Omaha District Won’t be Split Into 3 Sections

Published: May 28, 2007

LINCOLN, Neb. – Nebraska’s Gov. Dave Heineman has repealed the break-up of the Omaha school district.

The plan was controversial because it would have split the district into three parts, mostly along racial lines.

Heineman’s office released the following statement regarding his signing of the bill on May 24:

Gov. Heineman Signs Learning Community Bill into Law

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Gov. Dave Heineman signed legislation into law this afternoon updating state statutes on learning communities in the state of Nebraska. LB 641 was developed in an effort to resolve educational and boundary issues among several school districts in the Omaha metropolitan area.

The bill repeals portions of LB 1024, passed during the 2006 legislative session, which called for the division of the state’s largest school district, Omaha Public Schools, into three smaller school districts.

“In trying to determine whether or not to sign LB 641, the overriding factor for me was to find a way to put the focus back on our students and the education our schools provide,” Gov. Heineman said. “For nearly two years now, the leaders of Omaha metropolitan school districts have focused their time and energy on legislation and lawsuits in lieu of our children’s education. It is now time to come together to rededicate ourselves to the education of our children. Improving student achievement and closing the academic achievement gap that exists in many of our schools should be our priority going forward.”

LB 641 creates the opportunity for school districts in Nebraska’s metropolitan area to form a learning community administered by a coordinating council. The Omaha learning community will involve the 11 school districts in Douglas and Sarpy counties.

The bill requires the learning community to be created in January 2009, following the election of coordinating council members allowing for the full implementation of LB 641 during the 2009-10 school year.

The learning community will be governed by an 18-member council selected from six new election districts. Voters will elect 12 members. The remaining members will be appointed by existing school boards. LB 641 provides for $500,000 in state funds for costs associated with establishing the learning community and $1 million annually for per-diem payments to council members and staff.

The bill promotes opportunities for increased diversity and helps individual school districts address achievement gap issues.

LB 641 provides for greater classroom diversity by giving first priority for school transfers to students improving the socioeconomic diversity of the school they wish to attend. It also provides additional funding for expanded summer school programs and the establishment of educational learning centers in low-income areas.

“Today, I am signing LB 641 into law so that leaders in the Omaha metropolitan area can immediately begin to refocus their attention on the education of our children,” Gov. Heineman said. “I hope that today is the start of a new era of collaboration and cooperation when it comes to what matters most; ensuring a positive future for the children of Nebraska.”

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