Highlights of 6/25 Board of Education work session, meeting

Lincoln Public Schools:

Highlights of 6/25 Lincoln Board of Education work session, meeting

The Lincoln Board of Education met for a budget work session and a regular meeting on Tuesday, June 25 at Lincoln Public Schools District Office, 5905 O St.  The Board will hold its next regular meeting on Tuesday, July 30. 

Lincoln Board of Education Regular Meeting

Superintendent priorities for 2019-20

The Lincoln Board of Education Tuesday looked ahead to the proposed annual priorities for the Lincoln Public Schools superintendent in the 2019-20 school year. 

The proposed priorities are:

  • To accommodate growth and ensure that existing facilities are efficient and well-maintained, by Dec. 31, 2019:

o   Review the Superintendent’s Facility Advisory Committee recommendations;

o   Update the 10-Year Facility and Infrastructure Plan; and

o   Determine the next steps for addressing facility and infrastructure needs, including high school capacity.

  • To support academic success and improve equitable outcomes for ALL students, by April 15, 2020, in partnership with students, staff, and the community:

o   Create a common definition of equity; and

o   Develop a framework for monitoring and continuously improving equity in Lincoln Public Schools. 

The Board will take a final vote on the priorities on July 30.

Board embraces efficient, money-saving initiatives for facility planning

The Board Tuesday approved two initiatives, both measures that would pave the path to more efficient future facility planning at LPS. 

The Board approved a contract with Clark Enersen Partners of Lincoln for architectural/engineering professional services that would provide pre-bond schematic design services for future high schools, prior to a potential bond issue in 2020 – and, if a bond issue election is successful, to provide post-bond design and construction administration services.  The move will save the school district an estimated $2 to $3 million (depending on whether they build one or two high schools), as well as finishing construction earlier and more quickly relieving the high school enrollment crunch.

The Board also approved a contract with a construction manager for pre-bond services and, if a bond issue election would be successful, post-bond construction manager service.

A total of three sealed bids were received from interested construction manager contractors for the project. All bids were reviewed and evaluated based on LPS policy and state law for competitive bidding, and interviews of two of the construction contractors were held.  Based on the competitive bidding process, it was recommended that the award be made to and contract be made with the lowest responsible bidder: Haussmann Construction, Inc., of Lincoln, with a bid of $587,081.25. Haussmann built Moore Middle School and the new Science Focus Program facility.

There were some questions about the variation in the bids for the construction manager contract, and Scott Wieskamp, director of Operations, told the Board he is confident that Haussmann is well equipped to fulfill the scope of this project. A spokesperson from Haussmann explained their bid:  “We knew that this project would change the landscape of Lincoln … and we really wanted to be a part of that process ….We weren’t going to let anyone take this project from us …We are ready to provide the services in the contract.”

Bid results:

  • Haussmann Construction, Inc., (Lincoln, NE):  $587,081.25
  • Sampson Construction Co., Inc., (Lincoln, NE): $2,731,725.00
  • Hampton Enterprises, Inc., (Lincoln, NE):  $5,175,900.00

Land acquisition proposed

The Board considered land acquisition of about 19 acres – at a cost of $1.16 million – for land located northwest of Van Dorn Street and South 98th Street.  The site would work for a possible elementary school site sometime in the future – but not likely included in the plans for a potential bond issue in 2020.  The Board will take a final vote on the measure July 30.

Grant application for Project Prevent

The Board approved an application to the U.S. Department of Education for Project Prevent, a new federal grant program in response to the Federal Commission on School Safety’s final report, which offers several recommendations to improve school safety. Project Prevent intends to provide school districts with funding to increase their capacity to help schools identify, assess and serve students exposed to pervasive violence, as well as to provide mental health services for trauma or anxiety, support conflict resolution programs, and to implement other school-based violence prevention strategies in order to reduce the likelihood that those students will later commit violent acts.

LPS would apply for funds to complement the multi-tiered system of supports for behavior already in development across the school district by offering strategic activities in specific buildings. The grant requires services to be provided in high poverty schools, so LPS would focus on Lincoln High, Northeast and North Star high schools. 

Community Learning Center agreements

The Board approved $1 million in annual agreements that provide Community Learning Center services. Some of these agencies serve more than one school.

The agreements would be valid through Sept. 30, 2020.

Boys and Girls Club of Lincoln / Lancaster County


Cedars Youth Services


Civic Nebraska


Family Service Association


Lincoln Housing Authority


Malone Community Center


Northeast Family Center


Willard Community Center


YMCA of Lincoln






Policy changes proposed

Periodically, changes in federal or state law require the Board to review existing policies to ensure compliance with these changes. Tuesday, the Board considered a small policy change directed at enrolling students who are from military families, and a new policy directed at providing access to military recruiters (which LPS already does in practice). The Board will take a final vote on these measures on July 30.

Student celebration

High school enrichment opportunities through Lincoln Public Schools often offer significant lessons in leadership. Samavi Rafique, who will be a junior at Lincoln East High School this fall, and who leads the LPS chapter of Girl Up – shared lessons learned as one of the major organizers of The Girl Up Nebraska Leadership Summit early in June.

Public Comment
One person offered public comments.  For full comments, go to Livestream.com/lpsorg

To view the entire Board meeting

Go to this link: Livestream.com/lpsorg 


Lincoln Board of Education Budget Work Session

The Lincoln Board of Education held a second work session Tuesday to continue consideration and discussion of the 2019-20 preliminary budget – which provides no increase in the current property tax levy.

Highlights of the preliminary budget

The preliminary budget includes:

  •    No increase in the current property tax levy.
  • Funding for continued student growth.
  • Funding that addresses complexity of student needs to promote student success.  
  • The understanding that high-quality public schools at a reasonable price bring tremendous value to our community.   

LPS prudently plans for the long-term, as 2019-20 state aid for education is decreasing $13.7 million – compared to last year. Revenue increases related to property valuations and the use of cash reserve will be necessary to fund the 2019-20 budget.  LPS saved money in cash reserve in previous budgets to provide stability in a climate of dramatically changing revenues. 

To review:

The 2019-20 preliminary expenditure budget for LPS totals about $458.6 million, representing a slight decrease from first estimates – due to an extension grant awarded to LPS that will provide funding for two early child childhood full-day classrooms.

The expenditure budget is funded by several revenue streams including: property taxes (estimated to increase by 6.5 percent, providing about $14.8 million more revenue than last year), and state aid to education (projected at $133 million, down $13.7 million compared to last year).  The preliminary budget also includes drawing $3.46 million from cash flow – about half of what the Board wisely set aside last year. Cash flow is a tool to stabilize swings in revenue through transfers into and out of cash flow with the goal of ensuring that programming and staffing decisions are sustainable over time. 

In the past months the Board has reviewed about $18.6 million in identified needs, prioritized them and ultimately built a preliminary budget that left almost $4 million in needs – unfunded. Tentatively funded for the coming year are:

  • Support to schools to keep up with continued, incremental growth, adding teachers/staff for regular education, special education and early childhood.
  • Supports that allow students the foundation to learn, adding school counselors, social workers and health care workers.
  • Expansion with more teachers at behavioral skills schools at the elementary, middle and high school levels.

Tuesday, the Board also looked at the overall estimated LPS property tax rate, which includes other funds, such as the Building and Bond funds.  Under the preliminary budget, the total tax levy would remain flat.

LPS has a solid process for budget development, using a three-year forecasting and sustainability model to manage and stabilize the swings in state funding revenue.  In the coming months the Board will continue to analyze needs district-wide, establish priorities, develop a revenue budget to best meet student needs – and have a thoughtful conversation with the community.  The largest budget line on the LPS budget consistently funds teachers and classroom instruction – prioritizing our students. 

According to the most recent statistics, as prudent stewards of taxpayer money, LPS is one of the lowest spending school districts in the state for per-pupil costs and has been for decades.  LPS ranks 224 out of 244 school districts in Nebraska in per pupil spending: $11,508 per pupil compared to the state average of $12,613. 

Community budget conversation

LPS has a long-standing transparent, open process for budget development – inviting community members into the development of the 2019-20 budget in a variety of ways.  A second Community Budget Presentation/Forum is set for 7 p.m. Thursday, June 27, at Lincoln North Star High School, 5801 N. 33rd St.  A public hearing and budget forum are set 6-6:45 p.m. on August 13 at LPS District Office.  

You can find the budget book and work session materials at http://www.lps.org/about/budget/

Published: June 25, 2019, Updated: June 25, 2019