LINCOLN — Facing a filibuster, a proposal to reduce the size of the Omaha School Board from 12 members to seven was removed from debate Tuesday night in the Nebraska Legislature.
The action means that Legislative Bill 720, sponsored by State Sen. Scott Lautenbaugh of Omaha, is dead for now.
"This bill is the right thing to do, and it will be back," Lautenbaugh said.
He and other proponents said that the current OPS board was too large and that the size diluted the board's power to improve education in Omaha or stand up to administrators.
The OPS board, Lautenbaugh said, has ceded too much power to administrators, pointing to the refusal to provide a district organizational chart to a school board member, Justin Wayne, last fall.
Lautenbaugh said potential candidates don't want to run for the board because they don't want to be "one of 12." Reducing the board's size,he said, would make it a more desirable position.
Opponents, led by Omaha Sens. Brenda Council and Jeremy Nordquist, said that the size of the board doesn't matter and that changing it to seven wouldn't improve education for children or increase the number of candidates for board seats.
The effectiveness of a board depends more on the cohesiveness of its members than on the number, said York Sen. Greg Adams, who heads the Legislature's Education Committee.
Council also noted that with the hiring of a new superintendent for OPS, it was the wrong time to change the board's size.
Council led an effort to put off discussion of the bill until next year. While that motion failed on a 23-15 vote, Lautenbaugh acknowledged that a filibuster to be mounted by Council doomed the proposal for 2012.