Highlights of the 3/28 Lincoln Board of Education regular meeting

The Lincoln Board of Education met for its regular meeting on Tuesday, March 28, at the Lincoln Public Schools Steve Joel District Leadership Center, 5905 O Street. The full meeting video and a summary are below.

Special reports, presentations and celebrations of success

Foundation for Lincoln Public Schools

Wendy Van, president of the Foundation for Lincoln Public Schools provided an update for the Board about projects they have been working on. Those updates included:

  • Fielding Dreams Capital Campaign has fully funded the tennis complex at Standing Bear High School with donations from U-Stop and another private donor.
  • LPS Career and Technical Service Organizations received a gift of $10,000 from the Foundation to support qualifiers attending national competitions.
  • Approximately $39,000 disbursed to help 171 families with emergency needs.
  • Nearly $26,000 of negative lunch balances have been paid off by donors.
  • The Career Academy has received donations towards computer upgrades and an oven for the culinary kitchen.
  • Since January 2023, there have been 30 new Fund a Need campaigns raising approximately $23,863. 
  • Spark summer programming will be located at Pound Middle School for students in grades kindergarten through fifth.
  • During the week of March 20, 135 students and staff received their Inspire Awards from the Foundation, and Don D. Sherrill Education Center was named the Inspire School.
  • There will be over 100 scholarships awarded this year to graduating seniors.

First reading

Policy 6740 – Extracurricular Activities Code of Conduct

Lincoln Public Schools 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, federal law, and court decisions.

A recent U.S. Supreme Court decision provided clarity to some issues regarding a district’s response to the off-campus speech of student participants in school activities and athletics.  The revision of Policy 6740 provides clarifying language that reflects the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision.

The Board will have a second reading and vote on the revisions at the next regular meeting.

State Expanded Learning Collaborative Grant program application

The 21st Century Community Learning Centers (CLCs) federally-funded grant program provides grants to eligible schools for the purpose of creating or expanding programming.

The Summer of Youth program represents a unique opportunity for summer learning programs to create enriching, impactful and lasting experiences for youth. The program is a partnership between the Nebraska Department of Education (NDE), Beyond School Bells (BSB) and the Nebraska Children and Families Foundation (NCFF) The goal of the program is to provide Nebraska youth in select underserved Nebraska communities negatively impacted by COVID-19 access to high quality school-based and community-powered summer programs.

Staff recommend that LPS apply for the grant through NDE to use ESSER III funds to support summer programs at 29 Lincoln Community Learning Center schools.

Due to the grant deadline, the Board waived second reading and voted to approve the application.

Memorandums of Understanding and Salary Schedule amendments 

The Educators Health Alliance (EHA) increased health insurance premium rates for the 2023-24 school year. These increases were greater than the amount assumed during negotiations. To reduce the negative impact on employees, the Board of Education will vote on amendments to the Memorandum of Understanding and Salary Schedule agreements with the nine bargaining groups so that the increase in premium rates is paid by the school district and not passed on to the employees. The total cost to the school district is expected to be in the range of approximately $746,019.

The board will hold a second reading and vote at the next regular meeting.

Informational items and reports

Superintendent update

Superintendent Paul Gausman provided an update to the Board about recent and upcoming news and events from across the school district.

First, Gausman recognized staff members in attendance at the Board meeting who were new to their roles: Blake Simpson director of Employee Relations, and Phil Skorupa director of Transportation.

Gausman then recognized several student state awards since the last board meeting. They included:

  • State speech - East won the class A championship, and 10 students brought home gold medals. Overall students from East, Southeast and Southwest brought home 28 medals.
  • State debate - Southwest won the state runners-up trophy, and three students won the gold. With students from five LPS high schools competing, five of them received medals.
  • State sportsmanship awards - Lincoln High and Southeast were recognized during the state basketball tournaments for their excellence in sportsmanship.

Gausman provided an update about The Career Academy open house event held last Sunday where approximately 600 people toured the facility. Students in grades 8-11 and their families learned about the different pathways during the event.

Speaking about the press conference he attended earlier in the day, Gausman commended Saratoga Elementary School staff, students and families for their work through the Community Learning Centers School Neighborhood Advisory Committee to increase safety as students walk and roll to school. The City of Lincoln and its Transportation and Utilities Department received the U.S. Vision Zero for Youth Leadership Award from the National Center for Safe Routes to School because of the partnership.

Gausman then wrapped his update talking about school safety and security touching on the recent school shootings reported across the nation over the last week.

“Every child deserves to go to school in a safe, warm and loving environment that fosters learning. Every staff member deserves to go to work and not fear for their lives,” said Gausman. “Our safety experts continue to work collaboratively with local, state and national law enforcement to develop and implement safety protocols and practices to keep our students and staff safe while balancing the need for a learning space that doesn’t feel scary or that punishes those attending within the school’s walls.”

He continued to reinforce that building a culture of reporting is the best tool we have to keep schools safe. Every report is taken seriously and investigated fully with the help of law enforcement. 

Public comment

There were 10 individuals that addressed the Board during public comment. You can watch the public comment agenda item 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 East High School students building a shed as part of their class project for Belmont Elementary Schools. 

Published: March 28, 2023, Updated: March 28, 2023