Legislature Day 3: Support OPS Reform

January 11, 2013

Today was the third day of the 2013 Unicameral and second day of bill introduction.  State Sen. Scott Lautenbaugh has generated a lot of attention with a proposal to shrink the OPS Board from 12 down to 9, as well as institutes term limits.

While AFP-Nebraska, as a free-market organization, really does not have a position on how many board members OPS should have – we strongly agree with Sen. Lautenbaugh that OPS needs reform.

OPS spends over $8,800 per student per year.

Don’t think that’s a lot of money? Consider UNL charges $7,600 per year for tuition. That’s right; OPS students could get a college-level education for less than what OPS bills taxpayers.

From the chart below (taken directly from the OPS website) you can see how the budget has grown by over $100 million in 7 years. In the same seven years the student population grew by 3,917 (8.4%), but the budget grew by a whopping 33.3%!

General Fund Budget 2004-2005 to 2010-2011
Adopted Budget
2004-2005: $356,045,982
2005-2006: $382,632,754
2006-2007: $398,474,053
2007-2008: $417,840,777
2008-2009: $446,432,088
2009-2010: $473,084,548
2010-2011: $474,797,347


And what is OPS spending the money on?

The OPS Superintendent makes almost 8 times more than the average Nebraska teacher.  Consider this chart of school administrator salaries:

Fillmore Central Public Schools – 143,804
Dundy County Stratton Public Schools – 175,393
Lincoln Public Schools – 267,394
Omaha Public Schools – 306,091
Average Nebraska Teacher – 39,456
Governor of Nebraska – 105,000

OPS spends $447 million of taxpayer money – with too much not making it to the classroom – and the result is a C. Something has to change because the status quo is appalling. OPS is too expensive and is underperforming.

Let’s be clear: there are many wonderful teachers and staff in OPS. A 73% graduation rate is indicative of a system-wide problem. That is why we are grateful Sen. Lautenbaugh is looking to system-wide changes.

OPS needs reform. Students and families deserve better. Teachers deserve better. Taxpayers deserve better. Councilman Gray is wrong to use racial politics to block change. Councilman Gray should be just as troubled as Sen. Lautenbaugh is by a 73% graduation rate.

We want a better OPS. We want students to succeed. We Stand with Scott.

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