There is a lot of misinformation and misunderstanding surrounding the Learning Community. Wondering if what you heard could be true? Find the facts here.
WRONG: “The Learning Community of Douglas and Sarpy Counties has unanimously passed a property tax increase on residents across the Omaha Metro area. The increase of half a cent per $100 of assessed valuation is meant to fund a $2.8 million annual early childhood education support program, which includes hiring 29 new staff members."
SOURCE: Adam Weinberg, Platte Institute news release. DATE: 08/15/2014
THE FACTS: The Learning Community did not vote to raise property taxes. It did agree unanimously to use reserve funds in the amount of $1.5M for the first year of the Superintendents' Early Childhood Plan. Based on the recommendation of the CEO and the Council's Budget and Finance Committee, there are no plans to increase any Learning Community levies for the coming 2014-2015 fiscal year. See where your tax dollars go.
WRONG: The Learning Community oversees the budgets and affairs of metro-area school districts. It's an extra layer of bureaucracy.
SOURCE: Nebraska Watchdog. DATE: 01/18/2013
THE FACTS: The truth is the Learning Community has no oversight role with local school districts and no involvement in school district budgets or spending decisions. The Learning Community is an educational subdivision charged with addressing student achievement, especially for students living in poverty. With a staff of five including the Chief Executive Officer, there is no bureaucracy within the Learning Community. The creation of this streamlined political entity came from bold action by the Nebraska Legislature to address the achievement gap.
An 18 member council, a mix of appointed and elected representatives, representing eleven member school districts meets monthly. The unpaid Council members put in substantial amounts of time to represent six subcouncil districts and the needs of the students in each. To fulfill its legislative mandate to meet the educational needs of students in poverty, the Learning Community leverages community partnerships and existing resources to maximize every dollar spent.
WRONG: "I don't see that we have a good return. I just don't see the results, and many school officials agree with me."
SOURCE: Sen. Jim Smith, Papillion Times. DATE: 01/16/2013
THE FACTS: The truth is there are many people in the metro area, like Senator Smith, who don't have current information about how the Learning Community is making a difference and our most recent results show significant impact. Our Achievement Track elementary programs in 8 school districts directly serve nearly 7,000 children, primarily from families affected by poverty. Independent evaluators found our programs exceeding Nebraska Department of Education quality rankings and delivering significant student benefit. See our results.
WRONG: "We're four years into this and it's been an awful lot of money taken from Sarpy County. And the test scores haven't improved as far as I can tell."
SOURCE: Senator Bill Kintner, Papillion Times. DATE: 01/16/2013
THE FACTS: Let's talk about test scores first. The truth is test scores in the Learning Community have increased. Member school districts have established a three year positive trend line for 4th Grade NeSA reading scores with a seven percent increase. This positive change reflects hard work on the part of local school districts. Scores for students from lower-income and very poor households also increased, but we have a long way to go. Students from families in poverty are significantly less proficient than other students in the Learning Community. In fact, nearly 40 percent of those students lack the basic reading skills they need to successfully complete their K-12 education and go on to career training or college. The Learning Community is working to change that. To find out about our results, go to the next entry.
WRONG: “The Learning Community…acts as an umbrella school district, redistributing tax revenues raised by its 11 component school districts where it sees the greatest need.”
SOURCE: Eugene Curtin, reporter for Papillion Times. DATE: 01/08/2014
THE FACTS: The Learning Community is not a school district, and it has no role in how school district Common Levy funds are distributed to schools according to state formula. See where your tax dollars go.
WRONG: "'…the Learning Community hasn’t accomplished anything but transferring money from school districts in Sarpy County to school districts in Douglas County.'"
SOURCE: Senator Bill Kintner, quote in Papillion Times. DATE: 01/08/2014
THE FACTS: As explained above, Common Levy funds are distributed to local school districts in Douglas and Sarpy counties according to a state formula. Annual and independent program evaluation show that the Learning Community is making signficant progress in developing proven programs and practices to help children in poverty.
Our latest Achievement Track results show that over 20,000 students, parents and teachers are making strong gains. For more on how Learning Community programs are helping families and students living in poverty succeed in school, visit Our Results.
Programs for families and children are improving student achievement. See how taxpayers are helping students who need us the most. PROGRAMS
We're working with the Buffett Institute and 11 schools districts to challenge the achievement gap from birth to age 8. MORE
Check out the map and find your subcouncil.
The Learning Community is making a difference in student achievement. See a summary of our programs and results.