School leaders prep agenda as lawmakers return

Rural schools are among the groups getting their legislative agendas ready for the 2009 session of the Nebraska legislature. Dr Scott Swisher, superintendent of the Hartington Public Schools, is legislative co-chair of the Nebraska Rural Community School Association.

He says they have some broad outlines, while the chief concerns are what will happen to state aid and the declining enrollment in rural Nebraska. Swisher says changes to property taxes could present some problems. Swisher says if the governor’s property tax relief act is kept intact, which accounts for 177-million dollars, the money will have to come from somewhere else, as he says forecasts show they’re 377-million short.

Swisher says there are some proposals that could change the structure of rural schools. They’ll be looking at the “learning community philosophy” in rural Nebraska, according to Swisher, like what’s already been done in Omaha, Ralston and other urban areas. Swisher says the learning community concept could be another path toward more consolidation. The group will meet later this month to finalize their list of legislative issues.

The Nebraska legislature goes back to work tomorrow.

Thanks to Jerry Oster, WNAX, Yankton