Highlights of the 12/12 Lincoln Board of Education regular meeting

The Lincoln Board of Education met for its regular meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 12, at the Lincoln Public Schools Steve Joel District Leadership Center, 5905 O Street.

Special reports, presentations and celebrations of success

Foundation for Lincoln Public Schools

Foundation for Lincoln Public Schools President Wendy Van provided an update to the Board about ongoing projects. Highlights of the update include:

  • The Foundation is working towards a $17 million to match the 2020 bond funds for athletic facilities. Approximately $11 million dollars needs to be raised to meet the goal.
  • Scholarship applications just opened at the Foundation, and any LPS senior can go onto the Foundation website and apply.
  • The Foundation will accept nominations for educator awards starting February 1. Anyone can nominate an LPS educator for the awards.
  • Approximately $2.2 million was given to LPS and student projects last year from the Foundation.
  • The Foundation continues to receive requests for emergency funds from families and students, but the availability of funds has dropped. The Foundation is actively seeking donations to replenish the fund and meet the needs of families.

First reading

Gift from Chesterman Co. Coca-Cola and beverage agreement

The Board will consider entering into an agreement with Chesterman Co. Coca-Cola to receive a donation of $1 million towards the Fielding Dreams Capital Campaign project led by the Foundation for Lincoln Public Schools. 

Part of the agreement says that Chesterman Co. Coca-Cola will donate $200,000 per year over the next five years. The agreement further stipulates that beginning with the 2024-25 school year, Chesterman Co. Coca-Cola will be the single source provider of all drink products in all vending machines and concession stands within all LPS facilities for a period of fifteen years. This does not include school lunch programs or cafeterias where it is federally required for drink products to be put out for bid.

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

Policy update - 5360 Directory Information

The Board regularly reviews policies to ensure they are in line with best practices. The Student Learning and Technology Committee recommends Policy 5360 on Student Directory Information be updated to ensure the policy does not unintentionally result in the loss of student instructional time.

You can view the proposed changes here. The Board will hold a second reading and vote on the policy changes at the next meeting.

USDA Farm to School Grant Program application

The Patrick Leahy Farm to School Grant Program was created to improve access to local foods in the USDA National School Lunch Program, School Breakfast Program, Child and Adult Care Food Program and Summer Food Service Program. The program will give priority to projects that improve access to local foods in the cafeterias of high poverty schools, incorporate experiential nutrition education activities that encourage student participation and demonstrate the potential for long-term sustainability. 

Staff would like to submit a grant application for up to $100,000 to support the development and enhancement of school gardens at Culler, Dawes and Mickle middle schools and Northeast High School. Partnerships with each school’s Community Learning Center (CLC) before and after school program, as well as Community Crops and Lincoln Kiwanis Club will allow the project to include agricultural education for students and families.

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

Second 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 2024-2025 school year.

The Board voted to approve closing Northwest High School to transfers next school year.

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 voted to approve the purchase.

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 voted to approve the grant application.

Informational items and reports

Superintendent Update 

LPS Superintendent Paul Gausman provided an update during the meeting. 

Gausman announced that Lincoln Standing Bear High School will be open to students in grades 9-11 in the fall of 2024. They will also expand athletic opportunities to include varsity competitions in all sports next school year.

He also informed the Board about a pilot program expanding to two middle schools. Last week, staff at Goodrich and Irving middle schools were trained on the digital hall pass system that was implemented this fall in all LPS high schools. Students will be trained on how to use the digital pass system with their Chromebooks during the first week back in January.

The digital hall pass system helps maximize instructional time, increase communication, and enhance safety. At the middle school level, each student will be allowed two student-initiated passes per day to use the restroom or go to the library, office, nurse, counselor, or other classrooms. Teachers, at their discretion, may allow passes beyond the two-pass limit. The health office may also provide passes to individuals with medical concerns. If a student experiences an emergency, they may leave the room immediately, and the teacher will notify the office. If a student doesn’t have their Chromebook, a staff member can create a digital pass at the student's request.

Gausman’s final announcement was a staffing update. 

“This evening, I am happy to announce that we are removing the word ‘interim’ from LPS Special Education Director Mindy Roberts’ title,” said Gausman. “Dr. Robert’s performance since July has exceeded my expectations. She continues to build strong relationships with community organizations that serve our students, and Dr. Roberts is highly regarded by LPS staff and families.”

Public comment

There was one individual 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 Kris Jenkins and her third grade students at Saratoga Elementary School as they unveiled the book they wrote and published as a class. 

Published: December 12, 2023, Updated: December 12, 2023