Highlights of 4/28 Board of Education Regular Meeting

The Lincoln Board of Education met for a regular meeting on Tuesday, March 24, at the Lincoln Public Schools District Office, 5905 O St.

Public hearing on student fees policy

The Board held its annual hearing on Student Fees Policy 5520. 

Foundation for Lincoln Public Schools Update

The Foundation for Lincoln Public Schools President Wendy Van offered an update about its COVID-19 Crisis Response Fund. The Foundation has raised $196,000 since beginning the fund in mid-March. In March, the Foundation distributed roughly $100,000 to 231 families who have been affected by the pandemic. In April, the Foundation distributed roughly $105,000 to 180 families. 

First Reading

Superintendent’s annual evaluation

The Board of Education annually evaluates the LPS superintendent. The Board discussed a summary of the 2019-20 evaluation of Superintendent Steve Joel. Board members offered the following comments about Superintendent Joel:

  • Lanny Boswell: “Board members expressed a high level of confidence in Dr. Joel’s abilities, a deep appreciation for his leadership, and a well-deserved recognition of his sincere motivation to do what is best for LPS students, staff and the community.”
  • Kathy Danek: “On behalf of myself, and the people of District I and probably all of Lincoln, I just want to say thank you for always keeping the focus where it should be - on the well-being of the students, the people who work for us, and for bringing such great professionals into this system to lead us in a time of crisis.” 
  • Bob Rauner: “The first thing that struck me about Steve was that he would say, ‘Here’s the problem, here’s why it’s the problem, and here’s what I would do about it.’ It was very clear, concise, direct and I thought, Wow, he’s a problem-solver.”

The Board will vote on the full evaluation at its next meeting.

Ratification of Superintendent’s Administrative Order on Student Learning and Graduation

On March 18, the Board of Education approved an emergency powers resolution delegating power to the superintendent or a designee to implement response action plans and to make prompt reactions to the evolving COVID-19 virus. In response to that resolution and with the evolving COVID-19 pandemic, the superintendent on April 3 issued an Administrative Order related to student learning, graduation and other matters. Board members waived second reading and voted to ratify the Administrative Order.

Revised Board meeting schedules

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Board of Education is modifying its regular meeting schedule and will conduct its meetings only once per month, unless otherwise needed, in the interest of public health and safety.  

Because of this, the Board voted to waive the statements in Policy 8410 and set aside the existing two meeting per month schedule for May, June and July of 2020 and conduct one meeting per month - May 26, June 23 and July 28. It is the Board’s intent to resume the regular two meeting per month schedule as provided in Policy 8410 beginning with the Aug. 11, 2020, meeting, unless further action is taken by the Board or Board President.

In a related item, the Board waived second reading and voted to approve changes to Policy 8460 regarding the date of the organizational meeting, the written ballot process for election of officers and reschedule this meeting to be held in conjunction with the May 26 meeting.  

School attendance areas for newly annexed property 

The Board assigns school attendance areas to property newly annexed to the City of Lincoln. This action establishes school attendance areas prior to the sale of residential lots, allowing purchasers to know what schools their children will attend. The City of Lincoln has annexed a parcel of land, which automatically brings this property into the district of Lincoln Public Schools.

The schools assigned to recently annexed Stevens Creek Villas will be Pershing Elementary School, Mickle Middle School and Northeast High School.

The Board waived second reading and voted to approve the school attendance areas.

Student fees

The Board of Education annually reviews and approves Policy 5520 to ensure it’s in accordance with the Public Elementary and Secondary Student Fees Authorization Act. The district’s general policy is to provide for the free instruction in school in accordance with the Nebraska Constitution and state and federal law. The district does provide activities, programs and services to children that extend beyond the minimum level of constitutionally required free instruction. Students and their parents have historically contributed to the district’s efforts to provide such activities, programs and services. The district’s general policy is to continue to encourage and to the extent permitted by law, to require such student and parent contributions to enhance the educational program provided by the district.

The proposed revisions to Policy 5520 reflect changes to fees and the fee waiver eligibility to address changes in cost while remaining in compliance with all applicable laws.

The Board waived second reading and voted to approve the student fee policy change.

Proposed student calendar for 2022-2023

Each year a joint LPS/Lincoln Education Association committee, composed of parents, education association leaders, teachers, and administrators, recommends a student calendar for the Board’s consideration. This committee began work in fall 2019 to construct a student calendar for 2022-23. The committee met and developed an initial draft, which included several possible configurations of non-student days. These options were discussed with a variety of community groups, who provided important feedback. The committee recommends to the Board a 2022-2023 student calendar based on the consideration of the committee members, the feedback from community groups and the Board adopted calendar variables.

Associate Superintendent for Governmental Relations and General Administration John Neal gave a brief presentation on the process. The Board will vote on the student calendar at its next meeting.

Title VI Indian Education Program

The Lincoln Public Schools Indian Education program provides support to Native American students in grades PK-12. Native American students are enrolled in all schools across the district, representing about 60 tribes as designated by their parents. This program supports the goal of ensuring programs that serve Indian children are of the highest quality and provide for not only the basic elementary and secondary educational needs, but also the unique educational and culturally related academic needs of these children. The program is funded by Title VI through the U.S. Department of Education. 

The Board waived second reading and voted to approve the submission of the required application for this federal funding, which is $149,006 for 2020-21. No school district funding match is required.

Xerox contract renewal

The Board waived second reading and voted to approve the school district’s contract renewal with Xerox Corp. for print and copy services for the five-year period of 2021-2025. The annual cost is estimated to be $1,768,762, with actual expenditures determined by usage. 

Informational Items and Reports

Report from Equity Ad-Hoc Committee

The Board created the Equity Ad-Hoc Committee in August 2019 with the goal of  supporting academic success and improving equitable outcomes for all students. The committee also was asked to create a common definition for equity and to develop a framework for monitoring and continuously improving equity in Lincoln Public Schools. Committee Chair Annie Mumgaard updated the Board on their work. She presented to the Board the committee's working educational equity definition, which was adapted from the Nebraska State Board of Education: 

“The Lincoln Board of Education is committed to educational equity for students, staff and patrons of the Lincoln Public Schools. Educational equity means all Lincoln Public Schools students have meaningful access to the educational resources they need to achieve at a high level at the right moment, at the right level and with the right intensity. Educational equity means high expectations for learning and student achievement for all students. Educational equity allows students to discover and explore their passions and make meaningful connections within the context of their postsecondary interests and aspirations. Equity requires that these opportunities are provided and outcomes exist for all students, regardless of their socioeconomic status; race; national origin; ethnic background; cultur; religion; sex; pregnancy; childbirth or related medical condition; sexual orientation; gender; transgender; age; disability; mental, physical or lingusitic ability; or other protected status.” 

The committee on behalf of LPS also has applied for and been accepted to work with the Great Lakes Equity Center, a federally-funded equity assistance organization. This will be a two- to four-year partnership that will result in a process for monitoring and continuously improving equity within the school district.

The committee recommends the Board hold a work session in the future to discuss this issue further and to further review the educational equity definition, with the goal of moving it toward full Board adoption, as well as to review the work with Great Lakes Equity Center and discuss formation of a Board Equity Committee and future Board equity goals.

Report from Government Relations Community Engagement Committee

Committee Chair Connie Duncan offered an update from their recent discussion regarding the safety of students and adults at NSAA activities. As a result of that discussion, staff will work within the existing NSAA processes to initiate a board committee or similar effort that will lead to potential legislation broadly supported by NSAA member schools on a tracking and reporting system of unsportsmanlike behavior. Also, athletics, activities and multicultural education departments will collaborate on continued multicultural proficiency training for staff and students.

Superintendent Update

Superintendent Joel offered an update about the school district’s ongoing efforts during the pandemic. He also asked that he and the rest of the Executive Team accept a salary freeze during the upcoming budget year. The Executive Team also includes the Associate Superintendent of Instruction, Associate Superintendent of Business Affairs, Associate Superintendent of Human Resources and Associate Superintendent for Governmental Relations and General Administration.

Closed session

The Board went into closed session.

Glimpses of LPS

We open every Board meeting with a video that highlights the amazing teaching and learning taking place in our schools. Tonight’s video featured the third-grade embryology unit and its transition from a traditional classroom to remote learning.



Published: April 28, 2020, Updated: April 28, 2020