Highlights of the 8/22 Lincoln Board of Education regular meeting

The Lincoln Board of Education met for its regular meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 22, at the Lincoln Public Schools Steve Joel District Leadership Center, 5905 O Street. 

LPS Superintendent Paul Gausman opened the meeting reading a statement from Board President Lanny Boswell who was in attendance. The statement read:

“I want to share with our community that I was recently diagnosed with tongue cancer. I am currently seeking medical treatment, and I am confident that the treatment plan I am working on with the oncologists will lead to the best possible outcome.

I appreciate the support of my board colleagues, district leadership, family, and friends during this difficult time.

While my speech has been impacted, I am still able to participate in Board work and communicate using voice assistance technology. Just like some of our students we serve at Lincoln Public School, I too am learning how to use the tools available to help me communicate. You will hear the device being used this evening when I vote on agenda items and participate in discussion. 

I look forward to resuming my full duties as Board chair as I become more comfortable with this technology. Until then, I, Lanny Boswell, appoint and designate Kathy Danek as Chair Pro Tempore for tonight’s regular Board of Education meeting. 

Lanny Boswell, President”

Public hearing on policy 6443 - Parental and Family Engagement

Each year the Board of Education is required to review Policy 6443, hold a public hearing, and approve the policy. 

All parents and family members of all students are welcomed and encouraged to become involved with their child’s school and education. Associate Superintendent for Teaching and Learning Sarah Salem outlined just some of the ways LPS engages with parents and families throughout the school year. Those include Community Curriculum Council, School Improvement Teams, Special Education Networking Program, Family Literacy Program, Title I Programs, Native American Advisory Council, Community Learning Centers School Neighborhood Advisory Committees, Early Childhood Program, and special meetings are scheduled as necessary through different groups.

No person spoke during the public hearing about Policy 6443. 

The Board held first reading on the policy later in the meeting, and will hold a second reading and vote to reaffirm the policy at the next meeting.

Special reports, presentations and celebrations of success

Staff celebrations

Corey Free - Lincoln North Star High School

Corey Free is a skilled and technical sciences teacher at North Star High School, and was recently presented with the Nebraska Association of Skilled and Technical Sciences Educators (NASTSE) High School Teacher Excellence Award. Free has taught at Lincoln Public Schools in the skilled and technical sciences field for 28 years. He was nominated for this award by several of his colleagues who all mention his leadership skills not only in the classroom, but also in helping to mentor new educators and to advance the skilled and technical sciences curriculum in the state. 

James Blake - LPS Director of Strategic Initiatives and Focus Programs

James Blake serves as the Director of Strategic Initiatives and Focus Programs for Lincoln Public Schools and was recently given the Outstanding Contributions by an Administrator Award from the Nebraska State Business Education Association. Since 2020, Blake has worked in cultivating partnerships with community partners to strengthen and grow LPS Focus Programs as part of goals identified in the High School Task Force and the Superintendent’s Facility Advisory Committee.

Blake worked collaboratively with the non-profit organization Rabble Mill to open The Bay High Focus Program in 2022 to provide training relevant to business needs. Bay High provides students with experiences and skills in four subject areas - photography and videography, coding and development, design and digital asset creation, and digital storytelling and podcasting.

First reading

East and Lincoln High choice filing deadline

Each year staff monitors enrollment trends and available capacity in schools to determine the impact on educational programs and the availability for students to transfer to a school outside their assignment area.

Lincoln Public Schools continues to allow incoming ninth grade students to choose what high school they would like to enroll in, and must turn in their High School Choice Form by January 31. 

Enrollments at East and Lincoln High continue to exceed building capacity. The 2023-24 enrollment numbers at each school currently exceeds 2,100. Because of this, staff have determined and recommended that any additional transfer requests made after the Jan. 31, 2024 deadline not be accepted. This continues to follow current high school enrollment procedures, and confirms past years’ practice.

The Board will vote on renewing this proposal at its next meeting.

Resolution for option enrollment students 2024-25

Nebraska students may attend a school other than the one in the district in which they reside under the option enrollment statutes as long as they meet the statutory and legal conditions, and their application is received by Aug. 2, 2024.

A new state law passed by the Nebraska Legislature requires school districts to adopt option enrollment capacity limits by Oct. 15 for the following school year. The capacity limits for the 2024-25 school year will be published on the LPS website.

The Board will hold a second reading and vote on the resolution and capacity limits at the next meeting.

2403 and 2411 J Street property purchase

The Board is considering entering into a purchase agreement for two properties adjacent to the north side of the Bottler’s Building which also houses the Arts and Humanities Focus Program. The purchase calls for payment of $200,000 plus split real estate commissions, and the payment of any development and closing costs. The Board’s Planning Committee recommends the purchase to the full Board.

The Board will hold a second reading and vote on the purchase at the next meeting.

2023-24 Insurance Rates

For 27 years, LPS Risk Management has arranged for the district’s insurance coverage through an Owner Controlled Self-Insurance program.This allows the school district to have lower premiums, hold funds until needed to pay claims, have the district legal counsel involved in all lawsuits, have all claim settlements approved by the school district and keeps LPS staff and legal counsel involved in claims from the beginning. 

The LPS insurance broker, UNICO, provides LPS Risk Management with a report comparing the estimated premium costs for standard insurance coverage to the actual Owner Controlled Protected Self-Insurance program costs and estimates a savings to the district of more than one million dollars per year in premium costs alone.

Due to timelines, the Board waived second reading and voted to approve the insurance rates as presented.

Second reading

2023-24 Board of Education and superintendent's annual goals and priorities

Annually, the Board evaluates the superintendent and develops annual priorities for the coming school year.

The 2023-24 Board of Education and Superintendent’s Annual Goals and Priorities being considered include: 

  • By April 9, 2024, develop and present to the Board of Education a comprehensive framework to address student behavior that includes prevention, accountability, and restorative practices.
  •  By April 9, 2024, develop and present to the Board of Education a Strategic Plan which represents Lincoln Public School’s commitment to community input and equitable outcomes, and which aligns the strategic priorities of the district with the All Means All action plan and the themes from the Superintendent’s transition report.

The Board held a second reading and voted to approve the goals.

Policy 8350 - Board operating procedures

Each year, as required by law, the School Board evaluates the Superintendent using a state-approved assessment tool.  The president of the School Board is responsible for leading the Board in fulfilling the guidelines of this process. Policy 8350 has been revised to support the Board president’s responsibilities related to the superintendent’s evaluation and provide greater clarity in the process. You can read more about the proposed policy changes here.

The Board voted to approve the changes.

Superintendent appraisal instrument

Annually, the Board prepares an evaluation of the superintendent, and the appraisal instrument is periodically reviewed and modified to match current practice. You can read more about the proposed changes here.

The Board voted to approve the changes.

2023-2024 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 proposed 2023-2024 Legislative Guidelines are the same as the 2022-2023 guidelines

The Board voted to adopt the guidelines.

Amendment to 2023-2024 pay rates for substitute and miscellaneous employees

After enacting the 2023-24 substitute and miscellaneous pay rates, the LPS Athletics Department requested pay rates be increased for the following positions to be effective for the 2023-24 school year: intramural workers, intramural coaches, athletic event workers, standard head clinicians, standard assistant clinicians, clinical additional coach, concessions, and technical support. The Athletics Department would also like to add a pay rate for the newly created position of athletic event manager. All other pay rates would remain the same as approved by the Board on June 13, 2023. You can review the proposal here.

The Board voted to approve the pay rate increases.

Interlocal cooperation act agreement for school resource officers and threat assessment officer

Every year, LPS reviews an agreement with the City of Lincoln to fund school resource officers and a threat assessment officer as part of the Safe and Successful Kids Interlocal Agreement. This year one more officer will be added with the opening of Lincoln Standing Bear High School. The 14 SROs are assigned to LPS middle and high schools, and the threat assessment officer is assigned to the school district. The officers help with the education of students, assist staff and facilitate communication between LPS and LPD. SROs take appropriate law enforcement action when situations arise requiring the exercise of police authority.

Each year, the Safe and Successful Kids Interlocal Board reviews and presents data and feedback collected by both LPS and the Lincoln Police Department. You can find the presentation from last November here.

The Board voted to approve the agreement. 

Informational items and reports

Finance committee update 

Finance committee chair Kathy Danek informed the board that the Budget Book has been published and is available on the LPS website.

Superintendent update 

Gausman opened his update by thanking the transportation staff who are working to transport students under challenging weather conditions. 

“I am extremely thankful for our transportation staff who are dedicated and passionate about serving our students. They are doing all that they can to make sure we are still getting students to school and mitigating the extreme heat on our buses.”

Gausman remarked that because of the community’s support in past bond referendums, all of our buildings have air conditioning. This allows LPS to continue serving students who may not have access to air conditioning in their homes. 

“Any time weather is in the extremes, we have to weigh all of the impacts having or canceling school can have on families. I am proud to work for a school district that pulls together to ensure our students have a safe place to go during the day to receive a quality education,” Gausman added.

Gausman also talked about visiting schools during the first week and celebrating the opening of Standing Bear High School.

He highlighted a new pilot program launched this year called the Para Pathway to Teaching. This new pilot program is a partnership between LPS and UNL to assist LPS paraeducators in obtaining their special education teaching endorsement.

Public comment

There were four 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 highlights from the first week of school. 

Published: August 22, 2023, Updated: August 22, 2023