Unicam Gives First-Round OK To Consider Pandemic In Adjusting State K-12 Aid

      The Nebraska Legislature has given 29-5 first-round approval to adjusting the school aid formula to take into account changes caused by the pandemic. 

       The bill lets school districts be reimburse for expenses such as summer schools, early childhood education, and transportation even if the classes were held virtually and no students were bused because buses were used to transport meals.

       It also delays any cuts in state aid because of drops in enrollment for a year to see if numbers go back up.

       Education Committee Chair Lynne Walz said the bill doesn’t give any new money, it simply makes sure districts get the money they were already certified to receive and had included in their budget. 

       North Platte Senator Mike Groene, the committee chair the last 2 years but defeated by Walz this year, said the schools don’t need all of this year’s state aid because they’re “rolling in” federal coronavirus stimulus funds at a time when costs are “way down” because of classes being taught virtually. 

        Nebraska Dept of Education spokesman David Jespersen says Groene is wrong because the federal CARES Act money can’t be used to replace state funding. He also says while districts didn’t have to spend as much on heating buildings, remote learning brought new expenses of its own.