Changes to education funding advanced

A bill containing several changes for the Tax Equity and Educational Support Opportunities Act (TEEOSA) and Education Innovation Fund was amended and advanced March 13.

LB967, introduced by the Education Committee, would reduce by half the teacher education and instructional time allowances and aid under TEEOSA for fiscal year 2015-16 and eliminate it completely in FY2016-17. The bill also would provide district reorganization support grants.

An Education Committee amendment, adopted 30-0, incorporated the provisions of several additional bills into LB967. For 2014-15 and 2015-16, the amendment would make the following changes to allocations and transfers from the Education Innovation Fund:
• add $200,000 per year to the existing transfers to the Enhancing Excellence in Teaching Cash Fund, per LB842 by Hyannis Sen. Al Davis;
• limit distance education equipment and incentives to $2 million for 2014-15 and $2.5 million for 2015-16;
• transfer $1 million per year for reorganization support, per LB967;
• allocate $145,000 per year to continue the college admissions test pilot project for two additional years, per LB835 by Lincoln Sen. Bill Avery; and
• allocate $335,000 for 2014-15 and an estimated $344,000 for 2015-16 for evaluating and improving career education programs to align with economic and workforce needs, per LB754 by Papillion Sen. Jim Smith.

Additional provisions related to the Education Innovation Fund would:
• allow lottery funds that are allocated to reorganization support grants and early childhood education prior to the termination of the Education Innovation Fund to be used after the fund terminates on June 30, 2016, per LB967 and LB984 by Cedar Rapids Sen. Kate Sullivan;
• transfer unspent funds from other allocations and transfers to the Nebraska Education Improvement Fund on Aug. 1, 2016, per LB967 and LB984;
• transfer the remaining funds in the Excellence in Teaching Cash Fund to the Nebraska Education Improvement Fund on Aug. 1, 2016;
• retain $3 million to be transferred to the Nebraska Education Improvement Fund, which will receive lottery funds for education beginning July 1, 2016, per LB984; and
• further clarify the final deadlines for distance education incentives, per LB1069 by Sullivan.

Additional provisions from LB967 and LB984 would:
• phase out the teacher education and instructional time allowances and aid by 50 percent for 2015-16 and completely for 2016-17;
• add an intent for all children to have access to early childhood education programs in the year prior to kindergarten; and
• add intent for new appropriations to be used for such access to programs.

Additional provisions from LB1069 would:
• replace outdated references to the North Central Association for postsecondary education;
• harmonize department of education requirements with the Nebraska Publications Clearinghouse requirements;
• specifically authorize school district expenditures related to programs and activities;
• require the Early Childhood Training Center to approve training for the Step Up to Quality Child Care Act;
• update special education definitions; and
• include private postsecondary career schools in any interstate reciprocity agreements for postsecondary distance education.

Finally, provisions of LB958 by Omaha Sen. Tanya Cook would create the position of achievement coordinator in the state Department of Education and provide intent for early childhood education appropriations.

Senators advanced the bill on a 31-0 vote.

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