Highlights: 9/27 Lincoln Board of Education and ESU 18 regular meetings

Board of Education

The Lincoln Board of Education met for a regular meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 27, at the Lincoln Public Schools Steve Joel District Leadership Center, 5905 O Street.

First reading

District Wide Area Network

The District Wide Area Network  is fiber optic cable that connects LPS buildings in order to provide all staff and students with access to internet digital resources. The current 12-year  fiber network contract was for $8,058,028, or an average annual cost of approximately $671,502, and is set to expire on July 1, 2023.

Staff reviewed three responses to a Request For Proposal (RFP) with initial contract terms of ten years, including provisions to exercise two optional five-year year extensions.  If both extensions are executed, the proposed fiber network will be available to the district until June 30, 2043.

It is recommended that the Board award $1,230,000 over 10 years to Allo Communications for the purchase of Wide Area Network Leased Dark Fiber. This is an average annual cost of $123,000. If the two additional five-year extensions are exercised, the average annual cost of the proposed fiber network would be $120,540 on the 20-year term.  The proposed contract cost represents an average 82% annual decrease, and based on the current percentage of students receiving free and reduced meal assistance, the district is eligible for a Federal E-rate discount of 60%.

The Board will hold a second reading and vote to approve the contract at its next meeting.

Second reading

2022-2023 Board of Education and superintendent's annual goals and priorities

Each year, the Board evaluates the superintendent and develops annual priorities for the superintendent to focus on during the upcoming school year. 

During Paul Gausman’s first year as superintendent, the Board has outlined the following superintendent goals for the 2022-2023 school year:

Transition Reports
Present a midyear transition report to the Board by Nov. 22. This will include preliminary findings, emerging themes and potential recommendations based on input from internal and external stakeholders. 

The superintendent will also present an end-of-year transition report to the Board by April 25. Transition updates should include themes based on school visits, community conversations, and staff interviews; as well as, any recommendations regarding school district organizational structures, systems and programs.

Strategic Planning
Develop and present to the Board a framework and timeline for the next LPS Strategic plan by April 25. The plan should include authentic input and ownership from staff, students, families and the Lincoln community. It should also integrate and reinforce the LPS All Means All Action Plan.

The Board voted to approve the goals.

Board Vice President Connie Duncan read a statement after the vote from Board President Don Mayhew who had an excused absence from the meeting.

“Now that our Board and superintendent goals have passed, I'd like to announce the formation of an ad hoc sub-committee. The Strategic Planning Committee will be tasked with collaborating with Dr. Gausman to craft the process and timeline to develop our next strategic plan.

My memory of our last strategic planning process is that it was an incredibly valuable opportunity for our community members to express their thoughts on the direction that the district should move over the next several years. One of the things this district does really well is learning from what we do, and using that information to improve our processes. I'm looking forward to us building on our past successes and have charged this committee with keeping a strong focus on outreach and inclusion.

The committee members will be Kathy Danek and Bob Rauner, and the chair will be Lanny Boswell. I'd like to thank them for their willingness to serve.”

Newly appointed Strategic Planning Committee Chair Lanny Boswell responded by saying he was grateful for the opportunity. 

Boswell added, “Our last strategic plan was the result of extensive community engagement, including 49 community sessions with over 700 participants, as well as, nearly 4,000 responses to an online survey. The data collected through that process was reviewed by a community study team, Educational Service Unit staff members, and several Board committees.”

The last Strategic Plan was adopted by the Board in the fall of 2017. It included initiatives such as creating new focus programs, providing additional mental health supports for students, expanding the Community Learning Center programs, and addressing growing high school enrollment.

“Our District and community have changed over the last five years and we face new challenges and opportunities,” said Boswell. “The creation of a strategic plan is an important opportunity for the school district to work with our community to set the direction of Lincoln Public Schools for the next several years. I look forward to the work ahead."

2022-2023 LPS budget adoption

The Board held a second reading on the proposed 2022-2023 budget. 

After two years of a relatively flat budget, LPS is looking at moderate budget growth with an investment in staff, opening new schools and addressing previous budget cuts. The LPS proposed budget totals about $490 million. This is an average 2.3% increase over the 2019-2020 budget year.

Other highlights of the 2022-2023 proposed budget include:

  • A priority investment on staffing with an estimated 4.11% total compensation package increase.
  • Increasing the school supplies budget by nearly $300,000 to address previous years’ cuts.
  • Spend nearly $643-thousand to help catch up the CLASS plan in purchasing devices that were delayed in previous years due to budget reductions.
  • Replacing approximately $283-thousand in curriculum purchases due to budget cuts.
  • Increase in transportation services for Early Childhood.
  • Add a social worker to the Threat Assessment Team.
  • Provide funding for the startup of bowling and girls wrestling at the high schools.
  • Reduce the use of cash flow from $2,124,040 to $234,067.

More information can be found on our website: lps.org/budget.

Before the vote, Board Finance Chair Kathy Danek said, “Budgets are built on the needs of students and staff, and those needs are demonstrated through budget discussions with each school, school district staff, the community and Board members. We know that students engaged in their schools do better in their academic endeavors.”

Danek went on to highlight some of the focus programs, academic programs, activities and athletics that were supported in the 2022-2023 budget. 

“We’ve done all this while actually lowering the combined levy by about one-third of a penny. It is for these reasons that I will be voting for adoption of this budget and tax levy proposals,” added Danek.

The Board voted to approve the 2022-2023 proposed budget.

2022-2023 LPS property tax request

The Board held a second reading on the LPS property tax request to fund the 2022-2023 proposed budget. This is part of the annual budget process each year.

The proposed total levy rate drops .37 of one cent to $1.207169 and includes:

  • General Fund levy unchanged at $1.05
  • Bond Fund levy drops slightly to $.0139095
  • Qualified Capital Purpose Fund levy drops slightly to $0.018074

The Board voted to approved the LPS property tax request to fund the 2022-2023 budget.

Policy updates - 3000 series

Board policies are reviewed regularly following a schedule to make sure the policies match current practices and ensure compliance with local, state and national laws. 

Some of the changes to the policies include:

  • Adding language about budget hearings to align with new state laws.
  • Adjusting when announcements of monetary donations to LPS can be announced.
  • Adjusting bid requirements to match guidance by the Nebraska Department of Education.

The Board voted to approve the policy changes.

Newly annexed property to the City of Lincoln

The Board of Education 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 proposal assigns the newly annexed area of Lacy Addition CUP to Pyrtle Elementary School, Lux Middle School and East High School.

The Board voted to approve the assignments.

Policy update for authorization of student activities - 6700

LPS reviews policies on an ongoing basis and updates policies to ensure that they accurately reflect the ever-changing work of the district and changes in state law and federal law.

The budget for 2022-2023 includes additional funding for boys and girls bowling and girls wrestling to the list of authorized student activities. These activities have recently been sanctioned by the Nebraska State Activities Association. The revision of Policy 6700 adds these activities to the approved list in the policy.

Danek said, “The students that came and asked for these activities work hard and they want to represent the schools that they attend. That connection is really important as kids grow and develop. It teaches them about being involved in the community they belong to.”

Board member Barb Baier added, “I want to recognize the fact that extracurriculars are not really that ‘extra’, they are what a lot of kids come to school for. If we want to address our on time graduation rate, we need to support athletics, music and all types of student activities.”

The Board voted to approve the changes.

Informational items and reports

Superintendent Update

Superintendent Paul Gausman took a moment during his report to recognize those individuals who were honored by the Lincoln Journal Star for the 2022 Inspire Awards. Lincoln Public Schools was well represented during these awards. Award winners included:/

  • Excellence in Education: Vann Price, LPS supervisor of secondary personnel services and director of equity, diversity and inclusion.
  • Excellence in Philanthropy: Connie Duncan, Lincoln Board of Education vice president.
  • Founders Award: Ellie Hiser, sophomore at Lincoln East High School.
  • Inspire Scholarship: Alaa Ismail, Lincoln High School graduate, class of 2022.

These awards recognized women who have excelled in their professional lives and emerged as leaders and role models in the Lincoln community.

Public comment

There were four individuals that addressed the Board during public comment. You can watch the public comments in the full meeting video here.

Glimpses of LPS

We open every Board meeting with a video that highlights Lincoln Public Schools. In honor of Constitution week, Tuesday’s video featured highlights from UNL Law students visiting Culler Middle School.

ESU 18 meeting

ESU 18 met for a regular meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 27, immediately following the Board of Education Meeting. You can watch a video of the full meeting here after the Board of Education meeting.

2022-23 Educational Service Unit 18 budget adoption and property tax request

The ESU 18 Board held second readings and voted to approve the proposed 2022-2023 budget and property tax request.


Published: September 27, 2022, Updated: September 27, 2022