The Nebraska State Board of Education (SBOE) meet March 2-3 in Lincoln. The meeting began with a presentation on the Nebraska Department of Education’s use of federal COVID relief funds.

Ninety percent of the funds were dispersed to individual school districts. The NDE focused the use of statewide funds on unfinished teaching and learning acceleration. The board will continue to hear updates on the impact of the funds. A complete report is available at under ESSER funds.

Teacher of year nominations

The board learned about the selection process for the Nebraska Teacher of the Year. Once nominated, a teacher can choose to pursue the opportunity by completing a detailed application which then goes to a selection committee composed of the current teacher of the year and one representative from the following: SBOE, NDE, and Nebraska State Education Association.

The committee looks for the person who best represents Nebraska’s teachers. I encourage everyone to visit and nominate a current classroom teacher for this opportunity.

Search for new commissioner

During our finance committee meeting, I expressed reservations about amending the contract with the consulting firm hired to assist in the commissioner search as an unnecessary expense. I requested the contract adjustments separate the expenses for the interview candidates from the payment for the consultants to attend the interviews.

I believe NDE staff could ensure the candidates’ needs are addressed and our board, comprised of a diversity of work and life experiences, is capable of conducting the interviews without the consulting firm’s assistance. The board is accountable to our fellow Nebraskans and I want to guard against any outside influence potentially affecting the decision.

Unfortunately, my motion was defeated. However, I will continue to monitor any attempts to influence our process or decision.

Competency test

The repeal of Rule 23 was discussed at the February board meeting and unanimously supported this month.

(Rule 23 requires teachers and administrators in Nebraska to pass a test of basic skills. – Editor)

Because teacher candidates are assessed in a variety of ways throughout their educator preparation, the board discussed that we will still have teachers who are experts in their content area.

Eliminating this requirement will help alleviate the teacher shortage as well as prevent border bleed since none of the states surrounding Nebraska have a testing requirement for certification. I, along with our board president and two NDE staff members, met with Gov. Jim Pillen to discuss the repeal. He was very receptive and I hope he will sign off on the repeal once it reaches his desk.

Finally, I will be attending the Nebraska Rural Community School Association conference on March 23 and look forward to meeting and hearing from rural administrators especially those leading schools within District 7.

Elizabeth Tegtmeier represents western Nebraska on the state board of education. The summary and opinions are hers and do not represent the board as a whole.

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