Education package clears final round

Lawmakers gave final approval April 11 to an omnibus education proposal.

Sen. Lynne Walz
Sen. Lynne Walz

LB1284, introduced by Fremont Sen. Lynne Walz, provides funding and resources to implement the provisions of the Computer Science and Technology Education Act, which the Legislature passed in 2022.

The bill requires the state Department of Education to employ or contract with computer science specialists to develop and deliver computer science educator training for teachers. The training will be accessible to all teachers in the state, including those seeking supplemental computer science certification.

LB1284 also establishes the Computer Science and Technology Education Fund, which the department will administer. Walz offered an amendment during select file debate April 9, adopted 39-0, under which the fund will receive $1 million from the Education Future Fund by June 30, 2025, and $500,000 annually if matching private funds are raised.

Additionally, the amendment narrowed the bill by removing provisions of Walz’s LB1285, which would have provided scholarships and loans to individuals who work as direct support professionals to become teachers certified in special education.

Provisions of Lincoln Sen. George Dungan’s LB964 also were removed by the amendment. Those provisions would have adopted the Special Education Teacher Forgivable Loan Program Act. Instead of providing forgivable loans, the amendment extends eligibility for the Nebraska Career Scholarship to University of Nebraska students studying special education.

Finally, provisions from a number of measures included in LB1284 were removed or adjusted by the amendment to lower the bill’s cost. Funds for Elkhorn Sen. Lou Ann Linehan’s LB1253, which provides grants for dyslexia research, were reduced from $1 million to $500,000 in fiscal year 2025-26. Funding for Linehan’s LB1254, which funds reading improvement mentorship programs, also was reduced from $10 million to $1.8 million in FY2025-26.

Other measures included in the bill are:
● LB985, introduced by Linehan, which clarifies that eligibility for the Nebraska Teacher Recruitment and Retention Act also requires that an applicant teach in the area of their high-need certification;
● LB986, also introduced by Linehan, which amends the Teach in Nebraska Today Act to increase the maximum grant total awarded each year from $5 million to $10 million;
● LB1005, introduced by Walz, which provides technical changes to carry out provisions of a 2023 Education Committee omnibus bill;
● LB1014, also introduced by Walz, which reimburses school districts and educational service units for the cost of contracting with outside agencies to cover required services of school psychologists; and
● LB1050, introduced by Lincoln Sen. Danielle Conrad, which creates a pilot program administered by the state Department of Education to provide school districts with free menstrual products in FY2025-26.

LB1284 passed on a 42-0 vote and takes effect immediately.

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