Nebraska Senators Debate Bill to Reduce OPS School Board
LB 125 would decrease board from 12 to 9
Lincoln, NE - Senators weighed in today on whether the Omaha Public Schools School Board should be reduced from 12 down to nine.
After a lengthy debate, state lawmakers voted 37-4 in favor of the bill.
Senator Scott Lautenbaugh introduced LB 125. It reduces the school board size and changes school board elections to coincide with city elections in the spring.
In Lincoln today, Lautenbaugh said there have been multiple issues with OPS over the years and members of the Legislature are the only ones who make changes to the board.
He said the OPS School Board is not comparable to other districts around the nation which typically have five or seven members.
"If you reduce the board to nine, you still have representation on the board," said Chambers.
Senator Ernie Chambers from District 11 in Omaha was also very outspoken at today's debate saying he doesn't know why or how 12 members were ever settled upon.
"If you got rid of three members, if 12 lets say were all incompetent, you would reduce the incompetency by three," said Chambers.
Chambers also said he would like someone to show him whether the 12 current members have created a result that is acceptable.
Some others who spoke out today in support of the bill include Senator Scott Price from District 3 in Bellevue, Senator Pete Pirsch from District 4 in Omaha, and Senator Jeremy Nordquist from District 7 in Omaha.
Lautenbaugh said he has had a lot of support from fellow Senators and parents who ask why it's taken so long to do something about the size of the board.
Just a few Senators were not in favor of reducing the OPS School Board. They include Senator Norman Wallman of Cortland and Senator Russ Karpisek.
They questioned whether it would impact academic achievement in Omaha.
The details are still being worked out on a map that would draw up nine new districts.
The bill still needs a few more votes and the Governor's approval before it goes to a special election.