Each spring, parents face one of the biggest decisions they can make for their child’s future: What school environment will their child will spend about 1,000 hours in next year?
Making that decision with confidence starts with knowing what options you have; you may have more school choices than you realize! Understanding these options can help you find a school where your child grows and learns to the best of their ability. Nebraska families can choose from traditional public schools, public magnet schools, private schools, online schools, and homeschooling.
Most children in Nebraska attend traditional public schools. Traditional public schools are free to attend, open to all students, operated by school districts, and funded by taxpayers like you. Each year, Nebraska spends an average of $14,385 per public school student.
Nebraska has unrestricted open enrollment for public schools. What this means is that you can send your child to any public school in Nebraska, regardless of where you live or where the school is located. You can take advantage of this option by visiting multiple public schools near you and discovering which is the best fit for your family. Traditional public schools aren’t all the same: They may differ in learning methods and one may just “feel different” than another to you.
Nebraska currently does not have any public charter schools, but charters may be in Nebraska’s future! Charter schools are tuition-free public schools that are allowed extra freedom to innovate while being held accountable for student achievement. Nebraska is one of only five states that has not passed laws allowing for the creation of public charter schools.
Magnet schools are free public schools that allow kids to narrow in on a specific learning track, such as engineering or the performing arts. At a magnet school, all the subjects are taught through the lenses of that specific track. Nebraska has a handful of magnet schools scattered throughout the state, and these might be a good option if your child learns best by focusing in on a subject they are passionate about.
Families in Nebraska can also consider private schools, nonpublic schools that charge tuition. Private schools may offer a unique curriculum, smaller class sizes, or a faith-based tradition. Nebraska’s private schools come in all shapes and forms, from religious schools to schools designed for children with special needs. Unfortunately, there are no state-run scholarship options in Nebraska at present, but private scholarships may be available. Also, effective in 2018, the federal government allows parents to save for K-12 private school tuition using tax-preferred 529 savings accounts.
Whether your child wants to accelerate his or her learning or needs a quieter environment in which to focus, you may be interested in giving virtual school a try. While most states have free, public online programs that families can choose, Nebraska does not currently have that option. Paid options, like University of Nebraska High School online, may be available.
Nebraska families can also choose to homeschool their children, which allows for a highly customizable and personalized learning experience. Homeschooling is the process of parents educating students at home and is permitted in all 50 states. Check here for a roundup of homeschooling resources specific to Nebraska.
For additional information about school choices in Nebraska visit these resources:
National School Choice Week 2021 will take place January 24 – 30, 2021. We encourage all schools, homeschool groups, organizations and individuals to join the celebration. Click here for ideas, inspiration, and more information!
Nebraska celebrated National School Choice Week 2020 with 209 events and activities across the state. Click the button below to learn more about school choice in Nebraska.
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