Pawnee City Says Inaction Could Trigger School Funding Lawsuit

 

PAWNEE CITY – The Pawnee City School Board statement says legislative inaction could trigger lawsuit against Nebraska for school funding.

The board joined Nebraskans United for Property Tax Reform in a statement Thursday that says Nebraska has a school funding problem, rather than a school spending problem.

The statement says state funding for K-12 schools is below the national average.

In Pawnee City, state aid has fallen from 42 percent of the budget in 2008 to 12 percent last year.

The school reports an increase of educational expenses of 1.9 percent over the past decade. The special education expenses have increased by 11 percent, however, while state funding for special education has been cut in half.

School officials say a ballot initiative next November or a lawsuit against the state may be pursued if the state Legislature fails to address school funding this winter.

The statement lists main points of a potential lawsuit, including the stance that property tax is not a fair system for funding schools because tax levies vary from district to district.

Here are other points

  • The Nebraska State Constitution requires that the State provide a free and public education to all persons between the ages of 5-21 years.
  • While the State can delegate the duty for providing the education to school districts, by doing so, it cannot avoid the obligation to finance the free and public education guaranteed by the State with a local tax that does not provide substantially equal revenues for each district.
  • Students are denied equal protection in their right to a free and public education across the State and school districts are treated differently and are denied equal protection by current legal funding mechanisms.
  • Property owners are also compromised by the property tax methods used to finance public education because this financing scheme, which produces widely varied mill levels from district to district, prevents statewide uniformity and proportionality in the imposition of property taxes.

 

The statement says  legal action will be strongly considered without evidence of meaningful change as the 2018 legislative session moves forward.

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