Legislative bills have potential to affect students


This legislative session for the Nebraska State Legislature, several bills have already been introduced to congress for debate, three of which have potential to affect students.

LB 923 was introduced on Jan. 15, which requires an hour long suicide prevention and awareness training each year for school counselors, nurses, psychologists and teachers.

Freshman Megan Cook thinks the more education faculty members have on the issue, the better off the school will be. Counselor Susan Polk agrees.

“I think more information is always better,” Polk said. “I’m always in favor of up-to-date training and staying on top of the latest developments in different areas.”

The in-service training would explain to faculty members the warning signs of suicide.

“It’s hard to tell whether or not [a student] is suicidal,” sophomore Jason Jerrell said. “Teachers should know the signs.”

Given the severity of those situations, Polk agrees.

“If counselors are more aware of the warning signs and possible reasons why students might be feeling suicidal, they’re better able to intervene and get those kids before they make a bad decision,” Polk said.

Science teacher Sandra Lemke thinks the bill provides an excellent opportunity to educate teachers, on a topic not all are knowledge about.

“Personally, I don’t have a lot of knowledge about that kind of thing and I think it would be good to be more aware,” Lemke said.

While the training may be beneficial, Polk said time could be an issue.

“School counselors are usually quite busy. We have over 400 students on our caseload so it would just be a matter of squeezing in that training somewhere,” Polk said.

Another bill being discussed is LB 740. Once veterans, their spouses, and children register to vote and obtain a Nebraska driver’s license, they are allowed to receive in-state tuition. Currently, veteran students have to live and work in the state for a year before qualifying.

Math teacher and veteran Dave Butler pointed out that military families aren’t usually in control of where they go, therefore they should have the option to come back to Nebraska to go to college within a reasonable time period.

“If they were stationed here and would want to come back here, they would have to wait a year before that would happen,” Butler said. “It would get more veterans to come back to the state and to retire here.”

Freshman Megan Hoppe agrees.

“If you want to go to a certain college and you don’t live there, that’s not really your fault. You’re just there because your parents are in the military,” Hoppe said.

Senior Kyle Schmidt thinks that because their parents served, the students should receive as many benefits as possible. He also acknowledges that education is one benefit that not only helps the veteran and their family, but also the community.

“With a college education, they can put that toward bettering our country,” Schmidt said.

Jerrell, however, thinks the law should remain the same; students should have to live in Nebraska a year before qualifying. He doesn’t think students who have never lived here before should automatically qualify for in state tuition.

“I mean if you moved here for just college a week ago or something and then you get the [in-state] tuition, it means a lot less because you haven’t lived here during that time,” Jerrell said.

Jerrell thinks reduced college tuition is beneficial because of the increasing number of students taking out loans, but doesn’t think non-residents should receive the benefits, considering the money would come from local taxpayers.

“It’s good that they’re getting the money for tuition but I think it should go to the people who have stayed here longer,” Jerrell said.

The last bill that could affect Bellevue West is LB 782. This would require athletes who’ve been out for a concussion to develop a plan upon returning. Changes to their schedule or classroom assistance are possible options. The plan would be in place until they’ve recovered.

Football coach and physical education teacher Mike Huffman said this could be beneficial because classroom work can affect the recovery process.

“It’d help them recover a little bit faster. From what I understand, with the brain it needs time, quiet and relaxation to heal properly within a good time frame,” Huffman said. “I know school work can be just as stressful as anything else, especially some of the kids in the more advanced classes.”

However, Huffman said it would be difficult to monitor.

“There would be a lot of communication built into the process to make sure that kids weren’t taking advantage of the situation,” Huffman said.

Huffman said the school does a great job of making sure the students are athletically ready to go before they are able to return to their sport.

The Nebraska legislative session ends Apr. 17.


For more information on bills being discussed, click here.

Hailey Stolze
Editor in Chief