State Board of Education
The State Board of Education is an elected, constitutional body that sets policy and ensures that the State Department of Education functions effectively within the framework developed by the state Legislature and the board. By law, the board and the department have broad leadership functions to carry out certain regulatory and service activities.
Statewide oversight of education in Nebraska began in February 1869 when the Legislature created the office of the state superintendent of public instruction. The office was included in the constitution of 1875. In 1917, the Legislature decided to place the state superintendent on a non-partisan basis. In 1920, the constitution was changed to have the superintendent serve a four-year term beginning in 1923.
A 1952 constitutional amendment established a State Department of Education, which acts under the authority of the State Board of Education. The role of state superintendent of public instruction was transferred to the Board of Education or the commissioner of education effective in January 1955.
The 1967 Legislature divided the state into eight districts, and the membership of the State Board of Education was increased from six to eight members effective January 1969. The districts were realigned by the 2011 Legislature.
The board is elected on a non-partisan ballot, with one member from each district. Board members serve four-year terms. Board members are not paid, but are reimbursed for their expenses.
Public Participation at State Board of Education Meetings
According to State Board Policy B12, the published agenda of every regular meeting of the State Board shall contain an item identified as Public Comment Period. This period may be available to any person who wishes to address the State Board on any subject within its authority.
Each individual speaking to the Board will be required to complete a “Sign-in” card to identify him or herself. Persons speaking to the Board during Public Comment may hand out printed materials to the Board but may not use any other forms of media. Each person may address the Board for up to five minutes.
Any citizen or spokesperson for a group of citizens may request a 10 minute appearance before the State Board of Education at any regular meeting or work session of the Board except when the Board declares itself to be in executive session, and may address the Board, provided a request for such address has been made to the Commissioner of Education or Board members in writing at least three days in advance of the meeting in order to permit such appearance to be placed on the published agenda.
If at any time persons appearing before the Board exceed the time limitations set forth in this Policy or on the agenda or become abusive in language or behavior, it shall be the responsibility of the President to declare that person out of order and to refuse permission to continue to address the Board. Anyone refusing to be identified will be prohibited from speaking.