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December 2, 2021 | District Leaders Highlight Legislative Priorities for 2022

Posted December 2,. 2021

Westside Community Schools
Legislative Priorities for the 2022 Legislative Session

BACKGROUND:

  • Westside Community Schools has approximately 6,100 students enrolled this school year.

    • 35% of Westside’s enrollment qualifies for free or reduced priced meals; 33% of enrollment lives outside of district boundaries; 14% of students qualify for special education services.

    •  Our 2021-22 budget is $85.7 million.

  • During the 2020-21 budget year, just over 60% of our total revenue came from local property taxes. (The national average is approximately 30%).

  • Nebraska ranks 19th in the country in per pupil spending.

    • Nebraska ranks #2 in the country in percentage of school district spending that stays in the classroom.

 

LEGISLATIVE POSITIONS: 

WESTSIDE COMMUNITY SCHOOLS SUPPORTS THE CURRENT SCHOOL DISTRICT BOUNDARIES AND PROCESS.

  • K-12 education in the Metro area is already competitive because there are many strong school districts providing plenty of choice.

  • Smaller school districts increase local control for area residents.

  • Local control allows school districts to ensure neighborhood schools and tailored learning models for its students.

  • Current law already provides a voluntary process among locally elected school boards to consolidate if desired.

 

WESTSIDE COMMUNITY SCHOOLS SUPPORTS A SCHOOL FINANCE MODEL THAT IS PREDICTABLE AND SUSTAINABLE WIITHOUT LIMITING THE CURRENT LEVY AUTHORITY.

  • Nebraska ranks 49th (next to last) in the country in percentage of state funding for funding K-12 education.

  • Westside supports efforts to bring more state funding to the K-12 state aid formula.

  • The Legislature often changes the state formula annually to adapt to the state fiscal

    outlook. This leads to school district budget unpredictability.

  • Budget unpredictability undermines a school district’s ability for long-term planning.

 

WESTSIDE COMMUNITY SCHOOLS SUPPORTS THE CURRENT NET OPTION ASPECT IN THE STATE'S NET FORMULA

  • Net option funding is critical for Westside to educate all students desiring to attend Westside Community Schools.

  • Host districts of net option students do not receive the benefit of the property tax authority associated with those students.

  • Net option funding allows students many choices of which school to attend – without net option funding, students would lose that choice.

 

WESTSIDE COMMUNITY SCHOOLS OPPOSES FUNDING TO ANY ENTITIES NOT SUBJECT TO THE SAME ACCOUNTABILITY AND STANDARDS AS NEBRASKA PUBLIC SCHOOLS.

  •  

    State funding to Nebraska K-12 public schools is already at a low level.

  • Any new funding directed at K-12 education should go to the underfunded public education system.

  • The State should not seek to shrink the amount of dollars available for school funding, via tax credits or vouchers, to incentivize an alternative K-12 system that is not similarly accountable to the State as are public K-12 schools.

  • Any K-12 entity receiving public dollars, or benefitting from the state foregoing tax revenue, should be subject to the same requirements of public-school districts.

  • Students are already afforded school choice today because of the net option program.