Highlights of the 9/26 Lincoln Board of Education and ESU 18 regular meetings

The Lincoln Board of Education met for its regular meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 26, at the Lincoln Public Schools Steve Joel District Leadership Center, 5905 O Street.  The Educational Service Unit 18 held its regular meeting immediately after.

Board of Education Regular Meeting

Special reports, presentations and celebrations of success

Staff celebrations

Matt Heimes - Southwest High School 
Since 2002, Matt Heimes has served as a teacher and speech coach at Southwest High School. During his tenure at Southwest, they have won four runner-up state team titles, 39 individual state champions, 379 national qualifiers, 23 national finalists and 107 Academic All-Americans.

Heimes was selected by his colleagues at the National Speech and Debate Association (NSDA) during the national tournament in June to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. Two of the primary standards that NSDA Hall of Fame voters consider are service to the NSDA and the overall history of student success in regular-season and state tournaments. They also consider how many chapter awards the nominee has helped their school earn in their coaching tenure.

First reading

Lincoln Community Learning Centers Strategic Planning

Lincoln Community Learning Centers (CLC) Director Nola Derby-Bennett gave a presentation to the Board about the programming and services provided by CLCs. 

Lincoln CLCs began serving four Title I eligible elementary schools with two lead agency partners in 1999. Over the past 24 years, the CLC Initiative has grown to its current capacity of serving 30 schools with 10 lead agency partners. 
All CLC services are provided during non-school hours or periods when school is not in session including non-school days and summer. The CLC programs and activities are designed to build on the capacity of community partners and neighborhood schools.  

Each site has an academic focus to assist participating students in meeting state and local academic achievement standards. Families of students served may also receive services in areas that support family literacy, health, other family support services and childcare. 

The previous CLC Strategic Plan was developed and implemented in 2015, and many of the goals set forth in that strategic plan have been accomplished. 

The Board held first reading and discussed the proposal to partner with the Institute of Educational Leadership and Coalition for Community Schools to lead the Lincoln CLCs in a Strategic Planning Process. The cost of the services would be approximately $20,000, and would be paid out of the CLC's allocated budget. No additional funds from the LPS budget would be requested.

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

Second reading

2023-24 Lincoln Public Schools Budget adoption

The Board held its second reading on the proposed 2023-2024 budget.

LPS prudently builds the annual budget using a three-year forecast to minimize the negative impact of drastic swings in revenue. 

During the 2023-2024 budget process, the Board considered a 14 cent drop in the total levy from $1.21 to $1.07 per 100 of valuation. 

Associate Superintendent for Business Affairs Liz Standish clarified questions and comments that arose from the hearing process.

“The total valuation for LPS increased by 22.5%,” said Standish. “If LPS were to take the full 22.5% growth in value, the levy would remain at $1.21. Dropping the levy to $1.07 means the LPS tax ask will increase by 9%, not 22.5%.”

Standish also showed how the increase in individual property valuations is impacted by the different levy rates. A home in 2022 valued at $228,660, with a $1.21 levy would pay $2,768 in property taxes to LPS. That same home may have been assessed by the Lancaster County Assessor’s Office at a value 22.5% higher than the previous year. If the 2023 levy by LPS stayed at $1.21, then the taxes would be $3,389. Instead, the Lincoln Board of Education voted to approve a drop in the levy 12% to $1.07. The amount of taxes paid by that property owner will be $2,997 and not $3,389.

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. 

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

The Board voted to approve the 2023-2024 preliminary proposed budget.

2023-2024 LPS property tax request

The Board held a second reading and voted to approve the LPS property tax request to fund the 2023-2024 proposed budget. This is part of the annual budget process each year.

The proposed total levy rate drops approximately 14 cents to $1.070022 and includes:

  • General Fund levy at $0.934786
  • Bond Fund levy at $0.118831
  • Qualified Capital Purpose Fund at $0.016405

Elementary boundary change recommendations

The Lincoln Board of Education routinely evaluates current and projected enrollment numbers to maintain optimal school building capacities. After a review of the Kooser and Campbell elementary schools and attendance areas, the Board planning committee has drafted a proposed boundary adjustment to aid in balancing enrollment.

Proposed adjustments include assigning the area from Folkways to I-80 and 14th to 27th street to Campbell Elementary School. Students and their siblings who currently live in the identified area will be allowed to continue attending Kooser Elementary if they so choose. New students residing in the area will be assigned to Campbell Elementary School starting with the 2024-205 school year. 

There were two virtual community meetings held, and you can view the presentation on the proposed changes during those meetings here.

The Board voted to approve the attendance area changes.

Informational items and reports

Superintendent Update

LPS Superintendent Paul Gausman provided an update of upcoming events during the meeting.

Upcoming community meetings about the 2024-2029 preliminary proposed strategic plan

Next week LPS kicks off the first round of community meetings to gather input on the 2024-2029 preliminary proposed strategic plan draft. The community is invited to one of four locations on Monday, Oct. 2, starting at 7 p.m. The meetings will be held at North Star, Northwest, Southeast and Southwest high schools next Monday.

A second round of community meetings will be held on Monday, Oct. 9. The community is invited to attend sessions at Lincoln High, East, Northeast and Standing Bear high schools.

More information about the draft strategic plan, and all of the opportunities our community can provide feedback can be found on our website: LPS.org

LPS Focus Programs Open House
“I continue to be impressed with the opportunities our students have to discover their passions and find connections to their learning,” said Gausman. “Our Focus Programs are one choice our students have when it comes to designing their high school journey.”

This Tuesday, Oct. 3, families and students in grades 8-11 will have an opportunity to learn more about all of LPS Focus Program offerings at an Open House event from 6:30-8:00 p.m.. The event will be held at Southwest High School, but it is open to all students and families in Lincoln. The welcome starts at 6:30, with breakout sessions every 10 minutes highlighting all of the programs.

More information can be found on the website at https://home.lps.org/focus/.

LPS Combined Giving Campaign
Gausman wrapped his report by reminding staff that the LPS Combined Giving Campaign kicks off on Wednesday, Sept. 27.

“I know you see how generous our staff are in supporting our students and families every single day, but did you know that our staff also go above and beyond and give back to our community to support those organizations that embrace our students and provide additional support in our schools and outside of the school day?” 

The Combined Giving Campaign supports LPS programs like TeamMates, Community Learning Centers, the Foundation for Lincoln Public Schools, the Food Bank of Lincoln BackPack program, Family Literacy, as well as the STABLE. STRONG. SUCCESSFUL. and Engage, Empower, and Graduate initiatives.

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 a prairie immersion field trip for Sheridan Elementary School fourth grade students.

ESU 18 Regular Meeting

ESU 18 met for a regular meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 26, immediately following the Board of Education Meeting. You can watch a video of the full meeting here after the Board of Education meeting.

2023-24 Educational Service Unit 18 budget adoption and property tax request

The ESU 18 Board held its second reading on the proposed 2023-2024 budget. The Board voted to approve the budget and property tax request.


Published: September 26, 2023, Updated: September 26, 2023