Governor Pete Ricketts proposes fully funding the state’s education funding formula and capping property tax increases.
A.J. Johnson, superintendent of the Hartington-Newcastle School District, says many rural schools across the state, including his, would see no gains from the formula.
“If it’s going to be the same formula, it really won’t affect our school at all because we are so far from meeting the requirements,” Johnson says. “I do know he’s also proposed some additional property tax relief or tax credits, that would help.”
The governor proposes a three-percent ceiling on property tax valuation increases, but Johnson says that doesn’t fix the true, underlying problem.
Johnson says, “My frustration with the governor is that he continues to put all the blame for property taxes onto school spending rather than take any blame for the fact that Nebraska is 49th in the nation for state aid to public schools.”
Johnson says a cap on property tax valuations could really impact their budget, especially if enrollment continues to grow.
“We had an influx of kids the last couple of years and we’ve had to split some classes,” Johnson says. “Because of that, our needs have gone up and to be put under a 3% lid in terms of what we can levy the next year, that would not be able to meet our needs.”
Johnson says the legislature needs to look at equalizing funding for all school districts statewide.
By Jerry Oster, WNAX, Yankton