Center for Rural Affairs Endorses Rural Schools Petitions
LYONS – The Center for Rural Affairs announced their support for two citizen initiative petition drives organizing in response to the passage of LB 126, legislation from the 2005 session that would mandate the merger of elementary-only Class I schools into K-12 school districts.
“LB 126 is the first step toward massive, forced consolidation of rural schools in Nebraska. LB 126 was intended to be punitive and it was intended to pressure smaller school districts into consolidation and closure,” said Jon Bailey, Rural Research and Analysis Program Director at the Center for Rural Affairs. “Local citizens and their elected school board members are best able to decide when and if their school district should consolidate,” Bailey added.
The Center for Rural Affairs points to recent budget legislation, portions of LB 126, and pending reforms to the school finance formula as examples of the Legislature attempting to establish a minimum school size and force consolidation of rural schools.
The first citizen initiative seeks to place the repeal of LB 126 on the 2006 general election ballot. The second petition seeks to place a constitutional amendment on the ballot that would require school consolidations be approved by a majority of voters in each affected school district.
“The Center for Rural Affairs has a long history with the use of ballot initiatives to protect rural communities, and the importance of schools to rural communities makes a vote of the people on the issue of school consolidation essential. The Center will assist the effort in whatever ways we can,” said Bailey.