Highlights of the 11/28 Lincoln Board of Education regular meeting

The Lincoln Board of Education met for its regular meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 28, at the Lincoln Public Schools Steve Joel District Leadership Center, 5905 O Street. 

Special reports, presentations and celebrations of success

Jason Krueger - Park Middle School

Jason Krueger, Park Middle School social studies teacher, was named Nebraska History Teacher of the Year by the Nebraska Department of Education through the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History. The New York-based organization presents one full-time K-12 educator from each state with an award yearly. It is one of the most significant awards an American history teacher in the United States can receive.

Jaci Kellison, Lincoln Public Schools K-12 social studies curriculum specialist said:

"Jason’s high expectations for students, and his belief that each and every student can think critically about important issues in American history, makes him an exemplary teacher. Additionally, his commitment to reflection and growth. Jason is always looking for new material, new professional learning opportunities, and ways in which he can impact not only his students at Park, but teachers and students across the district."

Chris Turley - Lincoln High School

The Geographic Educators of Nebraska selected Lincoln High School social studies teacher Chris Turley to receive the District 1 Gildersleeve-Stoddard-Stone Award. 

The nomination letter states:

"Mr. Turley is an excellent teacher. He cares deeply about all his students and works to improve his craft by attending professional development. 

Mr. Turley took time out of his busy summer to attend the GEON Geography of the City 2023 summer workshop. The workshop required him to master geography content, participate in field inquiries, and create a unique ArcGIS story map. His story map highlighted the unique experiences of immigrant communities in Lincoln, Nebraska. Many of the children from these communities attend his high school.

GEON is a grass-roots organization comprised of educators committed to improving geographic education in Nebraska. The organization is grateful and improved due to Mr. Turley’s commitment to sharing his perspective to guide GEON into the future."

First reading

Northwest High School - School Choice Form 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 to attend a high school outside of their assigned attendance area. 

The proposal to build two high schools with a capacity of 1,000 students each during the 2020 bond referendum was based on current need and current student enrollment at LPS high schools. During that time, enrollment at Lincoln High and Lincoln East exceeded 2,300, and enrollment at North Star was approximately 2,200. The two new high schools were intended to address immediate high school capacity needs and relieve overcrowding in high schools across the district. 

Northwest High school opened to students in grades 9-11 in the fall of 2022. It was projected that the building would reach a design capacity of 1,000 students within three to four years. Current enrollment at Northwest exceeds 900 students. If 2024-25 ninth grade enrollment in 2023-24 duplicates this school year, Northwest will approach 1,100 students. With 1,100 students, Northwest would be over capacity by approximately the same percentage that Lincoln High and East are now. 

The Board voted to approve closing Lincoln High and East to transfers at the September 12 meeting. Staff recommend the Board also approves closing Northwest High School to transfers for the 2023-2024 school year.

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

Irving and Pound enhancement project

The Board reviewed bids to provide enhancements at Irving and Pound middle schools. Staff recommend BIC Construction from Lincoln be awarded the bid for $798,100.

The project was identified as part of the 10-year facility plan and includes updating family and consumer science, art and career and technology classrooms at Irving and Park. It will also add family restrooms in the schools. This project is similar to what has been done at other middle schools in LPS.  

Board waived second reading due to construction timelines and voted to approve the bid by BIC Construction.

Math Expressions curriculum materials

The Board was asked to consider extending the current math curriculum for two years. Math Expressions was originally approved by the Board in 2017, and it is a research-based curriculum that is a blend of print and digital resources. Current subscriptions for digital and print materials are expiring at the end of the 2023-2024 school year.  The contract extension will provide both physical activity books and digital access to the curriculum for two years while updated curriculum materials are selected and piloted.

The program is strongly aligned with Nebraska state math standards and is well-aligned with best practices in mathematics education and the district's instructional framework. 

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

Music Theatre International Grant

The Educational Theatre Foundation, the Music Man Foundation, and Music Theatre International (MTI) are partnering to provide select high schools the opportunity to perform “The Unsinkable Molly Brown” ahead of its general release through a grant. This grant not only provides the licensing for the production, but additional educational opportunities.

The opportunity was offered to all high schools, and Southwest High School has requested the opportunity to apply for the $10,000 grant.

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

Informational items and reports

Finance Committee

The Finance Committee report included the results of the LPS and ESU13 audit for the 2022-2023 school year. Board policy, state and federal laws and regulations require an annual financial audit of both Lincoln Public Schools and ESU #18. 

Highlights of the report include:

  • Similar to past years, both organizations received an unmodified opinion, meaning the reports comply with the accounting standards.
  • On financial compliance reporting, there were no significant deficiencies, material weaknesses over internal controls, and no non-compliance to report. The district was in compliance with the budget that was approved.

Superintendent Update

LPS Superintendent Paul Gausman provided an update during the meeting. He started the report by thanking staff for their work in supporting students. 

“I continue to be amazed by our school administrators and teachers who expertly implement strategies to support our students and their academic growth despite the challenges everyone is facing,” said Gausman. “I am impressed by the work being done by this school district, our staff, and the continued collaboration and partnership with our families and the community to support our students.”

Gausman also invited the community to a special Open House on Monday, Dec. 4, from 5-6:30 p.m. at North Star High school. The event is to celebrate the new addition that will house the Aviation and Technical Education Focus Program along with space for the Boys and Girls Club of Lincoln/Lancaster County. The partnership included a donation from Duncan Aviation to complete the project. 

The open house Monday at North Star High School will include tours and refreshments from 5-6:30 p.m. with a short program starting at 5:30. The community is invited to attend in person, or watch the program livestream on the Lincoln Public Schools website: lps.org. 

Gausman concluded his report reminding everyone there was still time to submit their feedback on the 2024-2029 Preliminary Proposed Strategic Plan draft. Anyone can go on the LPS website and complete the feedback survey.

Once the community input is gathered, DMG will review the information in December and the Board will meet during a work session in January to incorporate the feedback into the draft. It is anticipated the final version will be presented for Board approval in February.

Public comment

There were six 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 the 2023 Scottish Rite Teacher of the Year Lacey Eddy from Hartley Elementary School. You can watch the Glimpses video here.

Published: November 28, 2023, Updated: November 28, 2023