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Joni Albrecht

Sen. Joni Albrecht

District 17

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Summer is upon us. School is officially out all over the district and students are now on to their summer activities. I look forward to working outdoors and going to my grandchildren’s activities.

Bill Update

This week I would like to go over LB1284 which was Fremont Senator Lynne Walz’s priority bill. It became an omnibus education proposal and included portions of eight other bills.

LB1284 provides funding and resources to implement the provisions of the Computer Science and Technology Education Act, which the Legislature passed in 2022. The bill requires the Nebraska Department of Education to employ or contract with computer science specialists to develop and deliver computer science educator training for teachers. The training will be accessible to all teachers in the state, including those seeking supplemental computer science certification. LB1284 also establishes the Computer Science and Technology Education Fund, which the department will administer. The fund will receive $1 million from the Education Future Fund by June 30, 2025 and $500,000 annually if matching private funds are raised.

  • LB985, introduced by Senator Lou Ann Linehan from Elkhorn, clarifies that eligibility for the Nebraska Teacher Recruitment and Retention Act also requires an applicant teach in the area of their high-need certification
  • LB986, also introduced by Senator Linehan, amends the Teach in Nebraska Today Act to increase the maximum grant total awarded each year from $5 million to $10 million.
  • LB1005, introduced by Senator Walz, provides technical changes to carry out provisions of a 2023 Education Committee omnibus bill.
  • LB1014, also introduced by Senator Walz, reimburses school districts and education service units for the cost of contracting with outside agencies to cover required services of school psychologists.
  • LB1050, introduced by Senator Danielle Conrad from Lincoln, creates a pilot program administered by the Nebraska Department of Education to provide school districts with free menstrual products in Fiscal Year 2025-26.
  • LB1252, introduced by Senator Linehan, provides funding to the Nebraska Department of Education to develop and implement a professional learning system to help provide sustained professional learning and training regarding evidence-based reading instruction for teachers who teach children from four years of age through third grade. The state Department of Education will work with educational service units to provide regional coaches to provide assistance and job-embedded training relating to evidence-based reading instruction to teachers who teach students in kindergarten through third grade.
  • LB1253, introduced by Senator Linehan, provides up to $500,000 in grants to research the use of artificial-intelligence-based writing assistance for individuals with dyslexia, which teachers could use to develop a comprehensive literacy plan.
  • LB1254, also introduced by Senator Linehan, would provide funding to the Nebraska Department of Education to create reading improvement mentorship programs that focus on developing the science of reading skills and employ regional coaches to assist teachers with reading instruction.

LB1284 passed on a 42-0 vote and took effect immediately. (“Education package clears final round”. Unicameral Update. 15 April, 2024.

News from the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services

The federal Department of Agriculture (USDA) has approved the Department of Health and Human Services’ (DHHS) plan to run the Summer Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) program. USDA officials commended DHHS for the several touchpoints included in the plan to ensure Nebraska families receive the services they need during summer months.
Eligible families will receive $120 per child for the summer period. An estimated 175,000 students, or 80,000 households, will be eligible to receive Summer EBT benefits.
Along with issuing the cards, the Summer EBT program will include multiple touchpoints of outreach throughout the following months, including:

  • Educational information on the types of nutritious foods that parents can purchase for their kids with Summer EBT cards;
  • DHHS sending text messages to families with a brief survey to help identify additional needs or resources; and
  • Trained staff following up personally to assess any other needs and determine what resources would be of benefit to families.

In addition to DHHS utilizing Summer EBT and built-in touchpoints in its plan, NDE will also administer the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) which provides no-cost meals to children ages 1 through 18 at nearly 300 locations across Nebraska. No applications or paperwork are required to receive meals from approved sites. Most SFSP sites begin providing meals during the first week of June. Text FOOD or COMIDA to 304-304 to receive information about local SFSP sites.

School-age, income-eligible children may receive Summer EBT benefits. This includes:

  1. School-age children participating in the following public assistance programs:Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP);
    a. Aid to Dependent Children (ADC);
    b. Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR); or
    c. Children on Medicaid with household income under 185% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL).
  2. School-age children who are eligible for free or reduced-priced meals through the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) or School Breakfast Program (SBP) based on the following statuses:
    a. Participation in Head Start;
    b. Homeless;
    c. Foster;
    d. Migrant; or
    e. Runaway.
  3. School-age children who have already been approved for free or reduced-priced meals through filling out a school meals application; and
  4. School-age children enrolled in a school participating in NSLP/SBP, not already eligible, and determined income-eligible through a Summer EBT application, which will be available after June 1.

If a child meets the first three above criteria, they do not need to complete a Summer EBT application. Their benefits will be issued to a Summer EBT card and mailed to the address provided by the student’s school or maintained by DHHS for public assistance participants.

School-aged homeschooled children not receiving public assistance benefits do not qualify for Summer EBT benefits, as they are not participating in an NSLP/SBP school.

To learn more about Summer EBT and SFSP, please visit More information on benefit issuances will be shared as implementation continues this summer. (Spilinek, Collin. Press Release. “DHHS Summer EBT Program Plan Approved by USDA”. 6 May, 2024.

As always, I invite you to let me know your thoughts, ideas, concerns, or suggestions by calling my office at (402) 471-2716 or emailing me at

Sen. Joni Albrecht

District 17
Room 1404
P.O. Box 94604
Lincoln, NE 68509
(402) 471-2716
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