“Supporting an Equitable Opportunity for All Nebraska Public School Students”
The fundamental purpose of the Greater Nebraska Schools Association (GNSA) is to provide unified support for a statewide finance system that equitably, efficiently, and effectively allocates state revenues to meet the diverse needs of Nebraska’s students, in particular, students served by public school districts with insufficient local resources.
A well-educated citizenry is essential to the future of Nebraska. If Nebraska is to provide all public school students with an equitable opportunity to become well-educated citizens, meeting or exceeding the academic standards established by the State Department of Education, maintaining adequate access to local resources and, where necessary, funding from the State’s General Fund for public schools must be a high priority. In particular, the State must financially assist public schools that lack sufficient local resources to provide students with an equitable educational opportunity. Shortchanging student learning is a bad idea in the short term but will carry serious consequences over the long term with respect to future state prosperity.
As all public school districts work hard to assure high levels of learning for all children, state-imposed fiscal limitations on schools continue to constrain and/or eliminate the capacity of property-poor school districts to meet the diverse learning needs of all students. These school districts simply cannot raise or have access to a sufficient amount of money to adequately fund appropriate actions to address the learning needs of their students.
Tax equity for taxpayers and an equitable educational opportunity for all students in Nebraska can be realized if both local and state resources are used properly and consistently with the relative wealth of each school district. A complex version of the simple formula “student needs minus local resources equals state aid” needs to be adhered to consistently and, generally, without exception. While the State is ultimately responsible for the public education of each student in Nebraska between statute-defined ages, taxpayers in all school districts need to carry a fair share of the educational investment. Efforts to artificially define a component of this formula or to introduce non-equalizing components within the formula should be resisted when fiscally possible to do so. In addition, Nebraska needs to remain committed to the funding of education. In the state of Nebraska, only a little over 30% of the funding for K-12 education comes from state sources. This level of contribution ranks Nebraska 49th nationally in the commitment to equitably fund education.
In addition, funds from all sources that have historically been available for public education need to be restored to their intended place and distributed through the equalization formula to provide state funding where it is most needed.
Finally, all public school districts must be allowed to spend all of the resources justified by the learning needs of the students they serve.
Key Expectations / Membership Criteria
- Commitment to mission and purpose of the GNSA.
- Member district agrees to inform, educate, and promote the mission and purpose among the GNSA membership as well as establish and share membership strategies and expectations with groups of interest (i.e. Governor, Education Committee, State Legislature members, NDE, interest groups, etc.).
- Membership commitment as evidenced by Board action.
- Districts petitioning for membership must take action to join GNSA at a BOE meeting to affirm and document commitment.
- Member district Superintendent must actively participate during the legislative session and throughout interim studies in order to promote GNSA mission and objectives as stipulated through initiatives of the collective membership. This includes, but is not limited to:
- Regular participation at GNSA meetings (75%).
- Providing legislative updates to GNSA membership as requested and willingness to provide written or oral testimony on GNSA legislative initiatives as requested by the membership.
- Presence in Legislature conducting individual outreach to senators including education committee and legislative district representatives in order to further the legislative initiatives identified by GNSA.
- Board Member presence and/or participation
- Establish designated board members and alternatives to attend and represent GNSA
- Commit to one or two meetings per session and attend remaining meetings through virtual connection
- Virtual connection being reserved for those districts with substantial travel
- Member districts agree to the elimination of surprises
- Superintendent must notify the membership if their district’s position differs from the GNSA position
- Member district must be in good standing in regards to membership dues and/or fees.
- No district is entitled to any privileges of membership until district has paid the required fees or arranged for payment of such fees as noted under article for obligations.
- The membership by majority vote has exclusive authority to waive fees and/or provide refunds upon a vote of majority.