Published: January 6, 2005
Nebraska, like many other states, is battling a lawsuit that challenges its school finance system. Douglas County School District v. Johanns, filed in June 2003, contends that the state is not providing Nebraska schoolchildren with an adequate education. Nebraska categorizes its current school finance formula as “equalization aid.” To distribute aid, the state calculates each district’s needs and subtracts its resources. The calculated-needs portion of the formula is based on a weighted-student formula; enrollment is weighted for the number of English-language learners, students in poverty, and students living on American Indian lands. The state also incorporates adjustments for geographic isolation and small schools into the formula. The weighted student enrollment is multiplied by a dollar amount for one of three cost groupings: very sparse, $7,497; sparse, $6,501; and standard, $5,347, for fiscal 2005. The calculated-resources portion of the formula is the sum of the yield from a local property tax and other revenues available to school districts. A minimum local effort is not required for districts to receive state aid, but the state assumes districts will raise 95 cents per $100 of adjusted valuation and adjusts state aid accordingly.
Vol. 24, Issue 17, Page 68