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Background

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.