Lincoln Public School: Highlights of 3/28 Lincoln Board of Education meeting

The Lincoln Board of Education held a regular meeting on Tuesday, March 28 at Lincoln Public Schools District Office, 5905 O St. The Board will hold its next meeting Tuesday, April 10 at 6 p.m.

Changes in superintendent evaluation

Annually, an evaluation of the Lincoln Public Schools Superintendent is prepared by the Lincoln Board of Education – along with leadership goals/job targets – and Tuesday the Board considered some modifications in the annual evaluation procedures to better facilitate the process and to conform to current practice.

Don Mayhew, president of the Board of Education, called the newly proposed evaluation instrument more meaningful and streamlined. “The point of having an evaluation is having a conversation with the superintendent, where all Board members get a chance to be heard…and where we provide meaningful feedback to the superintendent.”

He said the proposed changes also allow Board members to give specific examples of how the superintendent excels or can improve, “and a leader cannot improve unless they fully understand.”

Mayhew stressed that the changes have nothing to do with the current or previous superintendents, “but we are trying to answer the question: What is the best evaluation tool?”

There were also policy updates suggested that are related to proposed changes in the evaluation tool

Board member Barb Baier opposed removing a section related to personal traits: “I think we need to remember that this evaluation must work for when we have a great superintendent, like Dr. Joel, as well as when we may not have a great superintendent.”

The Board will vote final approval at the April 10 meeting.

Naming Professional Learning Facility and Nutrition Services Facility

The renovated Lincoln Public Schools facility at 710 Hill St. – which has two separate sections – will likely carry two names: The Don Clifton Professional Learning Center (for the south main entrance and the staff development section); and the Nutrition Services Distribution Center (for the east side for the section that will house LPS food storage). 

A community committee – made up of seven community members and three Board of Education members – passed on that recommendation to the full Board Tuesday evening. The school district solicited suggestions from the community, and the Community Committee reviewed those ideas and more.

The renovated facility will have two major uses:

  • For Professional Learning: LPS is committed to high-quality professional learning opportunities for all staff.  The facility will house a large professional learning space, smaller classrooms and conference room settings to meet the various needs of staff.
  • For Nutrition Services:  The facility will house the freezer, cooler, dry storage and support offices that facilitate distribution of food to school sites district-wide. On any given day, the LPS Nutrition Services program serves 7,200 breakfasts, 26,400 lunches, 3,200 snacks and 150 dinners. In total over seven million dollars of food will be distributed through this facility each year.

Kathy Danek, the Board of Education member who chaired the Naming Committee, noted that Don Clifton exhibited a passion for professional learning and development of individual strengths.  He was an authentic leader who valued people and inspired success.  The Clifton philosophy aligns well with the learning mission of LPS and this innovative space for all of our staff. 

The seven community members on the committee are: Nick Dean, Brendan Evans, Susan Musick, Tom Rempel, Becki Wise, Cindy Ryman Yost and Kelly Zoz.  The three Board members are: Kathy Danek, chair; Don Mayhew and Matt Schulte.

The Board will vote final approval at the April 10 meeting.

Belmont construction work

The Board heard a recommendation that Sampson Construction Company be chosen for the $7.6 million project to fulfill the Belmont Elementary School Indoor Air Quality construction project.  The project will consist of Indoor Air Quality Improvements and be multiple phased. 

Policy changes: Community Relations/Advertising

The Board approved minor changes to Community Relations/Advertising Board Policy 1112 which sets guidelines for advertising and promotional items in schools.

Update from Prosper Lincoln/Early Childhood

The Board Tuesday heard an update from Prosper Lincoln representatives focusing on the goal of Early Childhood – one of the three pillars chosen as the major objectives of the group.

The presentation included LPS Superintendent Steve Joel, as well as Michelle Suarez and Marjorie Kostelnik, two community members who are working on strategies to achieve the goal of: All children are kindergarten ready. 

Kostelnik commended LPS for their support for high quality early education: “Children are born learning…They are hardwired to learn from the moment they appear…But some children have more opportunities, more experiences than other children, to make the most of that potential…Early childhood education is one thing that contributes to children getting the most out of those early years.”

By the time children arrive in kindergarten, Kostelnik continued, “some children already have grown up with fewer of those early opportunities that contribute to brain development. Some children are in more sterile environments, some in more chaotic environments…and those children often have less early brain development.”

Early childhood experiences in children’s lives make a difference, she said.  “ The actions of this School Board speak to the fact that you get early childhood…We are here to say thank you for recognizing the value of early children…and to tell you that we are eager to partner with you…to expand the opportunities children have for early experiences.”  

Background:  Prosper Lincoln is bringing together people from across our community to make our city even better. Using the findings from Lincoln Vital Signs as a starting point, community-wide discussions were held
to help set priorities and establish a community agenda for positive change.

Michelle Suarez thanked the superintendent and school district leaders for all their support and commitment to early childhood – and offered an update on the strategies related to the pillar of Early Childhood:

Educate • Educate the general public through a media campaign about what healthy early childhood development is and why high quality early childhood programs are important.  (Vision: All Lincoln residents know the critical importance of the first years of life.)

Educate • Promote high quality early childhood programs as a community asset.  (Vision: We see our investment in early childhood as an investment in the future health and prosperity of our community.)

Educate • Support and Promote Read Aloud 15 Minutes campaign educating the general public about the importance of reading to young children from birth. (Vision: More children are read aloud to every day to ensure literacy for all. Nationally, less than half of children are read aloud to every day.)

Advocate • Create an Early Childhood Business Roundtable to build awareness and advocacy of the importance of high quality programs that support healthy child development and learning. (Vision: Business leaders become champions of early childhood to serve the current workforce as they invest in the future workforce.)

Advocate • Identify and connect groups to create a comprehensive Early Childhood Network to promote coordination and advocacy that focuses on the whole child. (Vision: We are planting the seeds of collective impact-common agenda, shared measures, mutually reinforcing activities, continuous communication and backbone support.

Transform • Expand access and availability of high quality early childhood programs for children birth to age 8 and ensure affordability to families. (Vision: We are expanding capacity so that all children have access to affordable and healthy childhood development and learning opportunities.)

Transform • Support families in providing children with high quality early learning opportunities and experiences in healthy environments.  (Vision: Families have what they need to ensure their children have what they need to thrive.)

Transform • Create community expectation that all environments become geared to children and offer opportunities for learning. (Vision: We design events and places so that children have stimulating learning experiences at all venues.) 

Staff Celebration

The Board honored and recognized:

  • Lance Nielsen, supervisor of music curriculum, for his induction into the Nebraska Music Educators Hall of Fame.
  • Denise Cotton, chair of the music department at Lincoln Southwest High School, named the Outstanding Music Educator for the year 2016-17 by the National Federation of State High School Associations.

Student Celebration

The month of March is officially Music in Our Schools Month and in honor of that celebration the Lincoln Board of Education invited the Lincoln North Star High School String Nonet. North Star music teacher and Nonet director is Rob Salistean.

North Star students performing in the group are:

  • Violin: Kasey Dunaski, Brittany Pfoltner, Sean Lebita and Maia Bryan.
  • Viola: Hannah Ross and Samantha Lamborn.
  • Cello: Eli Bryan and Cassidy Warta.
  • Bass: Madison Miller.



Published: March 28, 2017, Updated: March 28, 2017