Lincoln Public Schools: Highlights of 8/27 Lincoln Board of Education meeting

Lincoln Public Schools: Highlights of 8/27 Lincoln Board of Education meeting

The Lincoln Board of Education met for a regular meeting on Tuesday, August 27, at Lincoln Public Schools District Office, 5905 O St.  The Board will hold its next regular meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 10. 

Facility Advisory Committee presents official recommendations

New schools, updates in current schools, space for early childhood, embedded focus programs, and more – were all among top facility recommendations officially presented to the superintendent and Lincoln Board of Education Tuesday by the Superintendent’s Facility Advisory Committee (SFAC).

After Tuesday, the Board will go to work to fully analyze these facility proposals, likely trimming the recommendations to $250-290 million – an amount which would fund a bond issue within the existing bond levy of 16.1 cents – and pass a resolution in November to float a bond issue in 2020.

The Superintendent’s Facility Advisory Committee is a group of 100 Lincoln stakeholders who have been meeting for months now to analyze long-range facility and infrastructure needs to envision schools of the future and ensure that LPS wisely accommodates student growth into the next 7-10 years. 

The committee’s final recommendations – which will likely be significantly pared down by the Board for a potential 2020 bond issue – included: three newelementary schools (in southeast, northeast and northwest Lincoln); the exploration of building two new K-8 schools (in south/southwest and west/northwest Lincoln); two new high schools initially built at half capacity (built in southeast and northwest Lincoln); new athletic/activity facilities on proposed new high school campus(es); expansion of early childhood programs; renovations and infrastructure updates to current schools throughout the community, and more. 

“You faithfully fulfilled your responsibilities,” Board President Lanny Boswell told committee members Tuesday. “We deeply appreciate your service to Lincoln and Lincoln’s children.” 

LPS Superintendent Steve Joel was also grateful:  “One of the fantastic things about living in Lincoln is the response we get from the community that cares deeply about kids … It makes our work so much easier.” 

The Committee was led by co-leaders Maribel Cruz, senior leadership consultant for Talent Plus, and Nick Cusick, president of Bison, Inc., who presented the top facility recommendations.  

Finance and Infrastructure Subcommittee

  • LPS should move forward with the Everett Elementary School and Park Middle School renovation (Indoor Air Quality) projects, designated as priorities in the LPS 10-Year Facilities and Infrastructure Plan.
  • LPS should – at a minimum – invest/dedicate 10-20 percent of all future bond election proceeds toward infrastructure projects.
  • LPS should plan to fund the next bond issue within the existing bond levy (of 16.1 cents).  Based on current analysis, the net bond proceeds could range from $250-290 million. 

Early Childhood and Community Learning Centers

  • LPS should use all existing space to develop additional early childhood classrooms and add classrooms to existing elementary schools where physically possible. Consideration should be given to adding early childhood classrooms to each new facility when designing new elementary, middle and high schools.
  • LPS should, in the future and as quickly as financially possible, build a 10-classroom stand-alone early childhood facility for the early childhood preschool program with adequate property for expansion, and add more classrooms as the LPS student population continues to grow.
  • As LPS continues to grow and school enrollment shifts, LPS should continue to determine which schools will qualify for Community Learning Center programming – and look for outside partnerships and grant opportunities to support funding for CLCs. 

New High School/s

  • LPS should construct two high schools – each with an initial capacity of 1,000 students, but designed and constructed with core facilities sufficient to accommodate a 2,000-student population at full buildout. Core facilities include multipurpose/cafeteria, kitchen, library/media, administrative/office and student common services/locker area. Initially, gymnasium, other sports-related facilities and an auditorium/theater should be built to accommodate student capacity of 2,000.
  • LPS should add new high school capacity in the northwest and southeast quadrants of the city.
  • LPS should renovate specialized spaces in the existing high schools to match new high school facilities – as much as financially and logistically possible.

High School Athletics and Activities Complex

  • LPS should construct additional district athletics and activities facilities.
  • LPS should enhance/improve athletics facilities at each of the existing high schools to create equity and address needs (such as synthetic turf, if possible).
  • LPS should place new athletic and activity facilities on proposed new high school campus(es) to create efficiencies and realize cost savings.  

High School Focus Programs and Alternatives

  • LPS should identify appropriate focus programs to be located in any new high school and determine facility requirements.
  • LPS should evaluate existing high schools and identify new focus programs to be located in each school, taking into account current facilities, current curriculum or extracurricular focus, private-public partnership opportunities.
  • LPS should engage community organizations and businesses to assist in developing new focus programs that align with business, industry and community needs.

New Elementary and Middle Schools, and Alternate Grade Level Configurations

  • Northeast and East Lincoln: LPS should build a new elementary school east of 84th street and north of O street.
  • Southeast Lincoln: LPS should build a new elementary school south of Rokeby Road and east of 56th street.
  • South and Southwest Lincoln: LPS should explore building a new, flexible-platform facility that would open as a K-8 facility serving both elementary and middle school students – south of Yankee Hill Road and west of 56th street.
  • West and Northwest Lincoln: LPS should explore building a new, small-format, flexible-platform facility that would open as a K-8 facility serving elementary and middle school students – north of Interstate-80 and west of Lincoln Airport. LPS should also build a new elementary school north of Superior Street and west of 40th Street.  
  • Renovations of specialized classrooms in middle schools; LPS should complete renovations as recommended by LPS staff in the 10-year facility plan.

For more about committee recommendations, go to: https://home.lps.org/sfac/

Budget approved for 2019-2020 LPS

The Lincoln Board of Education Tuesday approved the LPS 2019-2020 budget, which provides no increase in the current property tax levy.

The proposed budget includes:

  • Funding for continued student growth.
  • Funding that addresses a complexity of student needs to promote student success.

Liz Standish, associate superintendent for Business Affairs at LPS, explained that one change in the proposed budget was necessary due to the final certified valuation increase of 7.37 percent – as opposed to the conservative LPS-estimated 6.5 percent increase. 

As a result, the General Fund budget will use about $1.5 million in cash flow, instead of the originally proposed $3.5 million.

A summary of LPS budget highlights:

  • No increase in the current property tax levy.
  • Funding for: Continued student growth, and addressing the complexity of student needs necessary for them learn.
  • LPS has seen continued growth in enrollment over the past decade: Historic highs with 42,035 students in 2018-19 – an increase of 3,000 students in five years, more than 8,000 students since 2008-09 – five LPS high schools with enrollments topping 2,000. 

LPS is one of the lowest spending school districts in the state for per-pupil costs and has been for decades – ranking 224 out of 244 school districts in Nebraska in per pupil spending, more than $1,000 lower than state average. 

In the past month, the Board has reviewed increased needs and prioritized them, leaving almost $4 million in needs – unfunded.  Tentatively funded 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.

The expenditure budget for the coming school year represents an increase of just over 3 percent.  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.

LPS has a solid process for budget development with a continued focus on stability in programming – and opportunity for community feedback.  

High-quality public schools at a reasonable price bring tremendous value to our community.  

Proposed light replacements

The Board heard a recommendation to replace 159 insulated translucent skylights in 14 schools – as a result from storm damage – a process that would require removal and disposal as well as installation.  The proposed selected vendor was SGH Redglazing Holdings Inc. from Omaha.

The Board will take a final vote at the Sept. 10 meeting.

Staff computer laptop purchase approved

The Board gave the green light – as part of the six-year lifecycle of the LPS technology plan – to purchase 3,900 laptop computers for certificated staff members at a total cost of $3.6 million.  As part of the technology plan, staff members use these computers for three years after which they are used an additional three years in elementary and middle schools. 

LPS will award Apple Inc. the purchase of 3,900 Macbook Air computers. Intel-based Apple computers support both the Macintosh and Windows operating systems, allowing the school district to maintain a single hardware platform while also providing teachers the opportunity to select the platform that best meets their productivity and instructional needs.   

Insurance ok’d

The Board approved insurance renewal rates for the coming school year – with a premium increase of $243,719 over last year – through Risk Management, a group that arranges the school district’s insurance coverage through an Owner Controlled Self-Insurance program.  The advantages of self-insurance are: lower premiums, school district holds funds until needed to pay claims, school district legal counsel is involved in all lawsuits, all claim settlements are approved by the school district, and LPS staff and legal counsel are involved in claims from the beginning.

The LPS insurance broker, UNICO, provides Risk Management with a report comparing the estimated premium costs for standard insurance coverage to the actual Owner Controlled Protected Self-Insurance program costs – and estimates savings to the school district of more than $1 million dollars per year in premium costs alone. 

Superintendent evaluation policies approved

The Board approved proposed changes in policies, procedures and timeline for the annual superintendent evaluation. The Board’s evaluation appraisal instrument for the superintendent is periodically reviewed and modified to current practice.  

Student celebration

The Board celebrated the Link Crew from Lincoln High School, a wonderful group of students who greet Lincoln High ninth-graders to welcome them and offer support. The juniors and seniors serving on the Link Crew are a huge part of the school culture, particularly in the first couple weeks of the school year. Presenters Tuesday included Jill Able, associate principal at Lincoln High, Shelley Swartz, a teacher at Lincoln High, and student members of the Link Crew: Jacob Lawrence, a junior, and Azcia Fleming, a senior.   

To view the entire Board meeting

Go to this link: Livestream.com/lpsorg   

 


Published: August 27, 2019, Updated: August 28, 2019