OPS Members React to Shrinking Board
New districts and law means all members will have to run for re-election.Photo: Video by kmtv.com
CREATED Feb. 11, 2013
OMAHA, Neb - A new Nebraska law will shrink the Omaha Public Schools board and force new elections in the wake of controversies that have plagued the district.
Gov. Dave Heineman signed LB125 Monday.
The bill by Sen. Scott Lautenbaugh of Omaha will shrink the board from 12 members to nine, and draw new district boundaries.
"No one was out to get the new board members who were just elected it was just unfortunate that it played out the way it did," Lautenbaugh said.
It also will force all nine board members to appear on the ballot during Omaha's city elections in May. In future years, board members will be elected during statewide general elections.
"Eight months of campaigning. I raised and spent $8,500. There are a lot of volunteer hours and people going door to door. It's frustrating it's being wiped out,"Jennifer Tompkins Kirshenbaum, a new member said. She and three other members have only served for about five weeks.
KMTV reached out to all board members to see if they plan to run this spring. Barbara Velázquez, who's served for three years, responded with no comment. Marian Fey, Nancy Kratky, and Justin Wayne, all long time members, say they plan to run. New members Sarah Brumfield and Tompkins Kirshenbaum will also run. New member Nicole Nash says she hasn't decided yet. The five remaining members did not respond.
Omaha is Nebraska's largest school district with 46,000 students. It has faced criticism after four new members and two who were re-elected missed a crucial deadline to take their oath of office.