By John Crabtree, firstname.lastname@example.org
On November 14th, Lancaster County District Judge Paul Merritt issued a temporary order suspending a state law passed in the last legislative session that would have required all elementary-only schools to merge with larger districts. Nebraska has 206 elementary-only school districts, with many located in the most rural parts of the state.
The judge’s temporary order suspending forced Class I district mergers must be made permanent by the end of the month. Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning, could appeal the order, potentially lifting the injunction until the Nebraska Supreme Court has the opportunity to rule on the case.
The State School Reorganization Committee would be obliged to begin carrying out the law if the injunction were lifted, according to Committee Chair Kendall Mosely. “If the committee is free to go ahead and do what it’s charged to do, we will,” Mosely said.
If the schools are dissolved as current law requires in June 2006, over 4 months before the vote, “a fair opportunity to vote in a meaningful manner will not be available,” Judge Merritt ruled.
Once the Class I districts are dissolved; court decisions and election results will likely be unable to reverse the process. If dissolution of Class I schools is delayed until after November 2006, the schools will still be there and will be subject to the law and the will of the people. If dissolution proceeds, the people will lose their voice in the matter. Let the people decide.
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Center for Rural Affairs
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