New facility will keep Science Focus Program on cutting edge

The Lincoln Public Schools Science Focus Program will soon have a new home, still located inside the Lincoln Children’s Zoo but with additional classroom space and science labs that will allow the program - known as the Zoo School - to accommodate more students and expanded curriculum.

Construction of the 15,000-square-foot facility continues to progress, with the hope that graduating seniors can spend time in the new space before the end of the school year. If that’s not possible, the facility will open for the 2019-20 school year.

“This will be a new beginning for the program and it will enhance the experience for those students tremendously,” said LPS Operations Director Scott Wieskamp during a recent tour.

“This facility will be a huge step forward in terms of our ability to deliver this science program to students,” said Kurt Glathar, principal of the Science Focus Program and the LPS Arts & Humanities Focus Program.

The $3.2 million building will feature four classrooms and three 1,100-square-foot science labs. The program is currently housed in two portable classrooms and additional classrooms inside the zoo’s Camelot Commons area. There currently are roughly 100 students enrolled in the program; the new facility could accommodate an additional 50-75 students if necessary.

The Science Focus Program will share parts of the building with the zoo, including a multi-purpose room and a lobby area. LPS is splitting the cost of those areas with the zoo.

Glathar noted that the Science Focus Program was on the cutting edge nationally when it opened at the zoo in 1997. The innovative program garnered national media coverage.

“With this new facility we will remain on the cutting edge,” he said.

The Science Focus Program, or Zoo School, is one example of the many choices that LPS offers students for them to succeed and achieve - 39 elementary schools, 12 middle schools, six comprehensive high schools and a variety of high school alternative programs. The Zoo School enrolls roughly 100 students from grades nine through 12, both from public and private schools. Students who attend LPS focus programs such as Zoo School remain students at their home schools, where they can participate in activities, athletics and social events. Students spend part of their mornings at their home school before attending Zoo School for the rest of the day.

Published: January 22, 2019, Updated: February 21, 2019

"This facility will be a huge step forward in terms of our ability to deliver this science program to students."

Kurt Glathar, principal of the LPS Science Focus Program