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Senator questions cost of consultant to Nebraska schools

January 19, 2019

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — State education officials say a consulting firm’s work at struggling Nebraska schools shows promise, but one state senator is concerned about the firm’s hefty fee and believes the state should look for cheaper options.

The state has awarded North Carolina-based KLK Consulting more than $2.3 million in contracts to help improve dozens of Nebraska schools over the past 12 years, the Omaha World-Herald reported .

Consultants help form curriculum, work on improvement plans, and coach teachers and principals to spot effective teaching practices and address issues. The state pays consultants between $2,000 and $4,000 daily for their services.

Sen. Lou Ann Linehan said the state should consider cheaper options, such as learning from successful schools.

“I wonder why we don’t look at schools in Nebraska that are beating the odds — Lexington, York and Syracuse come to mind — and ask what they are doing? And then emulate it,” she said. “They are realizing huge growth. Why not copy success?”

Kathy Kennedy, one of the firm’s consultants said her pay isn’t unreasonable and her rate is less than what many national consultants charge. She noted that she covers her own expenses, such as transportation and lodging. She said she also doesn’t receive benefits, health insurance or retirement because she’s an independent consultant.

Test scores released last month show that scores improved at Loup County Elementary School in Taylor and Druid Hill Elementary School in Omaha, two of the schools the firm is focusing on. Schuyler Central High School in Schuyler and Santee Middle School in Niobrara are also priority schools.

Schuyler Principal Stephen Grammer said Kennedy has done some good since she started at the school this year. He said he’s spending more time in classrooms observing.

“Right now I think I’ve been in the classroom 122 times in the first two months,” he said. “That never would have happened before.”

Loup County Public Schools Superintendent Rusty Ruppert said Kennedy has helped the district standardize approaches.

“The things she’s brought to the system have been positive,” Ruppert said. “And her approach is positive.”

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Information from: Omaha World-Herald, http://www.omaha.com

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