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City, schools wrapping their arms around community's children with collaborative proposal for action

Lincoln Board of Education member Connie Duncan says she envisions a simple image when she considers a solution to student safety and success at Lincoln Public Schools: “We need our city and our schools to wrap their arms around those that need us the most, our most valuable asset, our children.”

Duncan was speaking at a press conference Thursday featuring speakers from city and public schools, parents and others, whose audience members represented a wide group of people coming together to form the Safe and Successful Kids Community Coalition in support of a recent proposed collaborative effort between the city and LPS.  

“Our Board of Education has spent the last several months listening to our community about student safety and security,” Duncan said.  “They have told us, loudly and clearly, that we need to address issues of student safety in a comprehensive manner. I want you to know we hear you and understand this need…Our community has asked for School Resources Officers, threat assessment initiatives, mental health services, and a safe environment for all students before, during and after school.”

She said LPS and the city are responding with “a perfect solution, a Joint Public Agency…The Safe and Successful Kids JPA could nurture and foster student safety and success efforts and hold them as its sole focus. By combining the resources of LPS and the city in a new entity we can help generate greater effectiveness while providing greater efficiencies.” 

The city of Lincoln and LPS, in fact, are coming together and proposing multifaceted, comprehensive action that covers increased security, mental health resources and proactive measures. 

LPS Superintendent Steve Joel – also speaking at the press conference – explained this solution “represents the culmination of years of discussion and work.”

“I am grateful for this conversation…grateful for a community that comes together,” he said. “We have been working together for years, looking for a solution to provide additional safety and security for our children...But our schools cannot do it alone...A JPA is a community-based, thoughtful way to support our schools and our children.”

Other comments:

Lincoln Mayor Chris Beutler: “Keeping our kids safe and helping them to be successful in school and in their lives is the foundation of a strong community, and it’s a job that is shared by city government, our school system and our community partners…Today is just the beginning of the broader public discussion.  We share a common goal: We all want to do what’s best for our kids.  Let’s work together to create real solutions for the future.”

Marilyn Moore, former associate superintendent for Instruction for LPS, speaking specifically to the coalition of support: “In Lincoln, it’s a matter of course bringing people together to make this community work better.  We collaborate and care together.”

Lincoln Police Chief Jeff Bliemeister: “When you talk about the safety and security of our schools, it is not exclusively a police issue.  This JPA provides an opportunity to address multiple issues we are facing…issues that are intertwined…It is time to take action and make a difference.”

Korey Reiman, from Parents United for Greater School Security, thanked the city and public schools for responding to his group’s message for greater safety and security – and expressed his care and concern for the children of Lincoln.

FACTS about the Safe and Successful Kids Community Coalition:

The city of Lincoln and Lincoln Public Schools are coming together with the community goal of: Safe and Successful Kids in our Community.  To meet this goal, they are proposing multifaceted, comprehensive action that covers increased security, mental health resources and proactive measures. 

They propose establishment of a Joint Public Agency (JPA) – and are working together so citizens would not see an increase in the total tax levy, making it “levy neutral.”

What this initiative would fund: 

  • Protective measures: Establish additional School Resource Officers to cover LPS middle and elementary schools, and one additional threat assessment officer ($390,000).
  • Preventive measures: Increase mental health services with one additional LPS social worker and additional student therapist services ($400,000).
  • Proactive measures: Increase leadership and staff at Community Learning Centers (CLCs) to provide a safe place for students before and after school as well as academic and enrichment opportunities that lead to success for students; and enhanced learning opportunities focused on STEAM programs (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) for CLC clubs and after school activities ($1,210,000).  

What is a JPA:

  • A new political subdivision created between existing sub-divisions that serves the purpose of supporting and overseeing a unique effort – with a shared mission.
  • In this case, a response to address unique challenges where two sub-divisions have shared and integrated interests.
  • A JPA has a separate operating board made up of elected officials from both sub-divisions (the city and school district).

Funding:

  • This initiative will generate an estimated $2 million in the first year of existence with a 1-cent city property tax levy.
  • The city and school district are working together so citizens would not see an increase in the total tax levy – making it “levy neutral.”

 


Published: April 5, 2018, Updated: April 9, 2018

"We need our city and our schools to wrap their arms around those that need us the most, our most valuable asset, our children."

Connie Duncan, Lincoln Board of Education member

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