Omaha Public Radio News
Wed January 18, 2012
Committee hears legislation cutting the size of Omaha Public Schools Board
By Katie Schubert
Omaha, NE – The Omaha Public Schools board is opposing two measures that would cut the size of school boards.
Senator Scott Lautenbaugh's bill had its first hearing in a Unicameral committee meeting Wednesday. In addition to cutting the board to five members from its current 12, the legislation would also pay board members $20,000 and limit them to two four-year terms.
During the Government Committee hearing, Senator Lautenbaugh told lawmakers the goal of his legislation is a more accountable, efficient board. He believes the size of the current board dilutes its influence and causes board members to vote as a group instead of as individuals.
OPS board attorney Elizabeth Eynon-Kokrda says a five-member board raises questions about effective representation. She says under such a system, three people could make the decisions on a $500 million school district budget impacting 50,000 students.
Senator Brenda Council's legislation would apply the principles of Senator Lautenbaugh's bill to all school districts in Nebraska. OPS board members voted 11-0 to oppose the concepts of both bills. Board member Justin Wayne was not in attendance.