(1) For fiscal years 2007-08 through 2013-14, the State Department of Education shall provide distance education equipment reimbursement to school districts and educational service units from the Education Innovation Fund as provided in this section. Such reimbursements shall be for hardware or software purchased either by, or on behalf of, the school district or educational service unit seeking reimbursement after July 14, 2006, for use in distance education and shall be limited to a total through fiscal year 2013-14 of twenty thousand dollars multiplied by the number of high school buildings for each school district and twenty thousand dollars for each educational service unit office with a distance education classroom, except that no educational service unit shall count more than one office with a distance education classroom for each four thousand square miles within the boundaries of the educational service unit. If a school district has one or more former high school buildings that are no longer being used as high school buildings due to a school district merger and such buildings have distance education classrooms at the time of application, such buildings shall be deemed high school buildings for the purposes of this subsection. The reimbursements may include installation costs for such hardware or software. To qualify for distance education equipment reimbursement, the school district or the educational service unit shall access Network Nebraska prior to the application for reimbursement. Applications for distance education equipment reimbursement shall be submitted on or before July 1, 2013, for reimbursements to be made in fiscal year 2013-14 on a form specified by the department and shall include:
(a) A description of the hardware or software purchased and how the hardware or software will be used for distance education;
(b) Copies of receipts for the purchases to be reimbursed;
(c) For purchases made on behalf of a school district or educational service unit, evidence that such purchase was made on behalf of such school district or educational service unit and that such school district or educational service unit paid directly or indirectly for such purchase; and
(d) For school districts, a commitment to either send or receive two-way interactive video distance education courses through the Educational Service Unit Coordinating Council each semester, or the equivalent of two semester courses each year, for four consecutive years and to apply for distance education incentives pursuant to section 79-1337 or to provide any other evidence required by the department to show that the commitment was met.
(2) On or before August 1 of each year, the department shall certify the reimbursements to be paid to each school district or educational service unit on or before September 1 of each year.
(3) The department shall use the applications for distance education incentives submitted pursuant to section 79-1337 and any other information requested by the department pursuant to rules and regulations of the department to verify that each school district that received a reimbursement completes the commitment to either send or receive two-way interactive video distance education courses through the council for four years. Any school district failing to complete such commitment shall repay the Education Innovation Fund for the amount of any reimbursements received pursuant to this section. On or before September 1 of each year, the department shall notify any school district failing to complete the commitment for the prior school year that repayment of the reimbursement is required and the amount of such repayment. Repayments shall be due on or before the immediately following December 31. Late repayments shall accrue interest at the rate prescribed in section 45-104.02 from the date of the initial reimbursement.
(4) On or before October 1 of each year, a school district or educational service unit may appeal the denial of reimbursements or a school district may appeal the requirement to repay reimbursements to the State Board of Education. The board shall allow a representative of the school district or educational service unit an opportunity to present information concerning the appeal to the board at the November board meeting. If the board finds that the department denied the reimbursement in error, the department shall pay the district or educational service unit from the Education Innovation Fund as soon as practical the amount which was denied in error. If the board finds that the department erred in notifying a school district that a reimbursement is required to be repaid, such notification shall be void.
(5) The State Board of Education shall adopt and promulgate rules and regulations to carry out this section.