Highlights of 10/27 Board of Education Regular Meeting

The Lincoln Board of Education met for a regular meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 27, at the Lincoln Public Schools District Office, 5905 O St. 

We apologize for the audio technical difficulties at the beginning of the meeting. Here is the board meeting with full audio.


Staff Recognitions

The Board honored two LPS teachers with formal resolutions that recognized their recent accomplishments. The Nebraska State Education Association (NSEA) honored Mindy Diller, a family and consumer science teacher at Lux Middle School, with the 2020 Community Service Award. The Community Service Award recognizes individual members and local associations who are actively involved in non-paid volunteer work outside of classroom duty hours. The NSEA also honored Jen Yoder, a special education teacher at Irving Middle School, with its 2020 Award for Teaching Excellence. The NSEA considers many factors when evaluating nominees for this award, including professional practice, advocacy for the association, community engagement, leadership in professional development and attention to diversity.

2020 LPS Pandemic Plan & Procedures Update

Superintendent Steve Joel gave an update to the Board about the pandemic plan and procedures. 

Joel described how the plan was developed in May when there were a lot of unknowns and school districts across the state were encouraged to align plans with local health departments’ risk dials. District leaders and the health department now know more about COVID-19 and the protocols schools use to reduce the risk of spread of COVID-19. Lincoln Public Schools will continue to collaborate with the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department if it moves the community risk dial into Red to implement plans and protocols that address the areas of concern in our schools, but that does not necessarily mean LPS would move into 100 percent remote learning for all students.

One of the things that Joel pledged to do was to utilize staff and family messages more, in addition to the website, to communicate any updates to the plan. Staff are also looking into what information can be provided on the website dashboard to help families and staff understand what is happening in schools.

Board member Dr. Bob Rauner was asked by Joel to give an update from his perspective. Rauner shared that face coverings are more effective than originally believed and students are doing a great job following the face covering protocols. Indoor Air Quality projects allow three air changes per hour in schools, which he says is making a significant difference. 

“However, no measures are 100 percent effective,” Rauner added. “The numbers in our schools are relatively low. The positivity rates in teachers and students is lower than that in our community.”

Rauner said that it’s not risk versus safety, but a risk versus a risk. He described other risks that students and families face, including educational losses, mental health problems, access to health, food and safe places for students to be during the day.

Associate Superintendent for Business Affairs Liz Standish briefly reviewed the school district’s contract tracing procedures when a positive case is reported. She spoke about the recently announced positive cases that were contracted in LPS settings and the process for making that determination. Standish also touched upon recent changes to the CDC definition of “close contact,” which will impact the contact tracing process. The CDC now defines a close contact as someone who was within 6 feet of an infected person for a total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period. 

Associate Superintendent for Instruction Matt Larson offered an update on remote learning enrollment. As of Friday, Oct. 23, there were 7,973 students enrolled in 100 percent remote learning - or just over 19 percent of total student enrollment. That is a decrease of 983 students from the school district’s peak enrollment for 100 percent remote learning, which was Aug. 21 at roughly 22 percent. Larson also emphasized that these numbers are very fluid and can vary on a daily basis.

First Reading

Changes to student and staff calendar

The Board waived second reading and approved the following changes to the student and staff calendar.

  • At the early childhood and elementary level:
    • Additional early release days on five dates (approximately 80 minutes each) on Nov. 10, 2020, Jan. 12, 2021, Feb. 9, 2021, March 16, 2021, and April 13, 2021, and
    • Additional non-student time days on two dates (approximately 420 minutes each) on Nov. 2, 2020 and Dec. 11, 2020;
  • At the middle school level:
    • Additional early release days on five dates (approximately 80 minutes each) on Nov. 10, 2020, Jan. 12, 2021, Feb. 9, 2021, March 16, 2021, and April 13, 2021, and
    • Additional non-student plan time on two dates (approximately 420 minutes each) on Nov. 2, 2020 and Feb. 15, 2021;
  • At the high school level:
    • Additional non-student plan time on three dates (approximately 420 minutes each) on Nov. 2, 2020, Feb. 15, 2021, and April 1, 2021;
  • Early release days will be autonomous teacher plan time;
  • Non-student plan time will include 90 minutes dedicated to equity-related professional learning.
  • Early Childhood and Special Education and related services will be provided to the greatest extent possible given the normal school calendar.

Construction bids for new high schools

The Board waived second reading and approved seven bids for the new high schools being built in northwest and southeast Lincoln.

The projects and approved bids are as follows:

  • Grouting Package (both high schools): Williams Restoration (Papillion, Neb.) - $200, 899.00
  • Interior Concrete Slabs Package (both high schools): Silver Ridge Construction (Lincoln, Neb.) - $2,645,362.00
  • Framing, Insulating, Drywall & Plaster Systems Package (both high schools): Midwest Partitions (Thedford, Neb.) - $5,085,300.00
  • HVAC Package (both high schools): Falcon Heating & Air (Lincoln, Neb.) - $10,143,722.0)
  • Glu-Laminated Construction Package (both high schools): Leslie Structural Sales (Omaha, Neb.) - $905,560.00
  • Aluminum & Glazing Package (northwest high school): Glass Edge (Lincoln, Neb.) - $1,198,565.00
  • Doors/Frames/Hardware Supply Package (both high schools): Midwest Door & Hardware (Lincoln, Neb.) - $1,365,766.00

All of the approved bids were the lowest submitted. There was only one bid submitted for the HVAC Package and the Grouting Package.

Both high schools are being paid for with funds from the 2020 Bond Fund, approved by voters in February.

Second Reading

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 Grandale South, Annexation Ordinance #20981, for the 2020-21 school year are Humann Elementary School, Moore Middle School and Southwest High School.

The Board voted to approve the attendance areas.

Legislative guidelines

Each year, various federal, state and local governmental bodies will consider legislative and administrative actions that will have an impact on Lincoln Public Schools. In order to communicate the positions of the Board of Education, the Board approves Legislative Guidelines that provide guidance to district staff and representatives communicating with governmental bodies. 

The Board voted to approve the guidelines.

Library of Congress Teaching with Primary Sources Grant

The Teaching with Primary Sources (TPS) program through the Library of Congress promotes the widespread, sustained and effective use of primary sources in K-12 classrooms by offering grants of up to $20,000.  The purpose of these grants is to incorporate TPS materials and methods into existing programs for teachers, librarians and other K-12 educators. School districts, universities, cultural institutions, library systems and other educational organizations may apply. Funds can be used for a variety of professional development options, such as workshops and academic courses.

The Lincoln Public Schools Curriculum Department is working with Nebraska Wesleyan University (NWU) to develop a project that would result in enhanced social studies curriculum at the middle and high school levels. This project includes the submission of two companion grants — one by LPS and one by NWU — for professional development that results in deeper and more accurate representation of ethnic, racial and gender groups.

This grant does have a 20 percent match requirement, which will be met through the in-kind donation of Curriculum Department staff in their time spent in the workshop and in assisting with curriculum development. 

The Board voted to approve the grant proposals. Both proposals are due Nov. 1.

Public Comment

There were nine citizens who addressed the Board during Public Comment. You can view the full video of the meeting that includes public comment here.

Glimpses of LPS

We open every Board meeting with a video that highlights the amazing things taking place in our schools. Tonight’s video featured teachers and students from the Arts & Humanities Focus Program. 

Published: October 27, 2020, Updated: October 28, 2020