Legislative Updates

NSEA Legislative Update - Jan. 17, 2017

In This Message:

  1. ACTION ITEM:  Master Teacher Program Targeted for Elimination
  2. Bill Introductions Continue
  3. Committee Hearings Begin
  4. Save the Date: NSEA Legislative Dinner is Feb. 22.

 

ACTION ITEM: Master Teacher Program Targeted for Elimination

The budget proposed by Gov. Ricketts has taken aim at the lone state-funded program to enhance teacher professionalism.

The governor’s proposed deficit budget package (LB22, page 94, lines 16-19) includes immediate elimination of the Master Teacher Program funds, including the $470,000 nearly 100 teachers enrolled in the program are counting on yet this budget year.

If this recommendation is implemented, the $5,000 stipends scheduled for Spring, 2017 will NOT be available for National Board Certified Teachers (NBCT).

The Master Teacher Program is the only remaining state government program that directly promotes enhanced professionalism of teachers in the classroom. It helps educators pay for National Board Certification training and also pays stipends (up to $5,000, depending on the funds available to teachers who have achieved certification. It benefits teachers statewide, as the funds are available to educators in both equalized and non-equalized school districts.

Further, Hastings Sen. Steve Halloran has also introduced LB214, which would terminate the Master Teacher program on July 1. Senators Briese, Erdman, Groene and Lowe have signed on as co-introducers.

Currently, teachers across the state may achieve master teacher status by earning credentials from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards.  To be National Board Certified, a teacher can complete the program in segments over a three-year period at a cost of about $1,900.  National Board certification is designed to be the “Gold Standard” in teacher certification.  It is similar to a “Board Certified” doctor and is open to any teacher in their third year of teaching or beyond.

The loss of funding will have direct financial effect on those teachers still in the process of achieving certification. They have already paid their fees for the modules and are anticipating receiving reimbursement for those fees yet this year.

LB22 is scheduled for hearing today, Tuesday, Jan. 17th at 3:30 p.m., before the Appropriations Committee.

 

ACTION NEEDED:  NSEA encourages you to email, write or call your individual state senator, and also email the members of the Appropriations Committee to encourage them to maintain the promised funding.  Here are the Appropriations Committee contacts:

Sen. John Stinner, Chair               jstinner@leg.ne.gov

Sen. Kate Bolz                                 kbolz@leg.ne.gov

Sen. Robert Hilkemann                  rhilkemann@leg.ne.gov

Sen. Bill Kintner                               bkintner@leg.ne.gov

Sen. John Kuehn                            jkuehn@leg.ne.gov

Sen. Mike McDonnell                     mmcdonnell@leg.ne.gov

Sen. Tony Vargas                            tvargas@leg.ne.gov

Sen. Dan Watermeier                     dwatermeier@leg.ne.gov

Sen. Anna Wishart                          awishart@leg.ne.gov

 

Bill Introductions Continue

Bill introductions continue through Wednesday, Jan. 18, the 10th day of the session. NSEA’s lobby team continues to review all bills and, with guidance from NSEA Resolutions, will take positions on bills affecting educators. For a list of all introduced bills and resolutions, click here.

 

Committee Hearings Begin

Unless otherwise noted, hearings begin at 1:30 p.m. and are live-streamed via NET and can be accessed online by clicking here. For a list of committee chairs and members, click here.

 

Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017

Education Committee – Room 1525 (1:30 pm)

LB62 (Scheer) Eliminate prohibition on teachers wearing religious garb

NSEA Position: Support

Removes the prohibition on public school teachers wearing religious dress or garb while employed by a public school district. Under current law, a public school teacher wearing any religious dress or garb in the performance of their duties, could be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor, fined one-hundred dollars including prosecution costs, and be committed to a county jail for thirty days. the teacher could also be suspended from school employment for the term of one year. In the case of a second offense, the teacher could also be permanently disqualified from teaching in such school.

 

LB119 (Groene) Change dates related to certifications and distributions of state aid to schools

NSEA Position: Oppose

Delays aid and budget certifications for the state aid school formula, from March 1 to June 1 for 2017. Introduction of the bill Implies that there may be state aid formula changes to accomplish proposed TEEOSA funding changes this legislative session. A certification date change could negatively impact local school district contract negotiations by creating a delay of the certified state aid amount.

 

Appropriations Committee – Room 1524 (3:30 pm)

LB22 (Scheer) Provide, change, and eliminate provisions relating to appropriations and reduce approp.

NSEA Position: Oppose

Deficit Appropriation bill includes an immediate cut of the Master Teacher Program funds $470,000 (on page 94, lines 16-19) from the Nebraska Department of Education’s budget for fiscal year 2016-17. The Master Teacher Program directly promotes enhanced professionalism of teachers in the classroom, by helping educators pay for National Board Certification training and paying stipends (up to $5,000 depending on availability of funds) to teachers who have achieved such certification.

 

Thursday, Jan. 19, 2017

Retirement Committee – Room 1525 (12:00 pm)

LB29 (Kolterman) Eliminate the Class V School Employees Retirement Cash Fund

NSEA Position: Neutral

Eliminates an obsolete cash fund in state statute. The bill cleans up a provision that should have been removed last year after the adoption of LB 448 (2016), transferring investment authority from the Omaha School Employees Retirement System to the Nebraska Investment Council, the entity that also manages funds for the Nebraska School Employees Retirement System.

 

Save the Date: NSEA Legislative Dinner is Feb. 22

Members are encouraged to attend the NSEA Legislative Dinner at the Nebraska Champion's Club in Lincoln on Wednesday, Feb. 22.  A reception will be held from 5-6 p.m., with dinner at 6 p.m.  For more information, contact Cathy Schapmann (cathy.schapmann@nsea.org) or Jan Anderson (jan.anderson@nsea.org).