Proposal to eliminate several school classifications advanced

Lawmakers advanced a bill Jan. 16 that would eliminate three of the state’s six public school classifications.

Introduced by the Education Committee last session, LB377 would eliminate Class I, II and VI districts, with the remaining Class II districts becoming Class III districts. All districts then would be classified as either Class III, IV or V.

North Platte Sen. Mike Groene, chairperson of the committee, said the state Department of Education requested the reduction to simplify state law. He said the bill would not affect education policy and that the state’s 18 remaining Class II districts did not protest the change. The six current classifications have existed since 1949, Groene added, when Nebraska had more than 6,500 school districts. It now has 244, he said.

“It is redundant to have six classifications in statute when three will suffice,” Groene said.

Under current law, Class I districts maintain only elementary grades under the direction of a single school board. Class II districts have a population of no more than 1,000 and maintain both elementary and high school grades under a single school board. Class VI districts include those that maintain only a high school or a high school and middle school. Groene said no Class I or VI districts remain.

Under LB377, Class III districts would have fewer than 150,000 inhabitants and maintain elementary and high school grades under a single school board.

Class IV districts are those with a population of 100,000 or more that maintain elementary and high school grades. Class V districts have a metropolitan-class city, and their employees participate in a separate retirement system. Groene said Lincoln Public Schools would be the only remaining Class IV district, and Omaha Public Schools would be the only remaining Class V district.

Senators voted 41-0 to advance LB377 to select file.

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