Committee on Government, Military and Veterans Affairs

February 28, 1997


Page 5


LB 595


SENATOR ROBINSON:  Members of the committee, Senator Janssen, I'm C.N.  Bud Robinson, of the 16th Legislative District introduce LB 595.  LB S95 allows Class III school boards members to be nominated by district or ward and elected at large.  This is a method of election which is already in place with at least one other political subdivision.  NRDs may elect this way if they choose.  LB 595 is necessary because of a bill passed in 1974.  In 1974, a revisor's bill, LB 592, was passed by the Legislature.  The bill pertained to a reorganization of school districts and election Of school board members.  it repealed a statute which allowed Class III districts to nominate by districts and at large.  We've tried to find out why this statute was repealed.  There was no committee hearing so there is no transcript of the hearing.  The floor debate from 174 contains only reference, one reference to


Committee on Government, Military and Veterans Affairs

February 28, 1997

Page 6


the repeal of this section.  Senator Terry Carpenter said it was okay to repeal the statute because the main factors had been incorporated in LB 592.  Some of the language which was adopted in LB 592 was somewhat vague.  That language has since been repealed.  (inaudible) However, it may have been the language to which Senator Carpenter referred to when he said ...  when he said it had been incorporated into LB 592.  For these reasons, I believe that the repeal was unintentional.  A Class III district in my area of Tekamah-Herman requests that the law be reinstated.  That is why I introduced LB 592.  LB 592 is not intrusive legislation.  It only allows, it does not require a board to nominate members by district or ward and elect at large.  I urge you to advance the bill.  I'll be happy to answer any questions.  Senator...  excuse me, I already made a senator out of the superintendent who is going to follow ...  Superintendent Dean Chase will follow me in testimony.


SENATOR JANSSEN:  I just have one question, Senator Robinson.  Now, you would nominate by wards, then.




SENATOR JANSSEN:  All right, how would you establish...


SENATOR ROBINSON:  You would have that ...  you would have that option.


SENATOR JANSSEN:  You would have the option to nominate by wards. 


SENATOR ROBINSON:  And then ...  yeah.


SENATOR JANSSEN:  All right then...


SENATOR ROBINSON:  And then elect at the general.


SENATOR JANSSEN:  How would you set those ...  are the wards already established or would you do it by townships or how...


SENATOR ROBINSON:  Well, they are in this situation.  I presume if it isn't then the school board would probably do


Committee on Government, Military and Veterans Affairs

February 28, 1997

Page 7




SENATOR JANSSEN:  Set up the wards then.


SENATOR ROBINSON:  Yeah.  I presume that's what would happen.


SENATOR JANSSEN:  Okay.  Senator Schmitt.


SENATOR SCHMITT:  This just deals with school districts.






SENATOR ROBINSON:  That's correct.


SENATOR JANSSEN:  Just Class III school districts.


SENATOR SCHMITT:  Class III school districts.


SENATOR JANSSEN:  Senator Schimek.


SENATOR SCHIMEK:  I was thinking that maybe the election commission would draw the lines.


SENATOR ROBINSON:  Yeah, they may.  I'm not...  I can't tell you for sure.


SENATOR SCHIMEK:  I'm not sure either.  And refresh my memory, Class III school districts is what size district.


DEAN CHASE:  It represents the huge majority of the districts in the state.  Lincoln is a Class IV and Omaha is Class V.




SENATOR ROBINSON:  Why don't you give that...  I think there's a number...  I think there's a population figure involved in that too, and I can't...  I thought it was 1,000, but I'm not sure.


SENATOR STUHR:  It's less 100,000, 1 believe.


Committee on Government, Military and Veterans Affairs

February 28, 1997

Page 8


SENATOR ROBINSON:  I think that's right.


TOM NORRIS:  High school, less than 100,000, K 12.


SENATOR ROBINSON:  Any other questions.


SENATOR JANSSEN:  Seeing none.  The next testifier.


SENATOR ROBINSON:  I'll waive closing because I think Senator Kristensen ...  he's here.


DEAN CHASE:  Senator Janssen, members of the committee, my name is Dean Chase, spelled C-h-a-s-e, I am the Superintendent of Schools with the Tekamah-Herman Community Schools and I'm here on behalf of my board of education.  Back in 1969 the Tekamah-Herman Community Schools came into existence with the consolidation of the Herman and the Tekamah public schools.  At that time, having talked to several of the board members who were on the board at that time, they worked a long time, long and hard, trying to find out what representation would best meet the needs of this new district.  They settled upon three wards.  And they were set in this fashion.  One ward would represent the original Herman School District.  Another ward would represent the members of our rural community that originally made up....was part of the Tekamah District.  And the third ward would represent those people residing within the city limits of Tekamah.  The ...  and they've been elected that way ever since.  Earlier this year, we had a board member who was contemplating a move to the rural area.  our board policy spoke to that and said it was all right, but ...  and she could continue on.  But to be safe, we asked legal counsel and were very shocked to find that what we have been doing was not mentioned in statute, had been when it was originally decided upon, but had been removed in 1974.  So the district, with legal counsel, explored their options.  And after studying the issue, my school board came to the conclusion that what we were doing was the best option available and they came to that conclusion for three ...  what they feel is very simple reasons ...  are very simple reasons.  Number one, the representation guarantees the...  in the three wards, three distinct groups to be represented on our board.  Secondly, they're represented fairly by the numbers of people residing within those wards.  Approximately six


Committee on Government, Military and Veterans Affairs

February 28, 1997

Page 9


hundred people per ward ...  per representative in those wards.  And thirdly and very importantly, it allows everyone within our school district to vote on who's spending their hard earned tax dollars.  For these reasons we asked Senator Robinson to explore the possibility of allowing us to continue to elect board members in this way.  You need to note that there are numbers of other schools in this state that do what we do.  They don't know that the 1974 statute was removed either.  For these reasons we would ask your support of LB 595.  We appreciate your hard work and the time and effort you've given us and if you have any questions, I'd be more than happy to try and answer them.


SENATOR JANSSEN:  Dean, would you ...  am I right in hearing you say that your wards are set up in six hundred ...  population of six hundred, you have a representative for every six hundred people.


DEAN CHASE:  Yes, it's very close to that, yes.


SENATOR JANSSEN:  So that is similar to the way that supervisor forms of government ...  county government are set up, they're set up by population too, I believe, so many ...  so that's the way you envisioned yours to go, but that wouldn't mean that everyone would have to comply with that same...


DEAN CHASE:  No.  It was one of the critical factors though that the board back in 1969 chose to use as a determiner for what representation they would finally land upon.  They wanted to make sure that each school board member represented about the same number of people.


SENATOR JANSSEN:  Yeah, well, you take the...  I'm just thinking of Fremont School District, they would, you know, that encompasses mostly just the city, or it goes outside the city limit too, but I imagine they would set that up in wards too.  Like they do their city.  You know, so you would ...  because...  I'm sure that the city is set in wards, you know, with people...  so that they can draw the line ...  population lines there.


DEAN CHASE:  Yes, I think they do.


Committee on Government, Military and Veterans Affairs

February 28, 1997

Page 10


SENATOR JANSSEN:  Any other questions.  Senator Schimek.


SENATOR SCHIMEK:  Yes, I would like to...  I would like to get this bill passed, I think it's an important concept that we need to do.  I just have a few reservations.  Generally, you have always drawn the districts, is that not generally done by the election commissioner or the county clerk.


DEAN CHASE:  Senator, I'm sorry, I don't think I can effectively answer that question.  I know from talking to those board members...  a number of those board members, that they did it ...  they wanted to make sure that the Herman district had a representative and I think that's 'where it started.  They said about how many people will they represent in the original Herman district and it was about six hundred.  They got to looking and they had about twelve hundred people living in the rural area of the original Tekamah district and eighteen hundred within the city limits.  And so it just worked out mathematically beautifully for them.


SENATOR SCHIMEK:  Well, and I think you did it right.  I think that's the way it should be done.  But, if it's know, if we return it to statute, which everybody apparently thinks it is already anyway, we don't have any assurance that other school districts will be done by equitable population proportion.  And I see the Secretary of State's Office is here and maybe he can answer some of my questions at some point.


SENATOR JANSSEN:  In the case of the election commissioner, isn't the...  in a smaller county, election commissioner is the county clerk, if I believe...


SENATOR SCHIMEK:  That's what I said, either the election commissioner or county clerk.


SENATOR JANSSEN:  Oh, I'm sorry, I didn't catch ...  any other questions.  Senator Robinson.


SENATOR ROBINSON:  Well, in section 4, it does say that the school board will set the boundaries.




Committee on Government, Military and Veterans Affairs

February 28, 1997

Page 11


SENATOR ROBINSON:  It doesn't...  it Just says the school board ...  yeah ...  yeah.


SENATOR JANSSEN:  They'll set the boundaries, yeah.  Course that could be geographically or population.


SENATOR ROBINSON:  Counsel, do you have a comment.


TOM NORRIS:  That's current law.


SENATOR ROBINSON:  Yeah, that's current law, so.


SENATOR JANSSEN:  All right.  Okay, thank you, Dean, for your testimony.


DEAN CHASE:  Thank you, Senators.


SENATOR JANSSEN:  Any other proponents.  John.


JOHN BONAIUTO:  Senator Janssen, members of the committee, John Bonaiuto, the Executive Director of Nebraska Association of School Boards.  My last name is spelled B-on-a-i-u-t-o, all the vowels but an e, and I'm working on that.  And, the ...  we support the bill, we have researched a little bit about the history and what the replacement of this would do and feel that it is a good option to put statutory authority back where boards can make the decision and use this as an option for electing by ward, but having the election where all of the people would be able to vote.  So, we think it's a good idea, not just because it's a common practice, but we should provide as many options for communities to get the best representation possible.  (Exhibit 1)


SENATOR ROBINSON:  Questions for John.




JOHN BONAIUTO:  Yes, Senator.


SENATOR JANSSEN:  Would you explain to the committee what a Class III school is.


Committee on Government, Military and Veterans Affairs

February 28, 1997

Page 12


JOHN BONAIUTO:  Looking at the different classifications of schools, and we have Class I's, the elementary districts, Class II is smaller districts, we're going now by population areas.  Class III where we have the majority of our districts.  Class IV would be one district.  Class V a single district and then Class VI would be the high school districts.  And so the classifications have been just designated terms just to take a look at the size and how districts will work within statute.


SENATOR JANSSEN:  Class III school is a K-12.


JOHN BONAIUTO:  Twelve, yes, it is a K-12 school.


SENATOR JANSSEN:  And is there a minimum amount of students in a Class III?


JOHN BONAIUTO:  I'm not sure that there's a minimum.  I'd have to...




JOHN BONAIUTO:  There is ...  and I think that's a ...  the difference between the Class II and the Class Ill.


SENATOR JANSSEN:  It it's below that, it's a Class II.


JOHN BONAIUTO:  Yes.  The smaller than that would be the Class II.


SENATOR JANSSEN:  Yeah.  Any other ...  Senator Robinson.


SENATOR ROBINSON:  I think it's population.


JOHN BONAIUTO:  It is by...




JOHN BONAIUTO:  It's not students, it's by the population of the area that is involved.


SENATOR JANSSEN:  Any other questions.  Seeing none, thank you, John.


Committee on Government, Military and Veterans Affairs

February 28, 1997

Page 13


JOHN BONAIUTO:  Thank you.


SENATOR JANSSEN:  Other proponents.  Are there any opponents.  Any one in a neutral capacity.  Seeing none.  Senator Robinson, would you like to close.


SENATOR ROBINSON:  I waived it, I waived it.


SENATOR JANSSEN:  Okay, you waive closing, all right.  Senator Kristensen.


SENATOR ROBINSON:  Senator Kristensen.  Are you going to give me the control back or are you keeping it?


SENATOR JANSSEN:  Yes.  You took it any way.


SENATOR ROBINSON:  I knew I'd get that.  Begin the hearing on LB 5 ...  nope, nope, LR38CA.  Well, we gave you a little rest back there, Senator Kristensen.  Nice to have you with Us.