Education cleanup, extension of lottery allocations approved

Lawmakers passed a bill May 20 that makes several technical changes to education law and extends current allocations of lottery funds to education-related programs.

Sen. Lynne Walz
Sen. Lynne Walz

LB528, sponsored by Fremont Sen. Lynne Walz, extends the sunset date to school year 2020-21 for a grant program meant to improve teacher effectiveness, expands the list of programs eligible for the Community College Gap Assistance Program and changes eligibility requirements for the Access College Early Scholarship Program.

The bill also specifies that the purchase of computer technology or equipment and internet access and related services are qualified higher education expenses under the Nebraska educational savings plan trust.

Additionally, each school board must require that the telephone number for a national or local suicide prevention hotline or a crisis text line be included on new student identification cards beginning with the 2022-23 school year.

Public postsecondary institutions also will include one of those numbers on new student ID cards beginning with the 2022-23 academic year.

LB528 includes provisions of LB3, introduced by Sen. Tom Briese of Albion, that require the state Department of Education to establish and maintain a website where the public may access school financial data at the statewide and district levels. The website will include total receipts, receipts classified by source, total expenditures, cost per pupil and performance.

Also included are provisions of LB558, sponsored by Omaha Sen. Tony Vargas, that require the state commissioner of education to grant a temporary teaching certificate to any applicant who has completed a teacher education program at a standard institution of higher education and has a certificate to teach in good standing from another state.

Finally, LB528 extends the current allocation of lottery funds to several education-related programs, including need-based college scholarships for Nebraska students, through fiscal year 2023-24.

The bill passed on a vote of 48-0.

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