, Senator Peterson, you're recognized to close.  She waives closing.  The question before the body is the adoption of the Senator Chris Peterson amendment to LB 1229.  All those in favor vote aye, all those opposed vote nay.  Have you all voted?  Please record.


CLERK:  25 ayes, 0 nays, Mr. President, on the adoption of Senator Peterson's amendment.


SPEAKER KRISTENSEN:  The amendment is adopted.


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


SPEAKER KRISTENSEN:  We're now debating the advancement of LB 1229.  Senator Cudaback.


SENATOR CUDABACK:  I'd like to ask Senator Bohlke a question, please, Mr. Speaker.


SPEAKER KRISTENSEN:  Senator Bohlke, would you respond?






SENATOR CUDABACK:  Senator Bohlke, on the bill, you know, there are many of us that represent large schools and small schools alike...


SENATOR BOHLKE:  Yes, we do.


SENATOR CUDABACK:  ...  and the question always comes up, are they treated, you know, equal?  That's hard to do I realize, but we have to answer those questions.  If a smaller school, do you envision if this program is adopted, will a smaller system of 120, 130, whatever, would they have to hire another teacher in order to qualify for the funds or could they work it within the present system?


SENATOR BOHLKE:  Oh, no, Senator Cudaback.  First of all, they'd get the $6,000 as a base start.  That could be for any ...  they could use that a number of different ways.  They don't have to hire a teacher.  Then what they would get they could all go together and hire a gifted coordinator.  That's what we heard from the area in Benkelman which they hope to do is to go together with other districts and begin to have a part-time coordinator that would travel the district.  So there's about as much flexibility in here, and I think it offers some of our small schools the opportunity as you had heard me on LB 1228 talk about the superintendent from Thedford who said they have wanted to offer a program and get started.  With 1228 and 1229, he said they are going to be able to do that in their part of their state.  You don't get ...  you get smaller than Thedford, but that's certainly ...  Thedford and Benkelman represent the attitude that I've heard from the smaller schools.


SENATOR CUDABACK:  I thought that's what I heard you say earlier, but I heard rumblings throughout the floor here that perhaps some of the smaller systems wouldn't be able to even qualify for the dollars because they couldn't, they didn't have the personnel to, you know, qualify with, you might Bay.  That shouldn't have any bearing on...


SENATOR BOHLKE:  No, that wouldn't.  You know, they have to...  they get the $6,000 so even if they use $6,000 to have a teacher dedicate part of their time almost like an extra




standard payment to put that program in place, they would be able to use that.  So, you know, that just would not prevent them from participating.


SENATOR CUDABACK:  Okay, my last question, the $6,000, who's going to verify or will there be an checkups or whatever to make certain that they use that $6,000 for such purpose se or will there be any follow-up or...  ?


SENATOR BOHLKE:  Well, with...  like all money that the state Department of Education sends out, if it's sent out for a dedicated purpose and a school district does not follow, they are audited and are supposed to be audited by the auditor, they could.  be in violation and they could have the potential of losing their state funding.


SENATOR CUDABACK:  So they'll have to show where they potentially put this towards the goal of this, whatever this bill ...




SENATOR CUDABACK:  ...  spells out.


SENATOR BOHLKE:  And if we eventually have the accounting package that we talked of in LB 1228, that also would be the statewide accounting system that would trace those dollars and how they are spent.


SENATOR CUDABACK:  But for the record, these smaller schools can go together, correct?


SENATOR BOHLKE:  Absolutely.


SENATOR CUDABACK:  Okay, thank you.




SENATOR WESELY:  Thank you.  Mr. Speaker, members of the Legislature, I rise in support of LB 1229 and commend Senator Bohlke and Senator Peterson and others who worked on the legislation.  I have three children in our public schools and




they're all part of the differentiated program here in Lincoln.  It's been outstanding.  I know what a positive impact it's been on my own children.  I know that it is a positive impact on other children, and the ability for our better student s to have these differentiated programs to excel, to be challenged, to be with other students who are very serious about the pursuit of an education I think enhances the educational opportunities and the potential that they have is unleased as a result.  So I very much support LB 1229 and am very glad that the support, for the bill was there in the committee and hopefully will be there on the floor.  I rise in support of the advancement of LB 1229.  Thank you.




SENATOR BEUTLER:  Senator Kristensen, members of the Legislature, I think as time passes and the years pass you may look back and see this bill as one of the most significant that came across during your time in the Legislature, not in the sense that the dollar amount is so huge at this point in time, but simply in the sense that this represents another big step forward in terms of getting to quality education, true quality education.  I think if we could all be very idealistic for a moment, probably what we all would say is that we would like to have a school system for every child, be his or her abilities low or very ...  very low or very high, every child can learn in our school system as much as he or she has the capacity to learn.  And as we've come down through time in history, we do better and better at that.  And in the late 1970s and early 1980s, we essentially through a Supreme Court decision, not through our decision but through a Supreme Court decision, said with respect to one end of the spectrum that with regard to special education and those that we categorize in that category, they are going to receive the kind of education they need based upon the individual need of the student.  And we know that for the students in the middle of the spectrum, hopefully our system is giving them all the education that they can absorb although I think we can do better there.  But finally, working at the top end of the spectrum, the students who have the greatest capacity finally, finally we are starting to look at them as individuals and give them the kind of individual education that they can truly absorb.  From an equity point of view, of course, it's




important that I think all students have as much education as they can absorb.  But from a societal perspective that is the economic leadership of the world and America's position in the world, and what we need to do to keep the economic engine fired and ahead of all of those in the rest of the world, what we need to do most is to educate the students who are the gifted students because those are the ones in terms of the margin, margin (inaudible) utility of education from a pure societal point of view, those are the ones that are going to do the most good for us all and the benefits from that will spread through society for many, many years to come.  So I hope that this will be Been not just as education, quality education for gifted students but as simply another step to getting to that place where I think we all want to be in the future and that is where every child, every child gets as much education as that child can absorb.  I think that's not too idealistic for the future.  And certainly as we step into the 21st Century, it's not too idealistic to take this very nice step forward towards that ideal.  Thank you.




SENATOR JENSEN:  Thank you, Mr. Sneaker, members of the Legislature.  I do rise in support of this bill.  There's been an emphasis here in the state in the last few years about a brain drain that is happening in our state in higher education.  Certainly I think we need to do whatever we can to promote and to prohibit a brain drain happening also in our younger years.  And we have children that are challenged by the system in that they're not able to exceed, that they're not able to extend themselves; and I'm hopeful that this is an opportunity for that to happen.  Also, I hope that our universities and colleges will also permit and encourage at least some opportunities for those who want to study the gifted educational programs, that there will be programs there for them to study and to have that opportunity also.  I think this is a step in the right direction, that the dollars that are spent at this point in time in these young people's lives will reap later on tremendous benefit to our entire society.  Therefore, I would urge the body to advance LB 1229 to Select File.  Thank you, Mr. Speaker.


SPEAKER KRISTENSEN:  Senator Robinson.




SENATOR ROBINSON:  Mr. Speaker, members of the body, I want to applaud the Education Committee and Senator Bohlke for bringing this bill and also the bill that was brought up here a few days ago.  I think for the first time in the eight years I've been here we've gone above and beyond what we usually talk about in education.  Some of the things that Senator Beutler mentioned, Senator Jensen and others and Senator Peterson, I think you should be commended for that and I certainly stand and support the advancement to E & R Initial for 1229.  Thank you.


SPEAKER KRISTENSEN:  Any further debate?  Senator Bohlke, you are recognized to close on the advancement of LB 1229.


SENATOR BOHLKE:  Thank you, Mr. Speaker.  Actually, Senator Robinson took my close which I was going to say is that as I said on 1228, this is an opportunity to talk about quality and finding a way to fund quality programs for schools across the state of Nebraska and then obviously for the children in the state so that they have an opportunity for a curriculum that meets their needs.  With that, I ask for your support on the advancement of LB 1229.


SPEAKER KRISTENSEN:  You've heard the closing.  The question before the body is the advancement of LE 1229 to E & R Initial.  All those in favor vote aye, all those opposed vote nay.  Have you all voted who care to?  Please record.


CLERK:  28 ayes, 0 nays, Mr. President, on the advancement of 1229.


SPEAKER KRISTENSEN:  LB 1229 is advanced.  The Speaker will take this opportunity to add LB 1229A to trail this bill.  it has been reported.  Senator Bohlke, would you please introduce, well, Mr. Clerk, would you please introduce and announce 1229A and then, Senator Bohlke, we'll move to you, to open.