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Lincoln Public Schools: Highlights of 7/11 Lincoln Board of Education budget work session

Lincoln Public Schools: 

Highlights of 7/11 Lincoln Board of Education budget work session

The Lincoln Board of Education held a second Budget Work Session on Tuesday, July 11, at Lincoln Public Schools District Office.  The Board’s next regular meeting is scheduled 6 p.m. on July 25.

 

Highlights of 7/11 Lincoln Board of Education Work Session

The Lincoln Board of Education Tuesday continued discussion of the 2017-18 proposed Lincoln Public Schools budget – a budget that focuses on the incredible growth in the school district in student numbers and in student needs.

 

The Work Session followed citizen feedback at two Community Forums held in June – and an earlier work session also in June.

 

The proposed budget addresses the significant growth in LPS student enrollment – but also the significant growth in student needs, said Liz Standish, associate superintendent of Business Affairs for LPS. “This budget prioritizes serving students – to meet the needs they come to us with.”

 

Comments and questions from the Board of Education:

Matt Schulte said he believes LPS should lower the levy in this budget. He warned there are other community bond issues that will be happening in coming years, “and this is an opportunity to shore up support for a future bond issue…We will need public support.”

 

Don Mayhew disagreed with the premise that we “reward” our community by lowering the levy.  “I think the suggestion that by lowering the levy, we are offering the community a reward…to buy some favor before the next bond issue…is not true.  The way we say thank you to our community is by using the tax dollars we have been given – using them well – by doing our job as Board members to provide a high quality education for kids…I think it’s important to keep the conversation framed correctly.”

 

Lanny Boswell questioned the concept of suggesting the levy be cut – without specifying how. “It’s really easy to get up and say we should lower the levy – without saying how you will do that, how it will impact programs and students. Just to say, ‘Let’s lower the levy, but I’m not going to tell you how’ – will be hard to get support from other Board members.” Boswell underlined the “diligence LPS uses in going through the budget process…Because we have done such an excellent job with our forecasting model…and been very prudent in the way we handle those dollars…we have one of the highest bond ratings of any school district in the nation.”

 

Kathy Danek pointed out this budget is the result of hours and hours of discussion in Board committee meetings over the past year, “becoming informed on how the school district is serving the students we have, how we look at this budget – as a needs-based budget.”

 

Barb Baier stressed that LPS has decreased the levy by 7 cents over 12 years “and that includes the time when we saw property values go down…In educating children, investing in our children’s future, our Board has also been responsive to a need for a decrease in the levy.”

 

Annie Mumgaard said what she “hears” in the community – are people who demand a school district that provides “an excellent, world-class education…What I have heard, loud and clear, is that our community wants us to invest in children”  

 

Connie Duncan pointed out that the Board has followed up and fully discussed all suggestions – including a possible decrease in the tax levy.

 

Budget highlights:   

  • The proposed budget provides appropriate staffing, services, supplies and resources to address significant growth in LPS student enrollment. LPS estimates an increase of 950 more students for 2017-18 –bringing total enrollment to almost 42,000 students. LPS served almost 41,000 students this year, an increase of 12 percent or 4,450 students over the last five years.  The 2017-2018 school year will mark the fifth straight year of growth greater than 850 students each year – every year. 
  • Student needs are growing as well – with increases for support in areas such as mental health and behavior issues, early childhood, and English Language Learners (immigrants and refugees). 

LPS officials recommend a slightly lower – essentially flat – tax rate for the coming school year. The 2017-18 proposed budget for LPS totals $420.8 million – a 4.6 percent increase over the previous year.  Last year, the LPS budget increased 5.95 percent to keep pace with the growing student population and growing student needs.

 

According to the most recent statistics, LPS ranked 228 out of 245 school districts in Nebraska in per pupil spending – spending $10,842 per pupil compared to the state average of $11,901.

 

Budget work session materials are located at: http://www.lps.org/about/budget/

 

** Liz Standish is available to offer presentations to the community about the proposed budget.


Published: July 11, 2017, Updated: July 11, 2017