School repair bill advanced

Senators gave first-round approval March 3 to a bill that would give school districts increased spending authority.

Currently, school districts are not required to initiate a bidding process for construction, remodeling or repairs when the expenditure is estimated to cost less than $40,000. LB431, introduced by Lincoln Sen. Roy Baker, would increase the threshold to $100,000.

Baker said that the initial threshold was established decades ago and never has been adjusted for inflation.

“That $40,000 level was enacted by the 1979 Legislature, 36 years ago,” he said. “Adjusted for today’s numbers, that would be over $130,000. [LB431] would allow school districts to move faster to make necessary repairs.”

The state Board of Education would adjust the threshold to account for inflation every five years, based upon the percentage change in the consumer price index.

Omaha Sen Rick Kolowski supported the bill, saying that the proposed changes are long overdue.

“This would not only save time but also money,” he said. “It would be useful for them to be able to draw this new line in bidding for future projects.”

Senators advanced the bill to select file on a 38-0 vote.

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