Committee on Education

January 25, 1999


Page 75


SENATOR COORDSEN:  Seeing none, thank you, Senator.  That closes the hearing on LB 195.  And I'll turn the chair over to our Vice Chair, Senator Suttle.


LB 272


SENATOR SUTTLE:  Okay, we'll now open the hearing on LB 272.  If we could find Senator Bohlke to introduce it, no, it's not Senator Bohlke ...  yeah, Senator Bohlke.


SENATOR RAIKES:  No, Senator Stuhr.


SENATOR SUTTLE:  Senator Stuhr, sorry.  I'll get my act together here in a second.  How could I forget this monumental huge piece of ...






SENATOR STUHR:  Okay.  Thank you, Senator Suttle and fellow members of the Education Committee for my...for the record, my name is Elaine Stuhr, representing the 24th Legislative District.  I'd just like to begin by giving you some background on LB 272.  During the 1997 Legislative Session, the legislator ...  Legislature voted to eliminate the elected office of County Superintendent of Schools.  And that can be found in number 23-3312, and it states, "The elected office of County Superintendent of Schools shall be eliminated by June 30, 2000.  The State Department of Education shall make recommendations on which of the duties assigned to County Superintendents should be eliminated, which of such duties should be retained, and to whom the retained duties should be assigned.  And the department should report those recommendations not later than December 1, 1997.11 So in July of 1997, a committee was appointed by the Commissioner of Education to research and develop recommendations regarding the duties of County Superintendents.  And this committee met for three full days.  Committee discussions included the topics of the duties listed in the current statutes, recommendations from the Nebraska Association of County Superintendents, the needs of Nebraska schools,


Committee on Education

January 25, 1999

Page 76


options for fulfilling duties and providing services, and previous studies of the County Superintendencies, current demographic data regarding the County Superintendent's office, and then also some surveys.  The committee considered of very recommendations in developing their report, in recognizing the diverse needs and the demographics of Nebraska.  This bill continues to serve the needs of Nebraska students, schools, and communities.  It does streamline the duties and services when possible and appropriate, and provides options as needed for local responsibility and decisionmaking, and providing for the education of Nebraska students.  This bill was introduced last session as LB 1217.  It was placed on General File, and again was one of those that was backlogged.  LB 272 continues the elimination of the mandatory office of County Superintendent of Public Instruction.  Their duties are transferred to other local officials such as, the County Clerk, County Treasurers, or a school administrator.  The limitations on funding for the office are removed.  The County Reorganization Committee is eliminated and the duties are transferred to the State Reorganization Committee.  Although, LB 272 eliminates the mandatory office of County Superintendent, it does provide an optional office of County School Administrator for Class I school districts.  Section twelve of this bill provides that on or after June 30, 2000 the County Board of any county may contract with an individual who holds a Nebraska Administrative and Supervisory Certificate to be a County Administrator for Class I school districts in the county and to perform other designated educational activities.  The statutory duties of the County Superintendent generally relate to census date, reorganization of school districts, and records management.  Those duties to be discontinued consist mainly of duties that are already performed by other agencies, or officials, or are obsolete.  Some of the recommendations by the committee, and these are actually found in the new bill.  The statutes related to the collection of census data can be found in sections (71) to (73) of this bill.  Statutes providing for reorganization of school districts are found primarily in sections (28) through (69) of this bill.  And this bill proposes that the County Reorganization Committees and County Superintendent duties be discontinued and their duties be transferred to the State Reorganization Committee and the County Clerks.  This committee recommendation was based on a number of issues.  Some areas in Nebraska that


Committee on Education

January 25, 1999

Page 77


have already reorganized to the extent that little reorganization efforts will occur in the future.  The current process of a County Reorganization Committee has actually lengthened the reorganization process requires the appointment of a joint committee.  And one body responsible for overseeing reorganizations would provide a greater efficiency and consistency.  And that ...  what is done...  that is, actually what's being done then by the State Reorganization Committee as proposed.  Section fourteen of the bill relates to records maintenance, and it provides that the records of the County Superintendent shall be transferred to and maintained by the County Clerk in each county.  Times change, and I think that we all realize that the need for County Superintendents is different today than it was in 1857.  This bill addresses cooperation and greater efficiencies on the county level.  And this bill also does provide some property tax relief.  With the passage of LB 272, it will be possible to have a decrease in county expenditures of about 1.67 million beginning in the year 2000, based on 196-197 estimated expenditures.  Since this is quite a large bill, after working with the committee counsel, there were some amendments that needed to be corrected because of some drafting ...  bill drafting errors.  Are there any Pages that might hand those out?  And I thought we might just briefly address those amendments.  if you would turn to page 25 (Exhibit L), you have a copy of the bill, and line 21 strike "in Class I district" and if, how is it?  The way the bill is currently drafted, only teachers in Class I districts would be required to provide enrollment lists to the school administrator.  And if we strike that, this amendment does keep in place this requirement for all teachers.  And amendment two corrects a bill drafting error.  And that is found on page 26, 1 believe.  And we are striking Classes III, IV, and V, which then an attendance officer ...  that would provide that they were in all districts.  The third one would be on page 39, line 14.  Strike "superintendent" and insert "clerk".  The fourth amendment would be found on page 106, line 13.  Reinstate the stricken subsection, and after the reinstated subsection insert "(1) of this section." Without this reference, it's unclear that Class I's must submit their records to high school districts.  Then on the very last page of the bill, there was an error.  And we would need to strike ??200", and reinsert the year "2000".  And, I believe,


Committee on Education

January 25, 1999

Page 78


that concludes my opening remarks.


SENATOR SUTTLE:  Thank you.  Are there any questions?  Senator Raikes.


SENATOR RAIKES:  Senator Stuhr.




SENATOR RAIKES:  A quick question or two on the fiscal note.  I take it you've got two estimates of this.  On the front page you've got the legislative fiscal analyst.  It says $24,600 in the first year, and $26,800 in the second.  And then on the back, we've got the Nebraska Department of Education that has a different number, is that right?  Sixty-four thousand eight hundred?  You don't have that.


SENATOR STUHR:  Okay, I have one now.  Excuse me.  I'm sorry.  (TAPE MALFUNCTION--SOME TESTIMONY IS LOST.)


SENATOR RAIKES:  Well, it's not a big ...  you know, I guess, in worst case why the fiscal estimate would be the sum of the three numbers 24, 28, or 26 in 64.


SENATOR STUHR:  Twenty-six, right.


SENATOR RAIKES:  But, I guess that another point that jumps to mind, apparently we're going to be able to replace $1,673,000 worth of services with something around 50 or 60 thousand dollars?


SENATOR STUHR:  Yes, yes according to the fiscal note, yes.  Because many of these duties with this bill will be eliminated, and some of those responsibilities have actually been carried out and will be carried out by clerks and treasurers, local ...  on the local level, and then also transferred the county school reorganization, as I indicated, would be transferred to a state reorganization committee.  And so that's where ...  why you are seeing, on the reverse side, some of these 34,000 and related to an additional staff person at the Department of Education.


SENATOR RAIKES:  So this 65,000 here on the back side should


Committee on Education

January 25, 1999

Page 79


be added to the two numbers on the front side probably?


SENATOR STUHR:  I believe that Mr. Halstead, isn't he here?  He may be able to address that just a little...


SENATOR RAIKES:  Okay, okay, all right, yeah.


SENATOR STUHR:  ...more specifically.  okay?


SENATOR RAIKES:  Okay, thank you.


SENATOR SUTTLE:  Any other questions?  Senator Price?




SENATOR PRICE:  Some of the faxes I've received have spoken about, of course they were in support maintaining this position, but they were talking about accurate recordkeeping and so forth.  And they were wondering with the removal of this position ...  of course, it would be up to each district to make sure that each record is kept accurate.




SENATOR PRICE:  Because this information is vital in many ways,,.




SENATOR PRICE:  ...  not just in the length of the time they're in school, but as they go out into school.  And so, and of course, the other duties that individual county superintendents handled in Class I schools.  And so that, this is where they were concerned about the accuracy of record-keeping and making sure that somebody ...  or persons responsible would take over these duties, fulfill them...


SENATOR STUHR:  And I think...


SENATOR PRICE:  ...  so we're not addressing the reinstatement of this...




Committee on Education

January 25, 1999

Page 80


SENATOR PRICE:  ...  in a couple years.


SENATOR STUHR:  And I think that's a very sincere question because it is an important thing on who will keep the records.  many of these, the district superintendents have already assumed some of those responsibilities transmit them directly to the Nebraska Department of Education.  And so, I really do not feel that there will be a lack or a breakdown of that information being recorded.  And I believe there will be some people who will address that concern.


SENATOR PRICE:  Thank you.




SENATOR SUTTLE:  Senator Wickersham.


SENATOR WICKERSHAM:  Well, Senator Stuhr, I know that you stated in the, in your opening, that the county reorganization committees were being dissolved or removed by this legislation.  I think you stated that the rationale was that they delayed the process.  Is that the rationale for removing the county reorganization committees?


SENATOR STUHR:  That is certainly not the only reason.  But many times when districts do combine, sometimes they are ...  there are more than one county involved in that reorganization, so then another committee, a joint committee, more than just the county reorganization committee has to be involved because, I believe it states there is a county reorganization committee.  So if there were more than one county involved then, and maybe Brian can speak to that also, Mr. Halstead, that...


SENATOR WICKERSHAM:  Well, I guess, my real concern is that in a bill where we're addressing county superintendents and a decision that was made a couple years ago, all of a sudden we're doing away with school reorganization for committees for reasons that aren't quite clear to me, because I'm not ...  this is not an aspersion on state administrators or a state committee.  But I think, quite frankly, I'd need to...I'd need to hear a more compelling reason and some protections at the state level assuring us that the state committee will be properly sensitive to what local conditions are.  And I, we've labored hard in the


Committee on Education

January 25, 1999

Page 81


reorganization sections within the last year, two years.  If I remember right, Senator Janssen befuddled us so badly that we passed the bill for him.


SENATOR SUTTLE:  (laughter)


SENATOR WICKERSHAM:  But I thought that made the county and state committee structure workable?  Well ...






SENATOR STUHR:  Hopefully there may be someone that could address that.  I don't believe the responsibility is as pertinent as it used to be on those county reorganization committees ...




SENATOR STUHR:  ...  which the superintendent called and such.


SENATOR WICKERSHAM:  Well, I keep hearing that...




SENATOR WICKERSHAM:  We're expecting more reorganizations.  Didn't 40 districts dissolve last year?  I keep hearing from people that we put in place policies that will accelerate school reorganization.  So instead of becoming less important, this issue may become more important.  Well, the bill still allows for a contracted county school administrator.




SENATOR WICKERSHAM:  And I have two general questions with regard to that.  What could a county, a contracted, county school administrator do?  What would be left in the statutes that that person would be authorized to do on behalf of schools or behalf of the county?  or is any specific authorization necessary?


SENATOR STUHR:  It, as you can see, we address that on page 13.  The ...  we left it primarily that they could contract


Committee on Education

January 25, 1999

Page 82


with an individual and those ...  and deal mostly with Class I school districts.  Because as the group was meeting with the Department of Education, those were the only areas that...where there were Class I school districts, that there might be a need, or a desire to have a person in that particular area.


SENATOR WICKERSHAM:  But what would they do?


SENATOR STUHR:  That would be up to the county board to then, and they may come up with something that they might want to do, but it might be just be to coordinate some...  I mean, that is a good question that would be left for the county supervisors or county board to decide...


SENATOR WICKERSHAM:  Well ...  yeah...


SENATOR STUHR:  ...  if there was a need for that person.


SENATOR WICKERSHAM:  Yeah, yeah ...  well, maybe the real gist of my question is one that I should take with Mr. Halstead or someone else because you can't do anything that you aren't authorized to do.


SENATOR STUHR:  Right, right.


SENATOR WICKERSHAM:  In general.  Sometimes they do, but that isn't the way it's supposed to work out.


SENATOR STUHR:  The reason we left that as may, is because there was, because of the diversity of the state that there could be a need for...


SENATOR WICKERSHAM:  Yeah, and another...


SENATOR STUHR:  ...  a person in that area.


SENATOR WICKERSHAM:  ...  choice that was made in the bill, and it actually strikes a bunch of language that was adopted two years ago.  why was the choice made that the county could only contract with an individual?  What couldn't they contract with an ESU, with a school district, with any organization that could deliver whatever services they wish to provide for the school.  Why does it have to been an individual?


Committee on Education

January 25, 1999

Page 83


SENATOR STUHR:  It probably doesn't necessarily have to be an individual.  If you feel very strongly that that needs to be amended, but if it did contract with an ESU, it would still be an individual, I mean, within the ESU, that they would be contracting with.


SENATOR WICKERSHAM:  Well, an individual might carry out the duties, but the contract would be with the organization.  But we can...  I was just wondering if there were...


SENATOR STUHR:  With the organization...  I have no problem if, if ...


SENATOR WICKERSHAM:  I was just wondering if there was a specific rationale for saying that you had to contract with an individual, as opposed to an organization?


SENATOR STUHR:  I believe that when, if you look on page 13, we wanted to make sure that that individual holds a Nebraska Administrative and Supervisory Certificate.


SENATOR WICKERSHAM:  Yeah, well, yeah ...  well, any individual ...


SENATOR STUHR:  So, maybe Mr. Halstead can address that?


SENATOR WICKERSHAM:  Okay, yeah, okay...


SENATOR STUHR:  And I have no problem with...




SENATOR STUHR:  ...  expanding that.


SENATOR WICKERSHAM:  Okay, and then I think there are a number of other technical issues with the bill, so I don't know who's primarily responsible for drafting, but I can take that up with them if I can find out who that is.  Okay?




SENATOR SUTTLE:  Senator Bohlke, would you like to take over?


Committee on Education

January 25, 1999

Page 84




SENATOR BOHLKE:  Was that the ...  was this on your close?


SENATOR SUTTLE:  No, this was opening.


SENATOR STUHR:  No! (laughter)


SENATOR BOHLKE:  Oh, rats! Oh well, hope springs eternal.  (laughter) Those wishing to testify in support.


BRIAN HALSTEAD:  Good afternoon, Senator Bohlke and members of the Education Committee.  For the record, my name is Brian Halstead.  I'm with the Nebraska Department of Education.  I'm here in support of LB 272.  As Senator Stuhr outlined, the department was given the duty to conduct a study on the duties of the county superintendent, and we did submit a report back to this committee in December of 1997.  The bill you have before you is a product of that study.  I think, in response to several of the questions, Senator Raikes, I don't know what the Legislative Fiscal Office has done with respect to the fiscal note.  I do know that the fiscal note the department submitted indicated, I believe, about a $64,000 fiscal impact.  I think that's it.  I don't know what Legislative Fiscal Office...I don't think you add anymore money to that.  And the Legislative Fiscal office may have actually indicated it could be done for less.  The primary purpose of the fiscal note was that we felt there would be a need for an additional person at the state level should the State Reorganization Committee take over many of the duties under the reorganization act.  When we did the study, that was one of the areas that was of concern.  When the Legislature gave us the duty to study the duties of the county superintendent, we weren't authorized to change the reorganization laws and we knew that very clearly.  But in the meetings and in the discussion, there was a consensus that if it could be streamlined, that it would make it easier and more efficient and be more consistent across the state if there was one body overseeing it instead of multiple bodies.  As Senator Stuhr mentioned, in a number of counties in the state of Nebraska, reorganization is completed.  Banner County has one school district in the entire county.  There is no longer a need for a county


Committee on Education

January 25, 1999

Page 85


reorganization committee in Banner County.  If any reorganization occurs with that, it's going to be a joint committee with another county.  There was some feelings that the county committees were slowing down the process.  I don't know whether that's valid or not, but that was a point that was raised in the discussion of the study group and that was considered.  If you look at the study report, one of the things included in there was the recommendation that maybe the Legislature wanted to look at the reorganization statutes to see if, in fact, this was the proper method or there was a better way of doing that.  We were clearly recognizing the principle that reorganization needs to occur at the local level, not at the state level.  And if you will notice in the language in the bill, we stuck language that gave the state reorganization committee the authority to propose reorganizations.  We took that out because we didn't feel that that was the appropriate place for the state to be involved.  And I think if you look at the number of the changes made in the reorganization statutes, it's still going to come to the state committee from the local level, whether it be a school district proposing it, patrons proposing it, or the county clerk notifying the state reorganization committee that there is land that needs to be moved or attached because of depopulation or whatever.  So, we were attempting, as best we could, to be sensitive to the issue.  But we recognize, and I think the study clearly pointed out, that reorganization needs to start first at the local level.  And I think the manner in which we tried to address the statutes on reorganization leave that authority there.  It will either be a petition signed by the residents of the district.  It will be a petition or a plan submitted by the school boards involved before any action can take place at the state level.  With respect to, I think, Senator Wickersham's questions, the language about eliminating the ESU's and the school districts from being the ones to contract with, in the study there was some discussion that some of the individuals who are at an ESU or at a school district may not necessarily be the appropriate people to help out the Class I's because there may be friction between the two.  There was some discussion that, in fact, that that was a problem in some areas of the state.  Again, I don't know whether that's true or not, but there was some expression that if I'm forced to contract with an ESU, they may not be representative of the needs of the Class I's.  When we looked at it we thought, well, any person who's


Committee on Education

January 25, 1999

Page 86


going to be the contracted person needs to hold an administrative certificate.  If you contract with the ESU, it's going to be an administrator from the ESU who's going to carry out those duties on behalf of the county superintendent, now the county school administrator.  So, we left the language as general as possible, so that it was possible for any person to hold an administrative certificate, whether that's the superintendent of a Class II, III, IV, V, or VI district, whether that's an administrator for an ESU or whatever.  In addition, the language was left broad because there was the consensus of the study group that each individual area of the state has different unique needs for what a school administrator might need in Northwestern Nebraska than one might need in Otoe County in Eastern Nebraska, and the determination is best made at the county level as to what the particular duties are of that school administrator.  We did specifically put language in there to assist, or to help out, the Class I school districts and to carry on county educational activities.  one of the things not found in the statute, but ,that is still conducted is the county spelling bee.  Well, there's no statutory duty there now, but that is one that is currently conducted by the county superintendent of schools.  And it's a valuable activity in many of the counties of the state and should continue if those people want to continue it.  That may be one of the duties that the county board may contract with the county school administrator for.  Again, the study group tried to look at all of the issues.  When we completed the entire study, the consensus was that all of the current duties in statute could either be eliminated or they could be assigned to other individuals.  A number of the changes that are made in this bill eliminate the county superintendent.  The statutes sort of read that the commissioner shall tell the county superintendent to go tell the county treasurer to do something.  Well, current practice is, we send the letter to the county treasurer and the county superintendent now on the withholding of money or the, how to appropriate the money that's given to them.  So we're cutting out sort of the middle person in that whole scenario.  So, I would be more than happy to try to respond to any questions that any of the senators might have.


SENATOR BOHLKE:  Questions?  Senator Wickersham.


SENATOR WICKERSHAM:  Well, the point about having to


Committee on Education

January 25, 1999

Page 87


contract with an individual is this one.  I don't have any quarrel with saying whomever discharges the contract has to be a qualified individual, but I'm the superintendent of schools for a Class VI.  That's my primary responsibility.  My board tells me that my contract is an exclusive contract.  I'm not to do any consulting.  I'm not to do any moonlighting.  I am to pay attention to the Class VI school's business.  The Class I's come to me and say, look at, we have an opportunity.  The statutes allow the county to contract.  We want you to provide the services of a county school administrator.  The superintendent says, nope, can't do that.  My board says I have an exclusive contract.  The Class I says, well, can't I contract with your school?  I know that I'm going to get you, but can't I contract with your school?  I will pay your school $10,000 a year.  They can direct you to devote ten percent of your tire.  That would make a pretty high salary wouldn't it?  And deliver the services that we want.  The bill, as drafted, would prohibit that arrangement.  Now, in some places where you have a dearth of administrators, which may not be in many places in the state, you'll find that arrangement is going to be a desirable one.  You will want to use an administrator as much as you can.  And everybody is going to want to say exclusively what that administrator can do because somebody thinks they have them under contract.  That's the only point.




SENATOR WICKERSHAM:  So, if you're always required to contract with the individual, you're going to find yourself running far afield trying to find an unattached, uncontrolled, administrator.  And if you want to go far afield and find an unattached, uncontrolled administrator, you still could.  But if you have one right at home, why shouldn't you be able to use them?


BRIAN HALSTEAD:  And that certainly makes some sense, Senator.




BRIAN HALSTEAD:  I think one of the other thing is, currently there are some of the elected county superintendents whose term is going to expire on June 30 of


Committee on Education

January 25, 1999

Page 88


the year 2000.




BRIAN HALSTEAD:  With that language that's currently in statute, they couldn't be contracted as the school administrator because they don't work for an ESU or a school district.  So they're out unless they can get the school district to employ them.


SENATOR WICKERSHAM:  Well, but you ought to be allowed to contract as an individual or still ought to be able to contract with an organization.




SENATOR WICKERSHAM:  If you have an organization that employs a qualified individual, then the organization can say we're going to deliver these services.  Here's our qualified individual.  Here's the contract.  And you literally share whatever the skills and capabilities of that person.


BRIAN HALSTEAD:  Sure.  And I ...


SENATOR WICKERSHAM:  That's the real point.






BRIAN HALSTEAD:  And I think that's workable.  And I think Senator Stuhr...




BRIAN HALSTEAD:  And we are having no disagreement with that.


SENATOR WICKERSHAM:  Now, okay, now, can somebody ...  I remember the horrifying schematics of the reorganization process before Senator Janssen's bill, the still somewhat daunting schematics after Senator Janssen's bill.  Now, can you give us a schematic of how reorganization would work if this bill passes?  Now you mentioned voluntary


Committee on Education

January 25, 1999

Page 89


reorganizations, I think, in your presentation.  But aren't there involuntary reorganizations?


BRIAN HALSTEAD:  Well, there ...  if you mean by involuntary reorganizations the statutory requirements depopulated schools.  Land isn't included in a school district.  In those cases, though, those would only get to the state reorganization committee because the county clerk, in the case of lands not attached, would notify the state reorganization committee.  And the current statutes about notifying and everything are still in place.  They'll just be done from the state reorganization committee to those school districts of those affected people.




BRIAN HALSTEAD:  With respect to the depopulated, again that's probably a process that's still going to have to exist at the local level in some way, or shape, or form.  But I can understand what you're mentioning, but that...


SENATOR WICKERSHAM:  Okay, is that one taken care of here?


BRIAN HALSTEAD:  Well, the cop...  I believe it is, Senator.  I think the concept is, currently, you have, I think as I looked at it, you have numerous reorganization statutes on the book.  Some of them go back as far as 1887 ...




BRIAN HALSTEAD:  ...  and have remained somewhat the same, and there wasn't much done to those statutes until shortly, I believe, after world War I there is some changes.  But it was after World War II when the Reorganization Act came into place, which created both the state reorganization committee and the county reorganization committee.  Since that time, there have been numerous statutes added to deal with some specific situations, the most recent dealing with affiliation and all of that.  I'm going to admit to you, Senator, I can read those statutes and I'm still befuddled as to how the whole process works.  And I think that was true of the study group who looked at this.  No one is clearly sure what the steps are in place for every one of those.  I would submit to you, probably the only ones who really know what those all are the school district


Committee on Education

January 25, 1999

Page 90


attorneys who practice in this area all the time.  And, like I said, we're certainly ...  would defer to the Legislature if you have a better and more efficient and cleaner way of doing it.  I think everybody out there would enjoy that.  Our attempt was to try to make the changes to the statutes without defeating the purposes that were behind the statutes; to try to clarify some of that; to streamline it in some manner, shape, or form so that you didn't know what your timeline was for getting a name on a petition, getting it off a petition, whether that's before the county committee, after the county committee, when it's held by the superintendent, when it's at the state reorganization committee, and all of that.  So, I mean, I'm going to admit to you, Senator, I think we attempted as best we could with the language was there to keep both the intent of one, the people out there are going to be notified and there's going to be hearing held on it before any action is taken; and number two, to make sure that it starts somehow at the local level first.  It isn't the state taking over this, because that was a real concern.  And that's something that I don't think the State Department of Education, or the state reorganization wants to be involved in at that level.  I think that's something that clearly, a policy of this state, it needs to occur at the local level.  So, I'm hopeful that the language, as it's drafted, accomplishes that.  But, I am certainly going to defer to you and the other members of the Legislature.  If you have a better way of doing that, I would suggest go forward with that and we'll certainly work with you on that, Senator.


SENATOR WICKERSHAM:  well, my initial reaction was why it was necessary in the context of the bill, because you could have substituted someone to carry out the functions of the county superintendent and kept the existing structure.


BRIAN HALSTEAD:  Right, right.




BRIAN HALSTEAD:  And I would suggest, Senator, if the committee and the Legislature wants to keep the county reorganization committee that the probably the logical person would be the county clerk.  As you look at the bill now, everything is filed with the county clerk and the state reorganization committee.  The idea again being, there needs


Committee on Education

January 25, 1999

Page 91


to be somebody at the local level who has this information and has that available, because that was, again, an issue that was out there.


SENATOR WICKERSHAM:  um-hum.  When you ...  when you're committee worked through these issues, was there any concern about the amount of reports, and the ...  what in some cases, looks almost looks like a duplication of reports?


BRIAN HALSTEAD:  That was one of the concerns that's in there, and I think, Senator, as you know, the department has been working on trying to cut down the number of reports and trying to consolidate that.


SENATOR WICKERSHAM:  Okay, well, you didn't want to take on that issue in this?


BRIAN HALSTEAD:  We, again, we felt that was probably beyond the duties of that committee.  But at the same time, when we looked at this, we certainly tried to eliminate the duplication of the report as it goes to the "county sup" and then it goes to the department.  If it's the school district from district to department, instead of district, to superintendent, department.  And then the department has to respond back to the district to verify the information in that.  We were trying to eliminate that.  Again, we're still working on trying to eliminate some of the reports that we have at the department that aren't statutory.  And I think we're all looking to try and consolidate that to be done.  I think you're going to have another bill here later that's trying to eliminate some of the duplicative reports under special ed that we don't think are needed anymore.  So we're always conscious of that, trying to work at it.  If the committee feels that there are reports that can be eliminated, we're certainly willing to work with the committee and the Legislature on that.


SENATOR WICKERSHAM:  Okay, well, and then sometime there are a number of things that I would characterize as being rather technical.  I think you assigned some duties to the clerk or to the treasurer that, my assessment is that, they would be more properly held by the assessor because, and it has to do with the property that's taxable, the maps that are drawn, the certification of the levies, et cetera.  Those things happen in different places.


Committee on Education

January 25, 1999

Page 92




SENATOR BOHLKE:  Any ...  excuse me, any other questions?  I see none.


BRIAN HALSTEAD:  And, I guess, just in closing, Senator Bohlke, if I may, one of the things that we are currently in the process of dealing with is Bob Beecham in our, I guess it's, office of data.  I'm not sure what the title is these days.  One of the issues with this is the records of the county superintendent.  And as the bill specifically provides, those, if this is enacted, will be transferred to the county clerk.  We, currently, have underway a study group to look at those records.  We are waiting, I think, from responses from the county officials from the treasurers, assessors who would like to participate in that, because that is an interesting issue.  We currently have, I think, Mrs.  Sullivan from the retirement committee is interested in that, and that's a concern to us.  The State Historical Society, the Records Management Division, all of those individuals, because, if the bill is enacted, the current reporting thing will end on June 30th of 2000, so those will be historical records from that point on, which of those records to retain and everything.  So, we're hoping to get that moving and completed yet this spring so that that issue can be addressed, and if there's any need for a legislation or anything, we can have that addressed.


SENATOR WICKERSHAM:  And I hope this doesn't cost me a quarter, but it is odd sometimes, the uses of those records.  I've helped people obtain a birth certificate...




SENATOR WICKERSHAM:  ...  based on school records.


BRIAN HALSTEAD:  And I suspect if any of the county superintendents, they're going to tell you about how some of those records are still used today that were created in 1930.


SENATOR WICKERSHAM:  And, yeah, well ...  and least any of you think that the person that I helped, or persons that I helped obtain a birth certificate for were in their


Committee on Education

January 25, 1999

Page 93


eighties, they were not.




SENATOR WICKERSHAM:  They were born at home.  And they were born at home within the last 20 years.




SENATOR WICKERSHAM:  So they don't get...






LARRY LINDQUIST:  Senator Bohlke and members of the Education Committee, I'm not going to be redundant.  I'm Larry Lindquist.  I am the administrator of Educational Service Unit number 6, who has contracted for the Seward County superintendency for 25 plus years.  They must trust us, Senator Wickersham, I don't know.




LARRY LINDQUIST:  They must trust us.  I don't know.  We've been doing it for...


SENATOR WICKERSHAM:  They contract with your organization and ...  I...


LARRY LINDQUIST:  Yes, with the organization.  And when you, the technicality becomes ...  is a ...  it still has to be a person that meets certification requirements at this time.


SENATOR WICKERSHAM:  To do it.  Right.


LARRY LINDQUIST:  I support LB 272.  1 was a member of the study committee that helped do all the work that Brian so ably presented to you.  And I think that things were put into very proper perspective with the committee.  I would echo Brian's sentiment at the end, when you talked about the records.  This is a concern that we have been discussing with Seward County for sometime.  There are a number of very valuable records.  You get some very unusual circumstances.  And, you know, the county clerks will probably not look


Committee on Education

January 25, 1999

Page 94


forward to having those people around to spend time.  But a lot of times, they have to...  they know where they grew up, around somebody's farmstead, if nobody has any idea and they have to dig and dig until they find it.  It is very crucial that we deal with the record issue.  Outside of that, I support (LB) 272 and would entertain any questions.


SENATOR BOHLKE:  Questions?  I see none.  Thank you.


SENATOR COORDSEN:  Oh, pardon me.






SENATOR BOHLKE:  Yes, you may.


SENATOR COORDSEN:  Larry, you heard the discussion about the changes in this.  Not allowing a school, or county ...  pardon me, county to contract with an entity rather it provides for an individual.  Does that present you with a problem, that language?


LARRY LINDQUIST:  It would.  However, in Seward County's case, Senator, they're going to abolish the office anyway.  So, they made it clear that they're not going to contract with anybody.  But happened to be in one of your constituent schools, the situation has happened.  And you would want to keep that with an agency because that's what happened.




LARRY LINDQUIST:  And it would ...  and it makes a lot of sense to broaden it out to an individual or an agency.




SENATOR BOHLKE:  Any other questions?  I see none.  Thank you.  Next person wishing to testify in support.  Anyone in opposition?  You can go ahead and begin your testimony if you haven't signed in and then sign in afterwards.


CHRISTINE NIELSEN:  Good evening.  I am Christine Nielsen, and I am the county superintendent of Rock County.  I am


Committee on Education

January 25, 1999

Page 95


also the president of the Nebraska Association of County Superintendents.  And I'm going to go back and forth on the statement I have given you because I have a hard time reading to people that I know how to read.  (Exhibit 0) Also I would like to apologize in advance that if ...  we only received this bill in our county on Friday.  And so, if I have misunderstood something, I apologize at this time.  And I'd like you to know that I am not totally opposed to LB 272.  1 think there are some current concerns, though, for the Class I's.  I happen to have seven Class I's and one Class VI in my county, and I do a number of things for all of the schools, not just the Class I's.  Some of the things that county superintendents do that are probably not statutory are:  we sit on the ESU advisory councils, drug-free schools, planning region teams for early intervention for zero to three-year-olds with special needs, and I also sit on a group that's looking at health care in the future.  I looked ...  as I looked through the bill, I came up with a number of things that I had questions about and comments about.  And being a teacher for nearly 18 years, or around 18 years, I guess I have a number of questions for you.  And that's what my testimony here addresses.  (Statute) 23-120 does not provide for rooms or office space for a school administrator, but 23121 does provide for books stationery and mileage.  So, my question is, where do we keep these things?  What about furniture, office machinery types of things?  Do we need to find an office in a Class I, many of which are only one or two rooms, or do we need to have it as a home office?  From where do we measure the mileage, from that office or from where?  (Statute) 23-3302 states that the county commissioners may contract with an individual holding a Nebraska Administrative and Supervisory Certificate to be the county administrator for the Class I schools in the county.  Which certification?  Should it be the principal certificate or the superintendent certificate.  Does population matter?  At this point in time, Rock County's population is such that the county superintendent does not need to have a superintendent certificate or a principal certificate.  However, I do in order to fulfill the other statutory requirements of having a principal in each school.  Can or should the county administrator be the principal of the Class I schools?  Or do they have to be required to use that person as their principal?  Again, does the size of the classroom come into play with any of this?  It's left up mainly to the county


Committee on Education

January 25, 1999

Page 96


commissioners, what about the school boards.  Just after the State of the Union address (sic), I know the Commissioner of Education answered an article in the World Herald about local control.  He encouraged our local control.  He, I think, praised it, from the way I read it.  I would hate to see us lose that, especially out in North Central Nebraska.  And again, where does the position fit under the county lids and the school levy limits?  I will address that again in a second.  (Statute) 79-401 and beyond discuss the school reorganization, which you've been discussing.  I don't know that our county clerks have the time, the personnel, or the interest, or even the knowledge of the educational issues in which to comply with that charge.  And if they have to hire more people for their office to take care of county reorganization issues, records issues, is that going to reduce the amount of money it's going to cost for the county to have someone do that?  I think it'll ...  they'll have to end up hiring someone else to do the duties that someone is already taking care of now.  Again, the local control issue for reorganization.  Also, with 370 Class I's, if the state reorganization committee is to fulfill all of those duties, how are they going to get to all of those places and understand all of the local issues?  The next one, I hope you, I don't like to be totally serious all the time, and so bare with me with this one a moment.  (Statute) 79205 requires teachers to file a third-day report with the county administrator.  (Statute) 206 requires the county administrator to compare the third-day report with the census.  But 524 says that the census is optional, and 578 requires a census.  I think you know my questions.




SENATOR WICKERSHAM:  That was a good one.


CHRISTINE NIELSEN:  Enough said.  (Statute) 79-709 states that the county commissioners may supervise and direct the school work for the county fair.  I think our local patrons would be upset if school work came before roads.  Or in the case of Rock County, you may have heard about our hog issue right now and zoning.  (Statute) 79-804 states that the school shall endorse the teacher's certificate.  Do we need to start teaching a building how to write?  But seriously, I do think a specifics person should be designated as the one to do the registering of the certificates.  I also have a


Committee on Education

January 25, 1999

Page 97


concern that the person registering the certificate is having a regulatory duty over themself.  Right now, any teacher that comes into my county, I register their certificate.  And, I hate to say it, but the state department does occasionally make mistakes on certificates.  So, I have to make sure that they are correctly certificated, and if not, then I usually contact them and we get it figured out somehow.  But if someone is not used to looking at those particular issues, will they have the knowledge, the foresight, to look at all the little numbers and letters on the teaching certificate.  But, mainly my concern is, can one being regulated be the regulator?  (Statute) 79-1047 transfers the public grazing fund receipts to the individual schools.  We receive about $120 a year in public grazing funds.  Not all counties receive public grazing funds.  A lot of the county superintendents look at me and wonder what I'm talking about.  What I use those receipts for is for a teacher's library.  We happen to have a county library.  We have a Bookmobile.  So my schools receive the correct number of books or visits from the Bookmobile to comply with Rule 10.  1 figured that my teachers are putting in enough of their time and energy that they shouldn't have to also buy all the extra things for the school if they want to do some enrichment activities.  I try to provide those through my office.  If this does get transferred to the, each school, I'm not sure exactly how they do determine that, but I have a feeling that in the certain school districts they have the federal land, and then that money comes for that land right there.  There may only be 20, 30 dollars that a school district could receive.  And they can't do very much efficiently or effectively with $20.  My other concern is, if they do change this, what do we do with that library that I have now?  I have talked already to our county librarian to see if we could maybe house these materials in the county library, but in a place that would be reserved for teachers, because, once again, I'm glad parents are concerned and want to work with their children to enrich them.  But I also don't want my teacher to take a booklet and say, "Okay, we're going to do this activity," and the child says, "Oh, my mom already did that with me this summer.,, It kind of ruins the whole effect of everything.  As you can see, I have a number of concerns with the bill.  I hope you will carefully consider the questions I've brought before you today.  And until some of these questions can be answered, I don't feel that I can


Committee on Education

January 25, 1999

Page 98


fully support LB 272.  Thank you.


SENATOR BOHLKE:  Questions?  Senator Wickersham.


SENATOR WICKERSHAM:  Well, I, I'm glad you noted the grazing lands' portions.  I know that's not very common in the state.  But, actually, I have experience with those.  And it has been useful to the schools.  But that raises a larger question.  Does your county run a textbook library?








SENATOR WICKERSHAM:  Because I'm wondering who will run that if you don't ...  maybe that's one of the duty...


CHRISTINE NIELSEN:  Well, I know Cherry County has a very large textbook...




CHRISTINE NIELSEN:  ...  library, and right now the ESU is helping to take care of that.




CHRISTINE NIELSEN:  They're kind of contracting with Sawyer Library.


SENATOR WICKERSHAM:  All right, because textbook libraries are valuable to those schools.  I know they are.


CHRISTINE NIELSEN:  Yes, they are.


SENATOR WICKERSHAM:  I want to make sure that that doesn't get dropped out someplace.






SENATOR BOHLKE:  Other questions?  I see none.  Thank you


Committee on Education

January 25, 1999

Page 99


for coming today.


CHRISTINE NIELSEN:  Thank you.  I also have before me, and I think passed out to you, Jack Hallstrom, the Douglas County Superintendent, could not be here today because he is performing a reorganization, joint reorganization committee meeting closing, or working with Washington 100.  And he asked me to present this for him.  (Exhibit P) So this is the...


SENATOR BOHLKE:  That will be entered in to the ...  we can just enter it into the record, you mean?  Or did you want to read it?


CHRISTINE NIELSEN:  He wanted me to read it.




CHRISTINE NIELSEN:  LB 272 recommends that the Nebraska office of the County Superintendent of Public Instruction be eliminated on June 30, 2000.  In the opinion of most of the County Superintendents and man Nebraska educators, this is another setback for our schools.  Let's go back to February 24, 1997.  The Education Committee had a hearing on LB 789.  The Nebraska Association of County Superintendents studied for two years the future of the Nebraska County Superintendent.  After many meetings and many, many hours of hard work, the concept of regional superintendents was developed.  LB 789 was introduced to regionalize the 93 county superintendents in the state to 16 regional superintendents; 14 full-time, 2 part-time.  These regional administrative offices would have a board made up of a county commissioner or a county board representative for each county in the region.  Each county's share of the regional office budget would have been based on the county's census 5 to 18-years-old and the number of school districts in the counties.  LB 789 would have limited the budget cost of a regional office to a.  maximum of 75,000 per year.  Nebraska's savings to the taxpayer in the county superintendents, 93 offices would have been a little over $1 million each year.  And the real advantage was that we would have 16 full or part-time professional superintendents You would have Been a tremendous improvement in the image of the county superintendent.  With the boards of each region selecting and employing energetic,


Committee on Education

January 25, 1999

Page 100


dedicated professional educators who have ideas, who have a vision of the future, and a true interest in improving education of youth, you would have seen quality service and leadership from each of the regional offices.  It was exciting to write and discuss the functions of the future regional administrators because of the real need for the position and because of the unselfishness of the individuals and the association who proposed LB 789.  It was really unheard of for a group to cut their own jobs, to propose a scaled down approach, an association not asking for additional tax funds, but proposing reduced cost to assist with lowering the tax burden.  Also, the Nebraska Association of County Superintendents were the first office of elected county officials to propose regionalizing their functions.  If this downsizing had worked for county superintendents, it probably would work for other county offices.  The breakthrough could have had long lasting effects upon county government in the future.  LB 789 was sponsored by Senator Ardyce Bohlke.  Other senators that signed on to the bill were Senator Hillman, Senator McKenzie, Senator Vrtiska, Senator Warner, Senator Wickersham, and Senator Will.  NACO, NCSA, county boards, and other organizations, and individuals supported the concept.  There was no organized opposition.  officials still ask today why didn't LB 789 pass.  It was the right thing to do.  Is it too late to regionalize the office of County Superintendent of Public Instruction in Nebraska?  The answer is obvious, no.  Table LB 272 and ask the Nebraska Association of County Superintendents to rework LB 789.  There is a definite need for a regulatory office between the Nebraska Department of Education and the individual school district, regardless of size.  Recently, the Nebraska Department of Education sent our office a list of Rule 13 families who did not submit exempt status forms for the 1998-99 school year.  Our office sent letters 71 families.  Hour and hours have been spent in trying to locate these children.  Who will do this demanding task?  Our office has, in the past weeks checked every Douglas County teacher presently teaching during the 1998-1999 term to determine it they have a proper and valid Nebraska certificate.  We sent letter to approximately 150 teachers, with copies to their superintendents, to notify them they were not properly registered.  This involves many, many hours.  Who will do this demanding task?  The Nebraska Department of Education sends the office of county


Committee on Education

January 25, 1999

Page 101


superintendent countless letters and other correspondence asking for our assistance.  We sometimes ask ourselves why did the department, at the hearing of LB 1217 two years ago, support the elimination of the office?  Our opinion:  we do not believe their leadership really understands how valuable the county superintendent's office is to the Nebraska Department of Education and to the schools and to the public in Nebraska.  we could go on and on discussing mandates and services that we provide for schools in our counties.  The bottom line is that mandates can always be assigned to other offices, services cannot.  Most, maybe all, services that we now provide will be lost.  Who will be the loser?  The children of this state.  County clerks and county treasurers who already are very busy want nothing to do with the county superintendent's duties and responsibilities.  Do we want non-educators to handle education issues in the state of Nebraska?  I would think that the clear answer is no.  Table LB 272 and resurrect LB 789.  Thank you.


SENATOR BOHLKE:  Thank you.  Questions from the committee?  I see none.  Thank you.  Next person testifying in opposition.


RON WENNINGHOFF:  Yes, my name is Ron Wenninghoff, and I'm a retired school administrator.  And I have spent 12 years as a county superintendent of school in Otoe County, Nebraska.  First, I envy you, not for the decisions that you have to make, but I hope you enjoyed the first two hours this afternoon.  If you have never had an opportunity to stand in front of a bunch of young people to make your livelihood and look at the enthusiasm, you know, and all of the things that go along with that, then you have missed a wonderful opportunity.  I have a problem with this bill, and for two reasons.  First, for the standards that have been set for educators in this state and the educational leadership that I feel will be lost if you eliminate the office of the county superintendent.  Currently, of course, you have to have at least a minimum of a bachelor's degree and a teacher's certificate to serve as a county superintendent in a lot of counties in Nebraska.  If you are in a county that has a specific population, then that administrator has to hold a master's degree because that's what you need to get an administrator's endorsement.  I called the county, I beg your pardon, the state office ...  oh...  let me find it here in a minute...  the Secretary of State office.  You are going to


Committee on Education

January 25, 1999

Page 102


assign some of these duties to county clerks and county treasurers.  And I found it interesting that they told me there are no requirements.  There are no educational requirements.  There's no certification to be a county clerk or a county treasurer.  And I got to thinking, my mother grew up on the North side of Lincoln here, where the Lincoln Airport is now, and got an eighth grade education.  My dad grew up in South Omaha and got and eighth grade education in a parochial school.  And if ...  in 1915 or 1920 they could have run for those two offices because they qualified.  They could have qualified today too.  The educational bar in Nebraska has continually gone up, and up, and up until recently the State Board of Education passed the state standards.  And I'm glad they did.  I wholeheartedly agree.  What I'm trying to say is that this bill, in the area ...  a part of this bill has lowered that state standard so low I don't even know whether a professional, what do they call it, limbo dancer could get underneath it.  I mean, Lt's just pretty bad.  The other part I am concerned with, you know, is the leadership.  When I, last year was my last year in office.  We had nine Class I schools and three Class III schools in Otoe County.  And I continually got questions from board members, and constituents, and teachers from all of those districts, you know.  The law ...  and I think maybe in some respects I might have been asked to be a check and balance on how I interpreted the law and maybe how some of those Class III superintendents interpreted the law.  And since I've been out of office in the last three weeks, I have had 13 calls because they don't have anyone else to answer those questions because the county board has not come up with anyone to fill that position.  I'm not opposed to part of this bill, but I am really opposed because I think the biggest mistake that you have is taking the local control of school reorganizations and giving it to the state of Nebraska.  In my estimation, this is going to open a very, very large can of worms that you're going to have to contend with for the next few years.  I do have a couple of questions on the bill.  The administrator, I think Senator Wickersham mentioned it, the bill doesn't address any credentials whatsoever.  It just says school administrators.  And secondly, the estimated savings I'm not disagreeing with, but I think one part of it was addressed that they would...  the state, I think Brian said you were going to...  they were going to have to, what, increase their budget like $64,000 to have someone, what, address the


Committee on Education

January 25, 1999

Page 103


reorganization of schools?  And then what the bill also, does it not, address as far as financial savings are concerned, you know, are what additional help the county clerks or the county treasurers may have to hire to do this particular job, you know.  So, if you have any questions I'd be glad to answer them.  I know you had some questions on reorganization.  I have eliminated eleven districts in the twelve...  I have reorganized, I have haven't eliminated, I reorganized eleven districts in the twelve years that I was county superintendent, Senator.  And of the nine Class I districts that presently are operating in Otoe County, I suspect that three of them will go down in a year or two because of lack of students.  And the problem of dealing with committees over state lines and time constraints, you know, that's minimal.  That's minimal.  Any questions?


SENATOR BOHLKE:  Thank you.  Any questions?


RON WENNINGHOFF:  Thank you, Senators.  Have a good eve.


SENATOR BOHLKE:  Thank you.  Anyone else wishing to testify in opposition?


SAM TOWNSEND:  Thank you, Senator, and members of the committee.  I'm Sam Townsend.  That's spelled T-o-w-n-s-e-n-d.  I live in Clay Center, Nebraska.  I'm here.  I just first came to hear the conversation and to hear the opposition and the support of this bill.  And I've decided, sitting back there, that I'd like to speak in opposition to it.  As I sit here, some things ran through my mind.  First of all, we only have one Class I school in Clay County.  We've reorganized five of them, I believe, since I've been there.  I met recently with our Clay County board and they felt that they did not want to assign these responsibilities as outlined in the recommendations to other members in the courthouse for couple of reasons.  They were under the impression that those people had more than enough to do already.  Secondly, they wanted those responsibilities handled by someone with a little bit of background experience in the field of education.  I can visualize the records and the information becoming misplaced, obsolete, perhaps disposed of, if it isn't placed in the hands of someone who knows what they're doing and has, first of all, some interest in doing it, which I don't believe will happen if it is assigned to clerical personnel in the courthouse,


Committee on Education

January 25, 1999

Page 104


which is, I fear will happen with the scenario as I hear it proposed here.  First of all, I'm in favor of efficiency in government, but the figures that I hear that would be a savings if the position is eliminated, I would have some question with those because other people who are assigned those jobs in the courthouse are going to have to be paid for that.  if it takes more time to do it, then it's going to cost more.  So, I would seriously question the savings that I hear mentioned here that would occur if the position is eliminated.  I'm very comfortable that I'm able to assist people that come into our office wanting birth affidavits, school districts still asking questions about original reorganization petitions that were filed almost fifty years ago.  We still have those.  I worked on some of those this summer.  They were very thankful that we were able to dig those out and help them with their questions.  I think we need to give serious thought before we make this decision.  First, I had no idea that the law was being introduced until I read this hearing in the paper yesterday.  I thought we had addressed the issue back with LB 806.  If you have any questions, I'd try and answer those.


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


SAM TOWNSEND:  Thank you.


SENATOR BOHLKE:  Anyone else wishing to speak in opposition?  Anyone wishing to present neutral testimony?


MARILYN MEERKATZ:  Senator Bohlke, members of the Education Committee, I'm Marilyn Meerkatz.  I'm the executive director of Class I's United.  First of all, I would just like to express on behalf of our membership, our appreciation for the work that the county superintendents have done throughout the history of our schools to work with our Class I districts.  And we believe that there are...  that the need still exists in many areas for those roles to continue.  And I'm glad that you have provided for the continuance of those roles through the county administrator's office.  What, I guess, a question that I have is, would it not be possible, if the county supervisors determine that they would like the current county superintendent to continue the duties that are being reassigned to the county clerk and to the county treasurers and so on, to be given back to that person as a agent of the county clerk's office, or as an


Committee on Education

January 25, 1999

Page 105


agent of the county treasurer's office?  Would there be anything in this bill that would prohibit that from happening?  And I guess if there is, then I would encourage you to do some amendments so ...  because I think in some areas the expertise is there.  There is no need to move it to another office, and in other areas clearly that need no longer exists so, it could be then eliminated at the discretion of the county.  That's all I have to say on that subject.


SENATOR BOHLKE:  Thank you.  Any questions for Marilyn?  I see none.  Thank you.




SENATOR BOHLKE:  Anyone else wishing to give neutral testimony?  Glad you got the color scheme right.


AMY SHANE:  You bet, fitting right in.  Thank you.  I am Amy Shane.  I am currently serving as the elected county superintendent in Holt County.  I hadn't planned on testifying, but as I was listening to questions from the committee I thought I might have some possible answers.  Senator Wickersham, you wondered what other duties this county administrator might provide for the districts.  In Holt County, we have 24 Class I school districts.  Some of the things that I have done for some of those districts are:  filling out E-rate applications for telecommunications discounts, which provide tax relief to everyone in the system when we receive those monies.  I've written grants for Class I districts.  I am currently working on curriculum coordination between the Class I's and the Class III's and VI's.  I also am working with state standards.  So, there are a lot of things that this person could do besides the things that would be given to the clerk or to the treasurer.  I also would encourage, if maybe by amendment, allowing if the county supervisors deem to continue county administrator, that they could retain the records and those things in their office.  It seems silly, if there's going to be a person in the courthouse doing educational types of things, to try and find a place in the clerk's office for educational records.  So, I guess those are some of my insights.  Also wanted to clarify on the fiscal savings.  I know I also don't see where there would be that much of a savings.  If everybody was eliminated and no county


Committee on Education

January 25, 1999

Page 106


supervisors chose to provide a county administrator, then that savings would be realized.  But if the supervisors in Holt County decided that they wanted to contract with the county school administrator, I'm under the assumption that they could do that at whatever cost they deem appropriate.  So, that might affect the cost savings that you were looking at earlier, Senator Raikes.


SENATOR BOHLKE:  Thank you.  Senator Coordsen.


SENATOR COORDSEN:  Thank you for coming up.  I've been sitting here for last period of time puzzling a little bit about this bill and the way it's written.




SENATOR COORDSEN:  Certainly there are counties that really have no need for a county administrator or county superintendent or whatever.  Would it be your neutral opinion that we should carefully look at the bill, and in those cases where it's appropriate to have the opportunity for county board to employ a school administrator or whatever the proper title is...


AMY SHANE:  Um-hum.


SENATOR COORDSEN:  That there be flexibility to retain for that administrator many of the county superintendent responsibilities that have been transferred to other units of county government?


AMY SHANE:  I think that would be very appropriate.


SENATOR COORDSEN:  I don't think that flexibility exists now, and I was wondering about that.  Thank you.


AMY SHANE:  Right, I'm not sure that that flexibility exists either as it's written.  But I think it would be appropriate.


SENATOR COORDSEN:  I'm not...  it may, but I'm not sure.


AMY SHANE:  I'm not sure either, but...




Committee on Education

January 25, 1999

Page 107


SENATOR BOHLKE:  Any other questions?  I see none.  Thank you.  Anyone else wishing to further vie neutral testimony?  I'm assuming the Page isn't going to provide neutral testimony.  (laughter) Senator Stuhr, do you wish to close?


SENATOR STUHR:  Thank you, and first let me say that I too appreciate all the work that county superintendents have done through the years.  And, I guess, looking at this bill,.  it was introduced in...  for efficiency.  And I guess you have to look, and if you looked at the fiscal note, that in 1997 there are only six ...  this was in 1997, six full-time county superintendents out of 93 counties.  So, it would make you wonder that, is the importance there, the need there, as it was when county superintendents were first ...  and I'm not sure exactly what year that they came about, but I know that it was in the 1800's that we had the first county superintendents.  And I guess, looking at the needs that we have today, I am certainly open.  This bill took recommendations.  And I think all of you, and I didn't refer to it earlier, but these were the recommendations from the committee and on that committee ...  and I appreciate ...  Amy Shane did serve on the committee.  I believe there were six or seven county superintendents that made up that advisory committee, all with the purpose of looking at how we could make this position more efficient.  And, I guess, one thing that I really want to emphasize that we did look at some local options, providing for those counties that still wanted to hire a county superintendent, that they could do 80.  And that was ...  leaving that open for local control, so that those counties could establish those responsibilities.  Now, if this bill ...  this is primarily the same bill that we addressed last year.  I think this is what happens when you delay bills year after year, then you miss the impact of all of the points that were brought out several years ago.  But it was the intent that there would be local control.  We know that our state, in some areas, that there are a great number of Class I's that there still may be a need.  I'm certainly open to...for the committee to look at this and make additional recommendations.  Again thanking everyone that did come today, I think it was important to hear both sides.


SENATOR BOHLKE:  Any questions for Senator Stuhr?  Senator Stuhr...


Committee on Education

January 25, 1999

Page 108




SENATOR BOHLKE:  Did you say there are six full-time, but there are some others serving less than full-time?


SENATOR STUHR:  There are eleven, according to the 1997, and I don't know if those records are actually could be updated, you know, from 1997 to last year, which would have been 198-199.  But, pointing out that there were six fulltime county superintendents, eleven who were half to fulltime.  So that is ...  so, it does point out that there is some need in certain areas, primarily where there are Class I schools.


SENATOR BOHLKE:  Senator Raikes.


SENATOR RAIKES:  Would there be a problem, in your opinion, Senator Stuhr, with providing the county an option of retaining all the county superintendent duties and records with a county administrator who might be full or part-time?


SENATOR STUHR:  Actually, if that county that, you know, that was the intent.  If the county wants to hire a person in that capacity that we, you know, we left it open that they may.  But, we did transfer some of the duties.  So, yes, it makes sense.  If they really want to keep that person, and if they want them to do all of those duties, I don't have a problem with that.  The records, yes, the records are and that has been discussed this afternoon.  You know, who should retain those records.  I guess, what we really didn't hit on is technology today.  Most of the superintendents in the systems that we have now established, where we have a high school system and then Class I's.  I'm sure that that certification of teachers is done through that superintendent of that system, and reporting to the department of education.  So, you know, with the technology many of these things are being done, but, as I said, I recognize that there is still a need for some of those counties that have the Class I's that still want to continue...




SENATOR STUHR:  ...  with that process.


Committee on Education

January 25, 1999

Page 109


SENATOR BOHLKE:  Thank you.  Any other questions?  If not, that closes the hearing.