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Frequently Asked Questions

Assessment

What is the testing window for NCSAS General and Alternative Summative Assessment?
Are there make-up dates?

The Nebraska Student-Centered Assessment System (NSCAS) General and Alternate Summative Assessment test window is March 18 through May 3. The NSCAS General and Alternate Assessment Summative Assessment make-up test window is April 29 through May 3. For questions or concerns regarding Statewide Summative Assessment, contact Jeremy Heneger at 402-471-2495.

What is the test date and make-up date for the ACT?

The ACT paper/pencil test is April 2 and the ACT online testing window is April 2-11. The ACT paper/pencil make-up test is April 24.  The ACT accommodations paper/pencil testing window is April 2-16 and the ACT accommodations online test window is April 2-11.  For questions or concerns regarding Statewide Summative Assessment, contact Jeremy Heneger at 402-471-2495.

Attendance

What inter-district or inter-state student attendance arrangements does the state of Nebraska have?

By statute, a Nebraska school district may admit a Nebraska student who does not reside in the district and enroll them pursuant to a contract with the student’s resident Nebraska school district. A Nebraska school district may also admit and enroll a student that is a resident of another state by collecting tuition in advance at a rate determined by the Nebraska district’s board. 

Budget/Finance/Grant Reimbursement

What should our district do with insurance proceeds or FEMA/NEMA payments?

If the insurance proceeds or FEMA/NEMA payments are for damage done to buildings or facilities the proceeds should be deposited into the Special Building Fund. Proceeds related to classroom materials, busses, or other General Fund type expenses should be deposited in the General Fund. For additional questions regarding finance as it relates to emergencies, contact Bryce Wilson at 402-471-4320.

Can we exceed budgeted expenses as a result of the damage done to school facilities from flooding?

In the event of a disaster or emergency a school district or ESU may make emergency expenditures, enter into contracts, and incur obligations for emergency management purposes regardless of existing statutory limitations and requirements. Any amounts in excess of statutory limits or requirements must be approved by the Governing Board after receiving a proclamation provided for in Nebraska State Statute 81-829.50. Detailed documentation of all additional costs incurred as a result of the natural disaster should be kept. For additional questions regarding finance as it relates to emergencies, contact Bryce Wilson at 402-471-4320.

What coding should I use for expenses incurred as a result of the flooding?

While the Function Code will vary as to where the expense is recorded, object code 955 (Presidential Declared Disaster) should be utilized.  If the President does not declare this a natural disaster, object code 960 (Extraordinary Items) should be used for the various expenses caused by the recent flooding.  If you have questions, contact Bryce Wilson 402-471-4320 for more information. Additional object code descriptions can be found at: https://www.education.ne.gov/fos/annual-financial-report-school-district/201819-essa-financial-coding-information/.

How will the Nebraska Department of Education provide administrative relief and flexibility regarding grant reimbursement?

The Office of Budget and Grants Management is committed to working with Nebraska schools, districts, and ESUs to provide them with the maximum operational flexibility necessary to continue operations as they recover from extended school or program closures due to a disaster. The Nebraska Department of Education (NDE) has identified the following barriers which can impact the reimbursement for allowable grant expenditures during the recovery period from a disaster.

  • Documentation needed to support reimbursement of fund
  • Reporting deadlines
  • Cash Flow
  • Availability of electronic infrastructure to access reporting systems

To the greatest extent possible, the NDE will take steps to address, find administrative relief, and develop strategies on a case-by-case basis with regard to the impact, estimated recovery period, and flexibility within federal, state, and local regulations. We are committed to collaborating and expediting the work necessary, and encourage all affected parties to contact the NDE with any requests for assistance.   Contact Jen Utemark at jen.utemark@nebraska.gov or 402-471-3323.

Does the ESEA allow for any flexibility with respect to meeting maintenance of effort (MOE) without waiver approval?

Yes.  There is some flexibility in the MOE provisions in the ESEA per the U.S. Department of Education (September 2018) “Non-Regulatory Guidance on Flexibility and Waivers for Grantees and Program Participants Impacted by Federally Declared Disasters (for Academic School Year 2018-19).

It is important to understand the delay when the current year’s expenditures are taken into account for MOE determinations. For example, expenditures in school year 2017-2018 (fiscal year (FY) 2017 funds) will not affect MOE determinations until school year 2019-2020 (FY 2019 funds). In 2019-2020, the “preceding fiscal year” for MOE determinations will be expenditures for school year 2017-2018. Likewise, expenditures in school year 2017-2018 will be the “second preceding fiscal year” for MOE determinations for school year 2020-2021 (FY 2020 funds). Under the MOE provisions in section 8521(b)(2) of the ESEA, an LEA that does not maintain effort during school year 2017-2018 (i.e., based on expenditures during the July 1, 2017 to June 30, 2018 period) would not be penalized with a reduction in Federal FY 2019 (school year 2019-2020) ESEA funds unless the LEA also failed to maintain effort in one or more of the five fiscal years preceding July 1, 2017. If an LEA faces a reduction in FY 2019 ESEA funds, the LEA (or the SEA on the LEA’s behalf) may request an MOE waiver under section 8521(c)(1), which gives the Department the authority to waive the MOE requirements in the case of a natural disaster or another exceptional or uncontrollable circumstance.

Finally, we note that, under 34 CFR § 299.5(d)(2)(i), an SEA excludes from an ESEA MOE determination supplemental expenditures of state and local funds made as a result of a Presidentially-declared disaster. Therefore, if an LEA’s expenditures increase significantly in school year 2017-2018 due to increased spending in response to such a disaster, the SEA will exclude these expenditures from MOE calculations, which will decrease the possibility that a one-time increase in school year 2017-2018 expenditures will cause an LEA to fail to maintain effort in school year 2018-2019 (affecting allocations for the 2020-2021 school year) when expenditures from school year 2018-2019 are compared to school year 2017-2018 expenditures.

Data/Records

How can we make a request to submit data late or make changes to my data?

A request to submit data late or make data changes may be completed by public, nonpublic, ESU’s, state operated, interim, and postsecondary districts/systems that need to submit data or make changes to data after a collection due date or after a data audit window has been closed due to the recent flooding event. The “Request To Submit Data Late or Make Data Changes” collection is found in the Consolidated Data Collection (CDC) in the NDE Portal under the Data Collections tab. Users will need to have a General, All or District/System Admin user type for the CDC. For assistance with this process, please contact the NDE Helpdesk at 888-285-0556 or ADVISERhelp@nebraskacloud.org. For more information, visit https://cdc.education.ne.gov/APPEALS/Instructions/APPEALS_Instructions.pdf. For questions or concerns regarding data collection, contact Matt Hastings at 402-471-4483.

Early Childhood

What happens if our program does not meet minimum instructional hours due to flooding?

If a school district or ESU early childhood program is unable to operate the required minimum of 450 instructional hours as required in Rule 11 for the 2018-2019 school year, an Affidavit of School Closing will need to be submitted to the Nebraska Department of Education.  This Affidavit may be found here: https://cdn.education.ne.gov/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/AffidavitofSchoolClosure.rtf.pdf. Questions regarding early childhood programs can be directed to Melody Hobson at 402-471-0263.

What happens if our early childhood program needs to relocate due to flooding or weather?

If, due to flooding a district must combine or move preschool programs into an alternate space for the remainder of the year, please contact the Office of Early Childhood. For questions regarding Child/Staff Ratio, Group Size, Square Footage per Child, or any other Rule 11 requirements please contact Alyssa Anson at alyssa.anson@nebraska.gov, 402-471-0951 or Kim Texel at kim.texel@nebraska.gov, 402-471-4386.

How will my child’s IFSP or IEP be impacted due to weather?

For questions regarding Individualized Family Service Plans (IFSP) or Individualized Education Program (IEP) services, contact Amy Bunnell at amy.bunnell@nebraska.gov, 402-471-0817 or Kayla Parr at kayla.parr@nebraska.gov, 402-471-6695.

Does the Spring 2019 GOLD Checkpoint still need to be completed by May 31st for schools that were impacted by the flood/weather?

For questions regarding the Spring 2019 GOLD Checkpoint, please contact: Kayla Parr at kayla.parr@nebraska.gov, 402-471-6695 or Alyssa Anson at alyssa.anson@nebraska.gov, 402-471-0951.

ESSA/Federal Programs/Grants

Can our monitoring visit for ESSA Federal Programs be rescheduled for a different date or into next year?

Absolutely. Call or email the NDE Consultant that scheduled your monitoring review.

What happens if our district is not be able to meet the May 1 due date for consultation with nonpublic schools regarding ESEA Federal Program services for 2019-2020?

Contact Diane Stuehmer at diane.stuehmer@nebraska.gov or 402-471-1740) or Tim Vanderheiden at timothy.vanderheiden@nebraska.gov or 402-471-1749.

We cannot meet the April 1 due date for submitting the Title I school-wide plan for our building. What should we do?

Extensions for submitting the school-wide plans will be granted and those plans will be reviewed by NDE staff at a later date. Contact Beth Wooster at beth.wooster@nebraska.gov or 402-471-2452.

Our school is not able to submit the Title I school-wide self-review by the May 1 due date. What should we do?

Extensions for submitting the school-wide self-review will be granted, if appropriate. Contact Beth Wooster at beth.wooster@nebraska.gov or 402-471-2452.

Staff from our school are scheduled to participate in the Title I School-wide Peer Review, but our school is not in session. Whom should we contact?

Schools not in session and unable to participate will be excused.  Contact Beth Wooster at beth.wooster@nebraska.gov or 402-471-2452.

Average Daily Membership (ADM) and Average Daily Attendance (ADA) are used in calculating Title I Maintenance of Effort (MOE). How will our school not being in session affect this?

If needed, NDE will request a waiver from U.S. Department of Education for this compliance element.

Average Daily Attendance (ADA) calculates into the formula for 2020-2021 REAP SRSA grants. How will the extended days of not having school in session affect the funds for our district?

The purpose of the Small, Rural School Achievement (SRSA) program is to provide rural LEAs with financial assistance to fund initiatives aimed at improving student academic achievement. Local education agencies (LEAs) are entitled to funds if they meet basic eligibility and application requirements. Awards are issued annually, and award amounts are determined using the formula found here: https://www2.ed.gov/programs/reapsrsa/awards.html. NDE is currently in contact with the U.S. Department of Education to answer grant application specifics.

Food/Food Safety/School Meals

Many of our families have been displaced from their home by flooding. Are these students considered homeless? Are they eligible for free meals?

Children living in or evacuated from disaster areas may be determined homeless under the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act. Program regulations define a homeless child as “a child identified as lacking a fixed, regular and adequate nighttime residence.”  Consistent with current Program policy, this may also include children temporarily residing with another household.  These children are categorically eligible for free meals in the National School Lunch/Breakfast Program. For questions regarding school meals, contact Sharon L. Davis at 402-471-3559.

How long must a family be displaced in order to be considered homeless and be eligible to receive free meals?

If the student is displaced from their home there is no time requirement.  They can immediately be classified as homeless and due to that status they will be eligible for free school meals without filling out any Free/Reduced lunch paperwork.  Federal law indicates that students displaced by a natural disaster, even for a short period of time, this includes students who are “doubled-up” with friends or family because of the flood, can be verified as homeless. For questions regarding school meals, contact Sharon L. Davis at 402-471-3559.

What does the school need in order to provide free meals to these students?

Eligibility may be established through various methods:

  1. A list of all children determined homeless due to the disaster provided to the Local Education Agency by:
    1. The district’s homeless liaison;
    2. An organization assisting evacuees; OR
    3. A homeless shelter representative.
  2. An application indicating the child is homeless completed by:
    1. An adult living with the child; OR
    2. A school official.

For questions regarding school meals, contact Sharon L. Davis at 402-471-3559.

Can households that take in other family members displaced because of flooding receive meal benefits?

In situations where a household from a designated disaster area moves in with another household, the host family may submit a meal application that includes the displaced family members and any income provided to them when applying for free or reduced price meals.  The application is reviewed by school officials and eligibility determined for the host family based on the combined number of household members and income.  The students of the displaced family automatically qualifies for free meal benefits. For questions regarding school meals, contact Sharon L. Davis at 402-471-3559.

How long can affected students receive meal benefits?

Children certified for free or reduced price meal benefits because of a disaster maintain eligibility for the entire school year and up to 30 operating days in the next school year. For questions regarding school meals, contact Sharon L. Davis at 402-471-3559.

Our district is scheduled for an Administrative Review this school year, can this be postponed?

The State agency has the discretion to move an Administrative Review to a different year of the three-year cycle, provided the School Food Authority has a review within four years of its last Administrative Review.  Contact the Nebraska Department of Education Nutrition Services (NDE) if you would like to request a change.

Delivery and service of food has been impacted and the school may not receive items needed to meet meal pattern requirements. Will the district be reimbursed for the meals served?

If emergency conditions exist that prevents schools from obtaining fluid milk, the State agency may allow service of meals without milk or with an alternate form of milk, such as canned or dry milk.USDA Regional Office approval is needed in order for school meal programs to serve meals that do not meet the menu planning or meal pattern requirements in disaster situations. There fore, if changes to other meal component requirements are needed, schools should consult the Nebraska Department of Education Nutrition Services. Flexibility is allowed with regard to time of meal service and use of offer versus serve.  These modifications may be made with State agency approval. For questions regarding school meals, contact Sharon L. Davis at 402-471-3559.

Our school lunch records have been lost or damaged because of flooding. What will happen if the district no longer has documentation to support meal service?

When records for review purposes, such as paid claims, approved applications, and production records are destroyed, School Food Authorities should inform NDE of the circumstances, dates of the losses, and the types and approximate age of the records that were lost.  NDE will note the loss of records for the purpose of future administrative reviews and audits.

Contact information:

Nebraska Department of Education
Office of Nutrition Services
402-471-2488 or 800-731-2233
nde.nsweb@nebraska.gov

If a household is not homeless but receives Disaster Benefits from Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (D-SNAP), do they automatically qualify for free meals?

Yes, children in households receiving D-SNAP benefits are categorically eligible for free school meals. Certification of these children may be accomplished through direct contact with the SNAP agency or by an application submitted by a household with a case number. For questions regarding school meals contact the Office of Nutrition Services at 402-471-2488 or 800-731-2233.

Homeless (McKinney-Vento)

Are students who are displaced by a natural disaster covered by the McKinney-Vento Act?

Yes. Students who lack a fixed, regular and adequate primary nighttime residence due to a disaster (flood, fire, hurricane, tornado, etc.) are considered homeless under the McKinney-Vento Act. For questions about homelessness as related to weather emergencies, contact Cathy Mohnike at 402-471-1419.

What is the definition of “homeless” under the McKinney-Vento Act?

The term “homeless children and youth” is defined as individuals who lack a fixed, regular, and adequate primary nighttime residence; and includes: 1) children and youths who are sharing the housing of other persons due to loss of housing, economic hardship, or similar reason; are living in motels, hotels, inadequate trailers, or camping grounds due the lack of alternative accommodations; are living in emergency or transitional shelters; 2) children and youths who have a primary nighttime residence that is a public or private place not designed for or ordinarily used as a regular sleeping accommodation for human beings; 3) children and youths who are living in cars, parks, public spaces, abandoned buildings, substandard or inadequate housing, bus train or stations, or similar settings; and 4) migratory children who qualify as homeless for the purposes of this subtitle because the children are living in circumstances described in clauses (1) through (3).

The flooding has caused some students to be displaced which has necessitated finding other places for shelter and other basic needs. Federal law indicates that students displaced by a natural disaster, even for a short period of time, including those who have to “double-up” with friends and family because of the flood, can be verified as homeless under the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act. For questions about homelessness as related to weather emergencies, contact Cathy Mohnike at 402-471-1419.

Can students who are homeless receive free school meals without documenting income?

Yes. Any child identified as homeless by a McKinney-Vento liaison or shelter director is automatically eligible for free school meals. They do not have to complete an application. When a liaison or a shelter director provides a child’s name to the local school food service office, free school meals should commence immediately. For questions about homelessness as related to weather emergencies, contact Cathy Mohnike at 402-471-1419.

Can schools require verification or proof of residency?

No. Schools may not require verification or proof of residency as a condition of enrollment. 42 U.S.C. §11432(g)(3)(C). Due to their living situations, it frequently will be impossible for families and youth experiencing homelessness to provide such verification. Further, schools must not contact the landlords of host families or other authorities to discuss living arrangements. Residence information provided by parents or youth to schools is part of the student’s educational records and protected by federal privacy laws. Such contact could also lead to eviction of the host family. However, the Act does not prohibit schools from requiring parents, guardians, or youths to submit emergency contact information. 42 U.S.C. §11432(g)(3)(H); 20 U.S.C. §1232g. For questions about homelessness as related to weather emergencies, contact Cathy Mohnike at 402-471-1419.

What are the educational rights of children and youth experiencing homelessness?

  • The right to immediate enrollment in school, even if lacking paperwork normally required for enrollment.
  • The right to attend school in his/her school of origin (if this is requested by the parent and is feasible) or the school in the attendance area where the family or youth is currently residing.
  • The right to receive transportation to his/her school of origin, if this is requested by the parent.
  • Categorical eligibility for free school meals and Title IA services.
  • The right to services comparable to those received by household schoolmates, including transportation and supplemental educational services.
  • The right to attend school along with children not experiencing homelessness. Segregation based on a student’s status as homeless is strictly prohibited.
  • The posting of homeless students’ rights in all schools and other places around the community.

For questions about homelessness as related to weather emergencies, contact Cathy Mohnike at 402-471-1419.

What kind of services can Title I, Part A funds (including set-asides and other funds) pay for?

  • Title IA funds, including those under the set-aside and other funds, can be used to serve students experiencing homelessness in both Title IA and non-Title IA schools. The services should support the students to succeed in school and to meet academic achievement standards. The funds can be used to provide services that are not ordinarily provided to other Title IA students, including educationally related support services to children in shelters and other locations where they are living. 20 U.S.C. §6313(c)(3)(A). For example, to help students effectively take advantage of educational opportunities, and when the items or services are not available from other sources, Title IA funds can be used to provide: Items of clothing, particularly if necessary to meet a school’s dress or uniform requirement; clothing and shoes necessary to participate in physical education classes; • Student fees that are necessary to participate in the general education program; Personal school supplies such as backpacks and notebooks; Birth certificates necessary to enroll in school; • Immunizations; Food; Medical and dental services; Eyeglasses and hearing aids; Counseling services to address anxiety related to homelessness that is impeding learning; Outreach services to students living in shelters, motels, and other temporary residences; Extended learning time (before and after school, Saturday classes, summer school) to compensate for lack of quiet time for homework in shelters or other overcrowded living conditions; Tutoring services, especially in shelters or other locations where homeless students live; Parental involvement specifically oriented to reaching out to parents of homeless students; Fees for AP and IB testing; and Fees for SAT/ACT testing. For questions about homelessness as related to weather emergencies, contact Cathy Mohnike at 402-471-1419.

Legal Aid

Are legal aid resources available to low-income families who have survived the flood?

Legal Aid of Nebraska’s Disaster Relief Project offers free legal assistance for low-income survivors of Nebraska’s floods, through online resources and a network of trained volunteer lawyers across Nebraska. Survivors of Nebraska’s flooding can get free information at: www.disaster.legalaidofnebraska.org. Low-income Nebraskans can apply for direct legal representation at legalaidofnebraska.org/apply, or by calling the Disaster Relief Hotline at 1-844-268-5627.

Nebraska VR/Pre-Employment Transition Services

How will the flooding affect Pre-Employment Transition Services provided by Nebraska VR?

Nebraska VR will continue to partner with schools and communities to provide students job exploration counseling, workplace readiness training, work-based learning experiences, counseling on comprehensive transition or post-secondary educational programs, and instruction in self-advocacy as identified in the Transition Partnership Planning Form. For additional questions regarding Pre-Employment Transition Services contact Lindy Foley at 402-430-1689.

How can I replace the Nebraska VR Pre-Employment Transition Services printed materials I share with parents and students?

To view materials and search for the Transition Services Coordinator assigned to your school visit http://vr.nebraska.gov/students/for_schools.html. For additional questions regarding Pre-Employment Transition Services contact Lindy Foley at 402-430-1689.

Rules, Laws, and Compliance

What are the minimum required hours that a school must be in session and what happens if our school does not meet those hours due to flooding?

State law requires that schools be in session for a minimum of 450 hours (pre-kindergarten programs receiving state funds), 400 hours (kindergarten), 1032 hours (elementary/middle: K-8) and 1080 hours (secondary: 9- 12). If any school does not meet for the minimum required hours, then the district must submit one or both of the following document(s):

  1. Letter of Explanation – Submit this letter if a school or schools in your district do not meet the minimum number of hours due to the lack of students. Example: District 84 starts the school year with one 6th grader. The student is in school for the first semester (520 instructional hours), but the family moves at the beginning of the second semester. Report 520 hours in the grade elementary column and attach a letter of explanation as to why less than the minimum number of hours is being reported.
  2. Sworn Statement – 79-213 (R.R.S.) – If a school(s) closes for reasons specified in this statute (epidemic sickness, severe storm conditions, destruction of the school) and as a result does not meet the minimum number of hours, then a sworn statement by the secretary of the school board (under oath) must be submitted outlining the reasons why the minimum hours requirement was not met. The statement must be signed and notarized. A copy of the required statement (in affidavit form) can be found at https://cdn.education.ne.gov/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/AffidavitofSchoolClosure.rtf.pdf.

For questions regarding accreditation, contact Brad Dirksen at 402-471-2405.

How can we "make up" instructional hours that were missed due to flooding/weather events?

Every effort should be made by school districts to make up instructional hours missed because of sickness, severe weather, or other reasons. It may be necessary to amend the school calendar as the school year progresses. Missed time could be made up by: (1) having school during portions of planned vacation periods, (2) extending the school year, (3) lengthening some school days, and/or (4) providing school on Saturdays.

After using the alternatives listed above, if it is determined that the 450/400/1032/1080 instructional hours cannot be provided, an affidavit may be filed with the State Board of Education within 10 days of the conclusion of the school year. This process is provided for in Section 79-213, R.R.S. An Affidavit of School Closing form is available from the Nebraska Department of Education, Office of Accreditation, and School Improvement.

Nebraska State Department of Education staff members are willing to assist schools in meeting the required hours. Please contact the Office of Accountability, Accreditation, and Program Approval, Department of Education, Box 94987, Lincoln, NE 68509, 402-471-2444 or email nde.accreditation@nebraska.gov.

What are the requirements for our High School Master Calendar as it relates to the recent flooding?

Section 004.04A of Rule 10 requires that the “high school program consists of“  courses totaling 400 instructional units.  This calculation is based on your master calendar and school day – length of class periods.  We do not require schools to recalculate this in the event that days of school are canceled due to weather, etc.  It is determined on the basis of the master calendar you set at the beginning of the year and it remains at that calculated figure.  So as long as you can confirm that the ‘program’ you put together and offered to all kids in grades 9-12 meets this minimum of 400, and each minimum required by subject area, you are still OK.  There would be no violation issued due to a reduction in the actual days of school.

How are course credits impacted by the recent flooding/closure or schools?

No changes in Course Credits are necessary as a result of cancelation of school days.  As noted above, the number of Instructional Units that a course earns does not change once the master schedule and school calendar has been set.  Schools may award Course Credits at a value up to 125% of the number of Instructional Units each course earns.

Are we able to postpone our external review due to flooding/school closures?

Schools that are scheduled to host their five-year External Review during the spring of the 18/19 school year and due to severe weather or natural disasters are unable to host this visit are able to reschedule the visit up through the first two weeks of May (visits are usually completed by May 1st) or make a request to the Accreditation Section to postpone the review until the first semester of the 19/20 school year.

Special Education

Who do I contact about specific questions regarding Special Education services?

Questions around Early Intervention and Special Education services are to be directed to Amy Rhone, Assistant Director of the Office of Special Education at 402-471-4323.

Transportation/Busing

Can our district or school suspend busing?

Yes, but you will be required to pay reimbursement for students living more than four miles from school. Pick-up points can also be established if necessary. Parents would be reimbursed for the distance from their home to the pick-up point less three miles.  See the pupil transportation FAQ for more information: https://www.education.ne.gov/fos/pupil-transportation/frequently-asked-questions/.  See mileage reimbursement rates at: https://www.education.ne.gov/fos/reimbursement-rates/. For additional questions regarding transportation as it relates to emergencies, contact Bryce Wilson at 402-471-4320.

Updated April 2, 2019 8:03am