Highlights: 10/25 Lincoln Board of Education regular meeting

The Lincoln Board of Education met for a regular meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 25, at the Lincoln Public Schools Steve Joel District Leadership Center, 5905 O Street.

Special reports, presentations, and celebrations of success

Foundation for Lincoln Public Schools update

President of the Foundation for Lincoln Public Schools Wendy Van gave a quarterly update to the Board. 

In her report, she spoke about the Fielding Dreams Campaign that kicked off in August with a tailgate party at Northwest High School’s first football game. So far approximately $18.7 million of the $33 million goal has been raised. Campaign chairs are Mark and Chris Whitehead and Jake and Britta Muhleheisen. 

The Foundation also helped secure a gift of approximately $900,000 for the Independence Academy’s Independent Living Center. The unit is a former house that was recently renovated with the funds and is equipped to teach students ages 18-21 with disabilities important life skills. An open house for the newly renovated space was held last Sunday.

The Foundation also has helped the Elementary School Principals Network raise approximately $23,000 for Bubba’s Closet through Fund a need. The annual fundraiser helps provide warm coats and winter clothing for students who need it.

Van finished her report by reminding Board members that winter means recognition season at LPS and soon the applications for educator awards and scholarships will open.

Indian Education Demonstration Grant Report

LPS Federal Programs Director Linda Hix presented information to the Board about a new grant that was awarded by the US Department of Education. The new grant is based on the success of the previous demonstration grant and the adjustments LPS made through the pandemic to best support students. 

The grant is for five years, and will allow LPS to continue to focus on academics, mental and behavioral health, cultural supports and career and college readiness. An emphasis on helping support American Indian students as they train to become teachers is an added focus of the grant.

LPS provides academic supports through an K-3 reading interventionist, family read events, continuing the Eagle Feather Project, and continuing success coaches at all secondary schools. 

An Indian Education team counselor works with Dr. Anitra Warrior to provide school-based therapy and mental health supports for our students.

You can watch a highlight of the report here.

First reading

Lincoln High south annex indoor air quality

Proposals were requested for design and construction administration services for indoor air quality and associated improvements at the Lincoln High School South Annex. Staff recommend that the agreement be awarded to Clark Enersen Inc. for the design and construction administration services for the amount of $555,000.

The Board held first reading and will vote at its next regular meeting.

School-Based Mental Health Services Grant Program

The U.S. Department of Education is requesting applications for the School-Based Mental Health Services Grant Program. The purpose of this program is to increase the number of credentialed mental health services staff providing school-based mental health services to students in local educational agencies with demonstrated need. Credentialed mental health service providers can include school social workers, school counselors, or school psychologists, as well as, community-based mental health partners.

Currently, only 30 of the 40 LPS elementary schools have full-time counselors. Lincoln Public Schools is developing a proposal in response to this opportunity that will focus on ensuring that every LPS elementary school has a dedicated full-time counselor. Grant funds will initially be used to hire seven new school counselors to work in elementary schools without access to such a position currently. As federal ESSER funding for COVID-19 relief ends in 2024, this grant funding will also extend the employment of nine existing counselor positions in elementary schools for an additional three school years.

School counselors in elementary schools are critical to the development of a schoolwide culture that is both safe, caring and encourages academic excellence. Elementary school counselors lead in the implementation of social-emotional skill development of our youngest students, allowing them to develop healthy identities, manage emotions, feel and show empathy for others, and make responsible and caring decisions.

The Board waived second reading and voted to approve the application because of the grant deadline.

Informational items and reports

Superintendent update

LPS Superintendent Paul Gausman responded to concerns brought forth by the public during his update to the Board. 

Gausman thanked the student leaders from East High School who spoke during public comment. He also acknowledged the stress our staff are under. 

Gausman said he was proud that Lincoln High School teacher Renee Jones was named Nebraska Teacher of the Year by the Nebraska Department of Education.

“I want to be clear, Lincoln Public Schools is committed to equity for all students, staff, and stakeholders," said Gausman. "Mrs. Jones exemplifies an educator who espouses these values and supports all students who enter her classroom each and every day. She expertly finds ways to connect with her students in an effort to boost their academic achievement. Our students in LPS are fortunate to be taught by expert educators like Mrs. Jones. We’ve had many throughout the years in Lincoln Public Schools. Like Jones, who hold students to the highest learning expectations while fostering an environment for students to discover and explore their passions while affirming their identities. Congratulations to Mrs. Jones for being recognized for her efforts.”

Gausman also addressed social media posts that he saw about controversial issues and what is taught in our schools. He reminded the community about Board policy 6450 and Regulation 6450.2

Later in the meeting, Gausman boasted about the high school marching bands all receiving Superior awards at the state competition. He recognized their hard work of early morning practices and traveling. 

Public comment

There were 9 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. Tuesday’s Glimpses featured Lincoln Community Learning Center Lights On Afterschool event.  

Published: October 25, 2022, Updated: October 25, 2022