LB 1229 (1998) - Funding for Accelerated or Differentiated Curriculum Programs


Via the -passage of LB 1229, school districts will be required to provide accelerated or differentiated curriculum programs for students in their districts who are identified as high-ability learners or "gifted." Prior law required districts to identify high-ability learners but only required districts to provide programs or services contingent upon available local, state, or federal funding.  In order to carry out the mandate prescribed in LB 1229, it is the intent of the Legislature to appropriate funds to be distributed to local school systems annually on or before September 1 to implement the curriculum programs.


LB 1229 provides that it is the intent of the Legislature to appropriate $6 million in FY1998-99 for distribution to school systems.  Thereafter, the Legislature intends annually to appropriate $6 million increased by the percentage growth in identified high ability learners plus the basic allowable growth rate of three percent.  Through FY2000-01, five percent of the annual appropriation will be reserved for grants for startup costs, as defined by the State Board of Education.  Startup funds will be distributed to school systems based on each system's pro rata share of the eligible costs submitted in the grant applications.


Local school systems can also apply to the State Department of Education for base funds and matching funds.  Each eligible system can receive.  1 percent of the appropriation (or $6,000 in FY1998-99) as base funds and a share of the remaining appropriation, based on identified students participating in accelerated or differentiated curriculum programs, as matching funds.  For purposes of matching funds, the number of identified students cannot exceed 10 percent of the prior year's fall membership.


To be eligible for base or matching funds, each local system must;


   Operate an approved accelerated or differentiated curriculum program;


   Provide funds from other sources equal to or greater than 50 percent of the matching funds;


   Provide an accounting of the base funds, matching funds, and local system funds, as well as the total cost of the program on or before August 1 of the year following receipt of the funds;


   Provide data on the academic progress of participating students in a manner prescribed by the State Department of Education, not to exceed one report per year; and


   Include identified students from Class I districts that are part of the local system in the programs.


Systems not complying with the requirements will not be eligible for funds the following year.


In addition to requiring accelerated -or differentiated curriculum programs, the provisions of LB 50 and LB 1031 were added to LB, 1229 via amendment.


LB 50 allows for the early entrance of certain children into kindergarten.  In 1993, the Legislature enacted LB 348, which eliminated statutory language giving parents the option to have their fouryear-old tested for entrance into kindergarten.  LB 50 authorizes a local school board to approve a recognized assessment procedure that would demonstrate a child's ability to begin kindergarten.


LB 1031 redefines the term "eligible postsecondary educational institution." By redefining the term, the bill expands the number of postsecondary educational institutions eligible to participate in the Postsecondary Education Award Program to include those institutions accredited by a recognized national or regional organization.  (Prior law required accreditation by a regional organization only, thus eliminating Grand Island College in Grand Island, Bryan School of Nursing in Lincoln, and Nebraska Christian College in Norfolk from participation in the program.)


LB 1229 passed with the emergency clause 36-9 and was approved by the Governor on April 8, 1998.