Education package amended, advanced to final round

Senators gave second-round approval May 9 to a bill containing several education-related measures after amending it to add a high school graduation requirement and modify a proposal intended to increase the number of Nebraska teachers.

Sen. Dave Murman
Sen. Dave Murman

LB705, sponsored by Sen. Dave Murman of Glenvil, would allocate state lottery proceeds to various education programs over the next several years. Lawmakers amended the bill on general file to add provisions of 22 other bills heard by the Education Committee this session.

Murman introduced an amendment on select file, adopted 40-3, that he said would make technical corrections to some of those measures.

The amendment would strike a proposed program intended to help paraprofessionals and paraeducators become certified teachers and instead create the Nebraska Teacher Apprenticeship Program, which would be administered by the state Department of Education.

An employee of a public or private school or an individual who has a contract to begin working for a public or private school at the start of the school year could apply for the program.

In order to earn a teaching certificate under the program, an applicant would be required to complete a one-year apprenticeship in a classroom, have a bachelor’s degree and pass subject area and pedagogy examinations created by the department.

The amendment states legislative intent to appropriate $1 million to the program from the new Education Future Fund each year beginning with fiscal year 2023-24. The fund would be created under LB681, introduced by Elmwood Sen. Robert Clements.

Under another measure amended into LB705 on general file, school districts could apply to the department for a payment intended to cover large, unexpected special education expenditures.

The amendment states legislative intent to appropriate up to $2.5 million from the Education Future Fund for payments to qualifying applicants each year, beginning with fiscal year 2023-24.

Murman’s amendment also states legislative intent to appropriate $10 million from the Education Future Fund to another proposal amended into LB705 that would provide recruitment and retention grants to Nebraska elementary and high school teachers.

Finally, the amendment includes provisions of LB201, introduced by Sen. Tony Vargas of Omaha, which would require public high school students to complete and submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid prior to graduating, beginning with school year 2024-25.

A student’s parent or legal guardian, or the school principal or the principal’s designee, could sign a form authorizing the student to decline to complete and submit a FAFSA. A student who is 19 or older or an emancipated minor also could decline.

After four hours of select file debate, Murman filed a motion to invoke cloture, which ends debate and forces a vote on the bill and any pending amendments.

The motion succeeded on a vote of 42-1. Thirty-three votes were needed.

Lawmakers then voted 39-4 to advance LB705 to final reading.

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