The Coordinating Commission recently produced a series of fliers that offer an overview of the need-based financial aid programs the Commission administers; the state’s current postsecondary attainment levels and where it needs to be by 2020; and the Commission’s duties and responsibilities.
Nebraska’s College Attainment
Nebraska Opportunity Grant
Access College Early (ACE) grant program
ACE Plus grant program
The Coordinating Commission recently voted to fund five projects through a U.S. Department of Education grant program designed to improve K-12 teachers’ content knowledge and professional skills.
The Commission administers the Improving Teacher Quality (ITQ) grants for Nebraska. These grants are intended to help increase student achievement by providing educators with professional development activities to improve their knowledge and teaching skills.
The grants provide funds to partnerships established between Nebraska postsecondary institutions and high-need, low-income local education agencies (LEAs), most often school districts. The partners use the funds for specific projects pertaining to core academic subjects.
A full list and descriptions of the selected programs, as well as the funding they’ll receive, can be found on the Commission website. Programs will benefit teachers from school districts across the state.
An evaluation panel with members from Nebraska high schools and the State Department of Education met in December at the Commission office in Lincoln. Eight proposals were submitted by partnerships that involved four different institutions (University of Nebraska-Lincoln, University of Nebraska at Kearney, Doane College and Wayne State College), the Nebraska Educational Technology Association, and a variety of school districts and educational service units (ESUs). The Commission at its Jan. 22 meeting voted to approve the panel’s recommended projects to fund.
At this time, the total amount of funds available for awards in 2014-2015 is $275,855.
The Coordinating Commission recently approved its 2015 meeting calendar, which includes visits to Chadron State College, Central Community College and Nebraska Wesleyan University.
The Nebraska Constitution and statute require the Commission to coordinate higher education from a statewide perspective. Because of that, the Commission attempts to schedule meetings at various campuses across the state. In recent years the Commission held meetings at Western Nebraska Community College, Northeast Community College, Peru State College, Wayne State College and Metropolitan Community College.
Note: Dates and locations listed below are subject to change. Always check the Commission website to confirm.
January 22 – Videoconference, originating from NET in Lincoln
March 12 – Central Community College, Columbus
April 30 – University of Nebraska-Lincoln
June 25 – Chadron State College
Aug. 20 – Nebraska Wesleyan University, Lincoln
Oct. 15 – State Capitol, Lincoln
Dec. 3 – Apothecary Building, Lincoln
At a Legislative hearing Nov. 19 the Coordinating Commission made the case for continuing to use a share of State lottery revenue to help fund a need-based financial aid program for Nebraska college students.
The Legislature’s Education Committee heard more than three hours of testimony on how to distribute about $17 million in State lottery funds earmarked for education. Coordinating Commission Executive Director Mike Baumgartner offered testimony, which included a handout that clearly illustrates how vital lottery funding is to the Nebraska Opportunity (NOG).
Under the current lottery distribution formula – set to expire in 2016 – about $10 million of those funds go to NOG, which is administered by the Coordinating Commission. The remaining $7 million goes toward various pre-K and K-12 initiatives.
In 2013-14, more than $16 million in NOG funds went to needy students, many of whom would not be able to afford college without such financial aid. NOG is funded through a combination of State General fund appropriations and State lottery funds. If lottery funding were removed – which is what would happen under current legislation – nearly 10,000 fewer NOG scholarships would have been awarded in 2013-14.
The Education Committee is expected to consider legislation this session that would decide how the education portion of lottery funding is distributed after July 1, 2016.
The Coordinating Commission at its Oct. 14 meeting approved its 2015-2017 budget recommendations for the University of Nebraska, State College System and the state’s community colleges.
The Commission now forwards those recommendations to the Legislature and Governor for their consideration before they approve higher-education budgets during the upcoming Legislative session.
The State Constitution and statutes require the Commission to review the budget requests of the state’s public postsecondary institutions. The Commission also is required by statute to make recommendations on the institutions’ capital construction budget requests. The Commission approved these recommendations at its Oct. 14 meeting, as well.
Gov. Dave Heineman has appointed John Bernthal, a retired professor and department chair at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, to fill the 1st District vacancy for the Coordinating Commission.
Before retiring in 2011, Bernthal was a professor and served as chair of the Department of Special Education and Communication Disorders at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He also has served in leadership positions in professional associations and is the past president of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.
Bernthal earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from Wayne State College, his Master of Arts from Kansas University, and his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin.
The commission is governed by an 11-member board of commissioners, who serve staggered six-year terms. Six commissioners represent each of the state’s supreme court districts and five serve as at-large members. The 1st District covers Lancaster and Seward Counties.
The Legislature is still required to approve the governor’s appointment of Bernthal. Because the Legislature is not in session, however, Bernthal can serve as a voting member of the commission until he is confirmed.
Nebraska has been approved for participation in a national reciprocity agreement that will streamline the process for institutions to offer distance learning courses to out-of-state students.
The State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA) is an agreement among member states that establishes comparable national standards for interstate offering of postsecondary distance education courses and programs. It is intended to make it easier for students to take online courses offered by postsecondary institutions based in another state. SARA is overseen by the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (NC-SARA) and administered by four regional education compacts—the Midwestern Higher Education Compact (MHEC), in Nebraska’s case.
Nebraska legislation has designated the Coordinating Commission as the state’s portal agency for SARA, meaning Nebraska institutions will apply to the Coordinating Commission to participate. Once approved, the institutions can offer distance learning courses to students from states also participating in SARA. Without SARA, institutions must apply to each state for approval before they can offer distance-learning courses to its residents.
Nebraska, through the Coordinating Commission, received approval to participate in SARA from MHEC’s Executive Committee and now becomes the eighth state in the country to join SARA.
Nebraska institutions can apply to participate in SARA via the Coordinating Commission’s website at ccpe.state.ne.us/SARA.
SARA is funded by a $2.3 million grant from Lumina Foundation, an independent, private foundation committed to increasing the proportion of Americans with high-quality degrees, certificates and other credentials to 60 percent by 2025.
For more information on Nebraska’s participation in SARA, please contact Jason Keese at the Coordinating Commission: 402-471-0023 or firstname.lastname@example.org