Nebraska has a primarily student-based funding formula. It assigns a cost to the education of a student with no special needs or services, called a base amount, which varies from district to district in the state. (The base amount used in Nebraska varies from district to district.) The state then accounts for the additional cost of educating specific categories of students both through program-specific allocations and by applying multipliers to the base amount to generate supplemental funding for certain students.
The categories of students generating supplemental funding in Nebraska are low-income students, English language learners, and students in sparsely populated districts. Services for students with disabilities and students identified as gifted are funded through program-specific allocations.
Nebraska has a base funding amount that varies from district to district based on student enrollment numbers. Each district’s base funding is determined based on the average per-student expenditure amount across a comparison group of the twenty districts closest to it in size, as defined by their student enrollments.
This average becomes the district’s base amount, meaning an average student with no special needs or disadvantages would be funded at that level. (In calculating the average, the state excludes the two highest-spending and lowest-spending districts from the comparison group.)
However, for the purposes of calculating weighted additional funding for students in certain special-needs categories, a standard base amount is used. This amount was $10,080.26 in FY2016.
|Expected Local Share||
Nebraska expects school districts to contribute revenue to the funding of public schools. The amount each district is expected to raise for its education costs is based on its property values: each district is expected to contribute $10.00 for every thousand dollars of property wealth (subject to different assessment ratios for different classes of property) for the purpose of funding its schools.
Once the state calculates the total amount of funding necessary to educate students within a district, it subtracts the expected local contribution and provides the difference in the form of state education aid. However, school districts in Nebraska that choose to do so may raise less or more money locally than the expected amount, up to a maximum tax rate of $10.50 per thousand dollars of property wealth.
Nebraska provides a mixture of additional targeted adjustments and income tax rebates to school districts before providing state aid.
Nebraska does not differentiate funding based on students’ grade levels.
Nebraska provides increased funding for English language learners. It calculates the amount of supplemental funding to which each district is entitled using a multi-step formula; in brief, the state provides districts with a supplemental amount for each English language learner that is equal to approximately 25% of the statewide average general fund operating expenditures per student, with some adjustments.
Specifically, the state provides a Limited English Proficiency (LEP) Allowance to each district equal to a statewide average per-pupil spending figure ($10,080.26 in FY2016), multiplied by 25%, multiplied by (the number of LEP students + (LEP students – 3-year average of LEP students)). If the number of LEP students in a district is between 1 and 12, the formula is calculated as though there were 12 LEP students in the district.
However, if the district's actual expenditures are less than 117.65% of the allowance the district received for the most recently available complete data year (two years prior to the current year), the state adjusts its distribution.
Nebraska does not provide a standard, higher level of funding for individual students from low-income households. However, increased funding is provided on a sliding scale based on the concentration of low-income students in the district. See “District Poverty” for a description of this allocation.
Nebraska funds special education using a partial reimbursement system, in which districts report their special education expenses to the state and receive reimbursement for a portion of those expenses.
Districts are required to report all the costs associated with educating special education students; these costs are then converted into a per-pupil figure. Separately, a full-time equivalent special education enrollment figure is calculated by totaling the proportions of aggregate time each child receives special education and related services during the regular school day. After this enrollment is multiplied by the per-pupil cost amount, the general education instructional costs associated with these students are subtracted, leaving the costs of providing special education instruction and services. It is to this amount that the percentage reimbursement is applied. The reimbursement rate is set based on the amount of funds appropriated for the purpose; the rate for FY2016 is estimated at 54%.
Separately, the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services is responsible for the costs of educating wards of the state or court who have been placed outside their district of residence, including special education costs.
92 NAC 51-01.0-11.04 and 92 NAC 51-01.0-11.06
Nebraska provides additional funds for gifted students. It does so through a grant distributed outside the state’s main education funding formula.
In FY2016, the state set aside a total of $2.3 million to fund programs for these students. This money is raised through the Nebraska Lottery.
|Career and Technical Education||
Nebraska does not provide specific funding for career and technical education programs.
Nebraska provides increased funding to certain districts based on the concentrations of students from low-income households that they serve. It does so by providing supplemental funding to all districts where low-income students exceed 5% of the district population, in an amount that depends on the district’s concentration of such students.
The precise amount is calculated based on a multi-step formula that incorporates a statewide average per-pupil spending figure. For the purposes of this allocation, the concentration of low-income students is calculated as the proportion of students who are eligible for free lunch under the national school lunch program, or the proportion of school system enrollment matching the proportion of local children under nineteen from families whose income is such that, if they were a family of four, their children would be free lunch eligible, whichever is greater.
However, if actual expenditures are less than 117.65% of the allowance the district received for the most recently available complete data year (two years prior to the current year), the state adjusts its distribution.
|Sparsity and/or Small Size||
Nebraska provides increased funding for certain schools in sparse districts and for small schools. For districts with elementary schools that are remote from one another, a supplemental allowance is calculated for all eligible students. For small schools, an adjustment is made to the base amount of per-student funding.
In elementary schools that are at least 7 miles from the nearest other district elementary school, or in schools that are the only elementary schools in their districts, pupils generate an allocation that is equal to 500% of the statewide average per-pupil spending amount, multiplied by the district’s total student membership and then divided by 8.
Small schools—those with fewer than 900 students—receive an adjustment to their total appropriation rather than to the per-pupil funding level. In order to receive 100% of the total appropriation adjustment, local municipalities must have a local tax rate of $10.00 per thousand dollars of property value; municipalities with lower tax rates receive less state funding on a graduated deduction basis.
Funded: State Policy Analysis
A Detailed Look at Each State's Funding Policies
Below, see summaries of the state’s education funding policy in each issue area. Click the Expand icon next to any summary to see more detail, if available, about that state’s policy regarding that issue area. Click the Citation iconnext to any summary to see the sources of the information regarding that issue area.