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Superintendent Press Release March 3rd, 2023

Dear Cedar Bluffs Families,

I love public schools because we get the honor of accepting all students despite their differences. It doesn’t matter what academic background, socio-economic struggles, religious inclinations, or political affiliation - the public schools accept them all and proudly works to make a difference in the lives of all students.

Nebraska Legislation has for the past 5 years pushed to give public tax dollars to private K-12 schools and this year, they may have enough votes to succeed. Senator Linehan’s bill LB753 has 30 co-sponsors, and she only needs 33 to end debate and force a vote. If LB753 passes, it would provide a dollar for-dollar tax credit to individuals and businesses that contribute money to private school tuition – up to half that person or corporation's income tax liability or $1 million, a more lucrative incentive than the State offers for any other type of charitable giving, including churches, food banks, and cancer research. With Amendment 338, LB 753’s tax voucher program will be limited to $25 million a year for the first three years. However, after that the cost to Nebraska’s general fund is likely to reach the amendment’s annual cap of $100 million within the next decade. By 2034, the state will have lost more than $600 million in revenue to fund this program. LB 753’s cost increases not based on whether Nebraskans use the scholarships but whether savvy taxpayers take advantage of the tax credit, which benefits corporations and the wealthy but shifts the burden of funding critical programs and services to less affluent taxpayers. Governor Pillen has recently said that every kid deserves school choice, indicating his support of this bill. His own kids attended Columbus Scotus and he served on the Scotus Endowment Board. Proponents of school privatization promise the state will see a savings, this has not been realized in other states, where school privatization policies have expanded exponentially with major budgetary implications. Studies that claim to have found savings are based on assumptions about how many students left public schools - not on actual data. In reality, many – if not most – students who receive scholarships are already attending or would attend private schools without state aid, and the number of those who transfer is too nominal to have any impact on public schools’ expenses. LB 753 does not help all children. Despite their stated intent, scholarship tax credits do not promote equal educational opportunities, and they even subsidize discriminatory practices. Unlike public schools, whose doors are open to all, under LB 753, private schools can receive funds from scholarship-granting organizations while legally discriminating against students based on religion, sex, gender, identity, sexual orientation, disability, and other characteristics. Furthermore, LB 753 does not remove other barriers to private education. Scholarships may only cover a small percentage of tuition fees, and private schools are also not required to provide transportation or special education services. Taxpayers’ hard-earned dollars should not be used to support educational models that are not required to serve all children. LB 753 hurts public schools. Contrary to proponents’ claims, the dollars sent to private school scholarships would otherwise be tax dollars for public schools and other state priorities like public health and safety, affordable housing, and more. Nebraska already consistently ranks nearly last in the nation for state support of K-12 education and, as a result, has some of the highest property taxes in the country. Eager to provide property tax relief, some policymakers are imposing strict limits on public school districts’ ability to raise revenue locally. Legislators who care about kids must prioritize fully staffing and funding the K-12 public schools that serve nine out of ten kids in Nebraska by investing more in public education - not diverting millions of dollars to a system that benefit only the wealthy. LB 753 is unaccountable. Although private and parochial schools would receive public funding under LB 753, they are not held to the same accountability and reporting requirements as public schools, and the bill lays out only minimal academic standards for a school to be eligible to receive public dollars. In other states with tuition tax credits, there is little evidence that these scholarships improve educational outcome. The lack of oversight and accountability provisions in LB 753 will leave students, their families, and the state in a precarious position with no ability to gauge whether the funds are being used effectively or appropriately. (*Credit Open Sky & Stand for Schools) #Wildcat Pride!