Nebraska's schools are growing. Kindergarten through 3rd grade classes are up 9 percent statewide. In Lincoln, it's up 19 percent. That means classrooms are filling up fast.
That's why Lincoln Senator Kate Bolz introduced a bill to reward schools with K-3 class sizes under 21 students.
"Lincoln Public Schools over the last couple years has grown by a whole elementary school and we are still putting those students in the same physical facilities." Sen. Kate Bolz said.
Her bill extends an allowance of state aid that was set to expire this year.
"Our school formula is really focused on making sure our kids have equitable experiences regardless of where they go to school. The formula tries to take into consideration different needs of different schools in different communities, but we are seeing shifting demographics," Sen. Kate Bolz said.
Bolz doesn't want classrooms with class sizes of 21 to 28 kids to miss out. Under her bill, those schools will still get the money if they have a qualified para educator in those classrooms.
"I think it's a smart innovation that is more cost effective than building more classroom buildings. I also think para educators have a wonderful skill set that can really contribute to the success of classrooms," Sen. Kate Bolz said
Bolz's bill essentially promotes smaller class sizes. It also tracks the number of students in each classroom, along with other information, something the department of education doesn't currently do.
That's why the Nebraska State Education Association strongly supports the bill.
"Class size is one of the most important aspects to student achievement," NSEA President Nancy Fulton said. "If you are successful in those grades, you benefit later."
The education committee will decide if this bill will be debated in the legislature floor.
To read the bill, click the link.