The public schools enroll 308,000 students: 69% White, 17% Latino, and 7% African American, with 45% living in poverty, and 5% learning English. The State spends $11,743 per pupil. (Most recent NCES data)
“The Legislature shall provide for the free instruction in the common schools of this state of all persons between the ages of five and twenty-one years.” Neb. Const. art. VII, § 1.
“All funds belonging to the state for common school purposes, including early childhood educational purposes operated by or distributed through the common schools…shall be deemed trust funds…and shall not be transferred to any other fund for other uses.” Neb. Const. art. VII, § 8.
“An early childhood education endowment fund shall be created for the purpose of supporting early childhood education in this state as provided by the Legislature…early childhood education means programs operated by or distributed through the common schools promoting development and learning for children from birth to kindergarten-entrance age.” Neb. Const. art. VII, § 9(3).
In 1932, in State ex rel. Public School Dist. No. 6 v. Taylor, the Nebraska Supreme Court held that a school that was in part sectarian was not eligible to receive State common school trust funds.
In 1993, in Gould v. Orr, the Nebraska Supreme Court dismissed the case because plaintiffs’ had presented an equity claim but had not alleged that unequal funding of schools affected the quality of the education students received.
In 2007, the Nebraska Supreme Court dismissed NCEEA v. Heineman , a school finance lawsuit based on the education provisions in the State constitution, holding that the case involved non-justiciable political questions.
In 2008, and on the eve of trial, plaintiffs in Douglas County School District v. Heineman, withdrew the case after the Legislature revised the school funding formula and enacted other legislation that addressed the concerns raised in the litigation, including the need for more equitable school funding and increased and improved programs and services for at-risk students.