Budget Cuts Looming for OPS

Samantha Sperry, Editor-in-Chief

The Omaha Public School District is the only district in the state with its own retirement program. Other programs are issued by Nebraska’s Public Employee’s Retirement Board.
The districts retirement program issues a payment to retiree’s on the third of every month one month after their retirement. With over 4,000 retired employees, the district has run into a shortfall.
OPS has had its fair share of budget cuts. The district is constantly trying to find ways to improve students education, wellbeing, and the schools themselves.
In the past couple of years, OPS has spent millions of dollars on renovations and changes, leaving them to make almost 30 million dollars in cuts. Even with the cuts that have already been made, OPS is still short around $700 million for teacher pension.
One idea the district recently brought up is raising property taxes or borrowing millions of dollars in bonds.
“We as a taxpayer group oppose both options,” Nebraska Taxpayers for Freedom member Doug Kagan said.
Kagan and other taxpayers believe that OPS should be responsible for cutting the district’s budget further.
“[Students] have a lot of transportation they do that’s not mandated by the state,” Kagan said. “They could cut unnecessary course work.”
The district spends seven million dollars on language arts textbooks alone. More schools, like Benson, are trying to provide more laptops for students as well.
Last year, members of the budget group and school principals discussed cuts that could save the district millions of dollars. The list included eliminating over 100 jobs, cutting busing for high schoolers, funding for elementary magnet school programs, and middle school band programs.
The district is currently looking into more cuts.