News

Highlights of 4/24 Lincoln Board of Education meeting

The Lincoln Board of Education held a regular meeting on Tuesday, April 24 at Lincoln Public Schools District Office, 5905 O St. The Board will hold its next regular meeting on May 8 at 6 p.m.

High School Task Force Findings and Recommendations

One of the 2017-18 goals adopted by the Lincoln Board of Education was to establish a High School Task Force to investigate community options and priorities for serving high school students and to make recommendations to the Board by May 1, 2018.

Superintendent Steve Joel invited community members, LPS staff and students to join in a conversation about how to best serve future high school students in Lincoln. The task force met six times throughout the course of the school year, once at each established public high school in Lincoln.  Each meeting included presentations, tours and sub-committee work. The four subcommittees focused on city growth and high school capacity needs; comprehensive high schools; innovative delivery and alternative programs; and equity, diversity and community.

Liz Standish, associate superintendent for Business Affairs, introduced task force co-chairs Gloria Eddins and Bob Rauner to present the committee’s findings and recommendations, which included:

  • Overall, high schools in LPS are currently at 106% enrollment capacity with four of the six high schools each serving over 2,000 students.
  • Population growth is occurring in all four quadrants of the city.
  • The highest growth area is expected to be in the east-southeast quadrant and the northwest quadrant of the city.
  • The district should maximize current capacity at The Career Academy and Focus Programs.
  • Consider new locations that promote diversity as much as possible.
  • Consider long-range needs and plan for high schools number seven, eight and nine.
  • Serving students in a larger school is more cost effective than smaller schools.
  • If the district pursues smaller schools, consider design elements that allow for expansion to a 2,000-student school in the future.
  • Design comprehensive high schools with agile spaces to accommodate student and staff collaboration.
  • Schools should be designed to provide accessibility for a variety of community and student needs.
  • Seek further feedback from students, parents, community and organizations that use the LPS facilities.
  • Continue allowing for program choice.
  • Create alternative options to completing high school credit requirements with a focus on career skills, college readiness and civic-life readiness.
  • Allow for flexibility between paths without impacting credit and completion.
  • Redesign a district choice model that transitions the concept of a single pathway to a wheel model, implying more opportunities for pursuing areas of interests.
  • Continue to provide transportation to focus programs and The Career Academy to ensure programs are accessible to all students.

Video of the full presentation and the entire board meeting can be viewed here: https://www.lps.org/about/board/

Invited Presentations: JPA Programs

The following individuals were invited to speak about different aspects of the proposed Lincoln Safe and Successful Kids Joint Public Agency programming:

Dr. Sarah Zuckerman, Member of Nebraskans Against Gun Violence, presented on School Resource Officers and Community Learning Centers

Sara Hoyle, Lancaster County Human Services Director, and Chris Turner, Lancaster County Chief Deputy Attorney, presented on the issue of Disproportionate Minority Contact (DMC); RESTORE, which is a collaboration between the Lancaster County Attorney's Office, Lincoln Public Schools, Lincoln Police Department and Lancaster County Human Services; School Resource Officers; as well as other ongoing juvenile diversion programs.

Wendi Anderson, Child Guidance Center, and Dennis Hoffman, Family Services Executive Director, presented on the many mental health services provided to students in Lincoln Public Schools.   

Barb Bettin, YMCA of Lincoln President/CEO, presented on the YMCA’s longtime collaboration with Lincoln’s Community Learning Centers.

Michaela Hahn, Culler Middle School Principal, presented on her experience working with School Resource Officers while at Northeast High School.

Chris Deibler, Pound Middle School Principal, presented on the history of School Resource Officers at LPS middle schools.

Video of the full presentations and the entire board meeting can be viewed here: https://www.lps.org/about/board/.

Lincoln Safe and Successful Kids Joint Public Agency

The City of Lincoln and Lincoln Public Schools have been working together and are proposing a collaborative effort with the goal of: Safe and Successful Kids in our Community. To meet this goal the proposal includes the establishment of a Joint Public Agency (JPA).

The structure and funding of the JPA:

  • The JPA creates a governing body to promote governmental cooperation and coordination with taxing authority through a reduction in the City of Lincoln’s maximum taxing authority.
  • The JPA will be authorized to levy up to one cent. It is anticipated a one-cent levy will generate approximately $2-2.1 million.
  • The JPA will provide funding for JPA expenses and Community Learning Center sites. Remaining funding will be allocated up to 30 percent to be used for Protective Programming and not less than 40 percent to be used for Proactive Programming.
  • The JPA Board will be comprised of elected officials that will include three school board members, two city council members, and the mayor.
  • The JPA must follow the Nebraska Open Meetings Act.

The initiative would fund:

  • School Resource Officers
  • One additional threat assessment officer
  • Mental health services with one additional LPS social worker and additional student therapist services
  • An increase in leadership and staff to serve Community Learning Centers
  • Academic and enrichment opportunities that lead to success for students

Video of the full discussion and the entire board meeting can be viewed here: https://www.lps.org/about/board/. There will be a public forum held on the proposed Joint Public Agency on Monday, April 30 at 7:30 p.m. at Southwest High School.

The Board will vote on a JPA proposal at its May 8 meeting.

Title VI, Indian Education Program

The Board discussed the submission of the required application of the Indian Education grant to the U.S. Department of Education through Title VI of Every Student Succeeds Act for $150,762. Decisions regarding the use of these funds are made in consultation with the Native American Advisory Committee.

Lincoln Public Schools has received federal funds for services for Native American students since the mid-1980s. Native American students are enrolled in all schools across the LPS district, representing about 60 tribes as designated by parents.

Evaluation, contract for superintendent

LPS Superintendent Steve Joel received high marks from the Lincoln Board of Education in his annual evaluation and contract presented and proposed Tuesday. Some highlights of the evaluation summary, submitted by Board President Lanny Boswell:

“Board members were unanimous in their praise of Dr. Joel’s exemplary work on the LPS Strategic Plan, noting that his leadership was instrumental to the adoption of a future-focused, inclusive, and unifying strategic plan.”

“As in past years, Board members were split in how to evaluate progress on the district’s graduation rate. Although the graduation rate did not reach 90% this year, Board members noted both gradual progress toward the goal and the aggressive strategies in place to achieve this multi-year goal.”

“Board members remarked positively on the Superintendent’s responsiveness to questions and to his effective assistance in the development, recommendation, and administration of policy. Dr. Joel’s strong communication skills were reflected in the Board’s assessment of his relationship with staff and the community.”

The proposed contract for Joel in the 2018-19 school year calls for a base salary of $325,139, a 2.49 percent increase over the previous year. His total package increase would be 2.17 percent.

The Board will take a final vote on the contract May 8.

Other contracts

In addition, proposed salary increases for the members of the superintendent’s Executive Committee are 2.68 percent, with an overall package increase of 2.43 percent for 2018-19.

The proposed base salaries for the executive team are:

  • Jane Stavem, associate superintendent for Instruction, $226,774.
  • Eric Weber, associate superintendent for Human Resources; and Liz Standish, associate superintendent for Business Affairs, $214,859.
  • John Neal, assistant to the superintendent for General Administration and Government Relations, $210,525.

The Board will take a final vote on the contracts May 8.

Science Focus Program project facilitator agreement

Lincoln Public Schools operates a Science Focus Program at the Lincoln Children's Zoo, also known as Zoo School. The Lincoln Children's Zoo initiated a capital campaign and a major construction and renovation project.  Lincoln Public Schools is a partner in contributing to the project with the Lincoln Children’s Zoo and the City of Lincoln.

The initial term and rent for the sublease is for 50 years, with rent of $1.00 rent per year and annual renewals thereafter. The sublease also provides that LPS is committing a maximum of $3,265,084.00 as its share of the construction and related costs for the new Science Focus Program facility to be built at the zoo. This agreement will be voted on at the May 8 meeting.

Student Celebration

The Lincoln Board of Education heard from The Career Academy students who qualified for national competitions. They included:

  • Skylar Anderson, Junior,  K-12 Path, EdRising Nationals in Creative Talks (TED) and Impromptu Lesson
  • Shelby Bruns, Senior, Early Childhood Development, EdRising Nationals in Inside Our Schools Presentation
  • Jacqueline Martinez, Senior, Health Science, HOSA Nationals in Behavioral Health
  • Corinne Baier, Senior, DECA Nationals in Business Law & Ethics
  • Bonnie Jo Schuerman, Senior, DECA Nationals in Business Law & Ethics
  • Jason Evans, Senior, Skills USA

Public Comment

There were community people who came and spoke at Tuesday’s Board of Education meeting in the public comment section of the agenda. To watch public comment and the full Board meeting go to https://www.lps.org/about/board/.


Published: April 24, 2018, Updated: April 24, 2018