There has been a movement underfoot in Nebraska to require small elementary schools to merge with larger districts. Yesterday a Judge rulled in favor of plaintiffs seeking to prevent the new law from taking effect.
A state law requiring all elementary-only schools to merge with larger districts was put on hold by a judge Monday, keeping alive hopes that the consolidation law will be overturned by voters next year.
Even if voters don’t repeal the law, at the very least the Legislature will have to rewrite it to set new deadlines, said Sen. Ron Raikes of Lincoln, the chief backer of the law.
“I’m just very disappointed,” Raikes said.
Note that the “chief backer of the law” is a legislator from Lincoln, the second largest city in the state.
If the schools are dissolved as current law requires in June 2006, “a fair opportunity to vote in a meaningful manner will not be available,” Lancaster County District Judge Paul Merritt Jr. ruled.
Merritt’s granting of a temporary injunction means that the law is suspended and the mergers cannot move ahead. Unless his decision is overturned, the schools can remain open at least until voters get a chance in November 2006 to decide whether to throw out the merger law.
“There’s no doubt in my mind that we’ll win at the ballot box,” said Mike Nolles, president of Class I’s United, a group that supports the elementary-only schools. […]
This year there are 206 elementary-only schools in Nebraska, many of which are in the most rural parts of the state. Supporters of the schools fought the law, saying they should be able to determine their own fate and not be forced to merge.
Law proponents argue that having K-12 districts statewide will save money and provide a more equitable education to all students.
The Nebraska based Center for Rural Affairs has issued multiple studies that seek to show such claims are untenable.