Learning community common levy eliminated

Senators passed a bill April 13 that ends the Omaha learning community’s common levy and provides transition aid to member districts.

The Legislature created the learning community in 2007 to share resources among the students in the broader Omaha area to help address the achievement gap of children in the city center.

Introduced by Sen. Kate Sullivan of Cedar Rapids, LB1067 repeals the 95-cent common levy and 2-cent special building fund levy for the 11 school districts in Douglas and Sarpy counties that make up the learning community.

Member districts instead will have an individual levy and will retain a 2-cent levy used for early childhood education. The bill increases the amount of state aid for school districts with a high percentage of students in poverty and provides transition aid over two years.

Under the bill, learning communities will create a plan to address achievement equity and barriers to achievement such as poverty, mobility and truancy. Districts will be eligible for additional state aid after the State Board of Education approves the plans. Multidistrict educational service units also may create achievement plans to qualify for the additional aid.

The bill will provide $5.7 million in community achievement plan aid, which will go predominantly to Omaha Public Schools. The proposal will cost approximately $13.4 million, down from the original bill’s estimated cost of $17.3 million to $20.7 million.

Senators voted 40-7 to pass the bill.

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