Highlights of the 7/25 Lincoln Board of Education work session and regular meeting

The Lincoln Board of Education met for a work session and its regular meeting on Tuesday, July 25, at the Lincoln Public Schools Steve Joel District Leadership Center, 5905 O Street. The full meeting videos and summaries are below. 

Special Work Session

The Lincoln Board of Education held another work session on Tuesday, July 25, to review the 2023-2024 preliminary proposed budget. 

Lincoln Public Schools prudently builds the annual budget using a three-year forecast to minimize the negative impact of drastic swings in revenue. By utilizing cash flow, LPS is able to weather volatile shifts in revenue caused by large reductions in State Equalization Aid a year after the school district may receive a bump in local property assessment values the previous year.

During the 2023-2024 budget process, the Board will consider a 13 cent drop in the total levy to $1.08 per 100 of valuation.

Two factors are impacting the tax levy this year - estimated valuation growth and the state of Nebraska’s investment in Special Education cost reimbursement from state sources instead of local sources.

The 2023-2024 preliminary proposed budget is approximately $514 million, representing a 4.8% increase from 2022-2023. Staff salaries and benefits make up almost 90% of the total budget, and negotiated agreements led to a 3.65% increase in the budget. Each month, LPS pays approximately 6,500 employees a total of $30 million each month - money that pumps back into the Lincoln through the purchase of goods, services and property taxes.

Any community group that would like to schedule a presentation on the preliminary proposed budget should contact LPS Associate Superintendent for Business Affairs Liz Standish at 402-436-1636 or by emailing lstandis@lps.org. More information about the LPS preliminary proposed budget can be found on the LPS website: lps.org/budget.

Regular Board of Education Meeting

Special reports, presentations and celebrations of success

Staff Celebrations

Kyle Poore named Emerging Industry Leader by the National Center for Spectator Sports Safety and Security
In June 2023, Lincoln Public Schools Security Coordinator Kyle Poore was named a 2023 Emerging Industry Leader by the National Center for Spectator Sports Safety and Security.

NCS4 is an academic center devoted to the study and practice of sports safety and security at the University of Southern Mississippi. The center’s Emerging Industry Leader Award recognizes a young professional who demonstrates outstanding leadership in addressing safety and security issues. Recipients also set an example for others to follow from their commitment to this area.

Poore joined the LPS security team after spending 16 years in the classroom. He spent the past four years helping to develop and implement security protocols and procedures that align with industry best practices, most recently expanding the focus to LPS athletic and activity events.

Andrea Phillips Awarded 2023 Nebraska School Social Worker of the Year by the School Social Work Association of Nebraska
In April 2023, Lincoln Public Schools Social Work Coordinator Andrea Phillips was named the 2023 Nebraska School Social Worker of the Year by the School Social Work Association of Nebraska. This honor is awarded each year to a school social worker in the state who exemplifies the hard work and dedication of the school social worker profession.

Phillips has been a school social worker with LPS since 2014 and serves on several boards in the community that work to provide mental health support and resources to children and families.

First reading

2023-24 Transportation Plan

Each year a transportation plan is prepared and presented for the school year, including reviewing all routes. District Policy 3770 is also reviewed and recommendations for operational changes are solicited from individual school buildings and various departments. Schedules are prepared and a summary of needs is balanced against staff and equipment available to the school district. 

In general, the LPS Transportation Department transports only those students who qualify under provisions of state law, including:

  • Elementary and middle school students residing more than four miles from the school in the attendance area within which they reside.
  • Special Education students whose Individual Education Plan (IEP) requires transportation as essential to learning.
  • Students who have been moved for the benefit of the school district to relieve overcrowding, due to major facility renovations and efficiency in use of buildings and/or staff.

In addition, the Board at its discretion may approve other transportation areas based upon unique circumstances and for the purpose of equalizing school enrollments and facilitating programs.

LPS Transportation transported 3,181 students during the 2022-2023 school year. Approximately 1.8 million miles were driven on LPS routes last school year.

You can view a video highlight of the full presentation here. The Board will hold a second reading and vote to approve the plan at the next meeting.

Policy 3770 - LPS Safe Pupil Transportation Plan

The Safe Pupil Transportation Plan in Policy 3770 sets forth the school district’s plan for providing safe transportation to students being transported in vehicles on regular routes assigned through the district Transportation Plan. Revisions to Policy 3770 are recommended by the Board Planning Committee and the LPS Transportation Safety Committee to align with current best practices. You can view the proposed revisions here.

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

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 recently annexed area of South 98th Street & Van Dorn Street for 2023-24 school year is recommended to be assigned to Maxey Elementary, Lux Middle School and East High School.

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

East High School Track Renovation Project

At its regular meeting on November 8, 2022, the Board approved entering into a contract with Midwest Tennis & Track for running track resurfacing projects at Lincoln East and Lincoln Northeast high schools.  Since then, it was discovered the asphalt track base below and supporting the polyurethane synthetic track surface had disintegrated and was not adequate to support installation of a new surface. An adequate asphalt base is vitally essential to the usability, service life expectancy and any warranty requirements for the track surface. After discovering this previously unforeseen condition, it was recommended to draft a change order to demolish and replace the asphalt base.

It is recommended that a change order for the East High School asphalt track base replacement in the amount of $730,603.80, plus possible allowance items not to exceed $21,710.00, be authorized and approved.  

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

2023-24 Board of Education and Superintendent's Annual Goals and Priorities

Due to the importance of the topic, the Board decided to table this agenda item until the next meeting to allow all Board members to be in attendance and hear the presentation of the annual goals and priorities.

Community Learning Center agreements with Lincoln Parks & Rec, Malone Center, Northeast Family Center, Cedars, YMCA, Civic NE, Willard Community Center, LHA, Family Service

Lincoln Public Schools has various sites throughout the district which provide services related to Community Learning Center (CLC) activities. It is recommended that agreements be entered into between LPS and the following entities to provide CLC services at various LPS locations:  Lincoln Parks & Recreation, The Malone Center, Northeast Family Center, Cedars Youth Services, YMCA Of Lincoln, Civic Nebraska, Willard Community Center, Lincoln Housing Authority and Family Service of Lincoln.

Due to the timing before the school year, the Board waived second reading and voted to approve the agreements.

Second reading

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 recently annexed area of 70th & Pine Lake to 84th & Yankee Hill will be assigned to Maxey Elementary, Moore Middle School and Standing Bear High School.

The Board voted to approve the assignments.

Policy revisions and updates

Several policy series were reviewed to address recent changes in legislation and to address the new organizational structure as approved during the June 13, 2023 meeting. 

You can review the proposed revisions here:

The Board voted to approve the policy revisions.

Full-Service Community Schools Grant

The federal Full-Service Community Schools (FSCS) program provides support for the planning, implementation and operation of full-service community schools that improve the coordination, integration, accessibility, and effectiveness of services for children and families, particularly for children attending high-poverty schools. Community school strategies hold considerable promise for creating good schools for all students, but especially for those living in poverty. This is of particular relevance in the face of achievement and opportunity gaps.

LPS is developing a proposal in response to this opportunity that will include a pipeline of elementary to middle to high school, using district and community data to inform program design. Existing Community Learning Center partners will be involved in the planning process, and in the administration and implementation of the entire five-year program. Program services must include academic, non-academic, health, mental health and other strategies to support the needs of students, families and community residents.

Grant funds will support a broad range of items, including a required full-time coordinator at each school, a full-time navigator to work with school nurses to identify and assist students and families without health care coverage or a medical home to secure these services in the community, expanded community-based contracts for school-based therapy during non-school hours, and other expanded school-based services during non-school and summer hours.

The Board voted to approve the grant application for up to $2.5 million.

Stronger Connections Grant to Nebraska Department of Education

LPS is developing an application for Stronger Connections Grant funding through State Educational Agencies, which will support programming for three consecutive years.  Proposed programming will include professional learning, coaching, and continual support for implementation of Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS) and Restorative Practices (RP) in LPS.  The implementation of both strategies provides an evidence-based framework for integration of prevention and tiered intervention with data-based problem-solving to meet the academic and behavioral needs of students. Implementation of Restorative Practices is also centered around reducing overall suspensions and disproportionality.

In addition, grant funding will provide school-based therapy through community-based mental health partner agencies.

The Board voted to approve the grant application for $1.5 million.

McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grant

The McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act is the primary piece of federal legislation dealing with the education of homeless children. This program addresses the problems that homeless children face in enrolling, attending and succeeding in school. Under this program, state and local educational agencies ensure that homeless children have equal access to the same free, appropriate public education - including a public preschool education - as other children. States and school districts are required to review and undertake steps to revise laws, regulations, practices or policies that may act as a barrier to the enrollment, attendance or success in school.

The LPS homeless outreach coordinator position works with families experiencing homelessness to arrange transportation services for children to attend school. They also work with families to provide other supports that create a more stable environment for children experiencing homelessness. LPS will use funds received through the McKinney-Vento Act to continue to support the salary of the homeless outreach coordinator and to pay transportation costs for homeless children to attend school.  

The Board discussed the submission of the McKinney-Vento Grant application for approximately $53,000, with the final allocation to be determined by the State of Nebraska after submission and dependent upon grants awarded to other applicants. This grant requires a 100 percent match from Title I allocated to LPS. Title I funds have been used in past years to cover the required match.

The Board voted to approve the grant application.

Superintendent Update 

LPS Superintendent Paul Gausman provided an update to the Board about the Leadership Day held on Monday at Northwest High School. Approximately 250 administrators gathered to hear about the past, present and future of Lincoln Public Schools.

Gausman added, “Let me tell you, we have a tremendous group of leaders in this district. They are dedicated and passionate about supporting staff, families, and our students. This is going to be a fantastic school year, and we are excited to see all of the great things happening in our buildings.”

During the update, Gausman also announced to the community district-wide expectations around student cell phone use in schools during the 2023-2024 school year.

“It has become clear that cell phones have become a distraction in the learning environment,” said Gausman. “implementing these new rules will help maximize instructional time, increase in-person communication, and enhance safety.”

The expectations remain for elementary students to keep any personal electronic devices, such as cell phones, turned off and put away in their backpacks.

At the middle school level, all personal electronic devices must be powered off and out of sight at all times during the school day.

At the high school level, all personal electronic devices must be powered off and out of sight during the instructional period. Students may use their personal devices before and after school, between class periods and during lunch.

“Providing a consistent personal electronic device plan across LPS gives our teachers and administrators the tools they need and gives our students a clear understanding of our expectations and the consequences of not following those expectations,” commented Gausman. “Students will still have the ability to communicate with families in a crisis situation. We simply ask students to turn electronic devices off and put away during instructional time. This will limit the distractions and help them focus on their important task of learning.”

Gausman also spoke about implementing a digital hall pass system in the high schools this fall. Administrators say this new system will maximize instructional time, efficiently increase communication between staff and enhance school safety.

“We piloted this program during summer school and received valuable feedback from staff,” Gausman said. “Schools will be training students on how to use the digital pass system with their Chromebooks during the first week of school.”

More information about both changes were emailed to families after the Board meeting and can be found on the LPS website here.

Public comment

There were three individuals that addressed the Board during public comment. You can watch the public comment as part of 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 Irving Middle School students racing their solar energy cars they built during class thanks to a donation from Lincoln Electric System.

Published: July 25, 2023, Updated: July 25, 2023