Highlights of the Jan. 23, 2024 Lincoln Board of Education regular meeting

The Lincoln Board of Education met for its regular meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 23, at the Lincoln Public Schools Steve Joel District Leadership Center, 5905 O Street. 

Special reports, presentations and celebrations of success

25 and 50 year service celebration

During the meeting, the Board of Education recognized those staff members in attendance who have served at Lincoln Public Schools for 25 years, and one special presentation for Jeannette Pearley who has served LPS for 50 years

First reading

Humann Elementary Early Childhood Project

Sealed bids were received on Jan. 28, 2024, from interested vendors, to provide an early childhood addition at Humann Elementary School.

It was recommended the Board approved the lowest responsible bid meeting the specifications from BluCor Construction Group LLC for $680,581. This will be from the 2020 Bond Fund and other appropriate building funds.

The Board waived second reading and voted to approve the project to meet construction timelines.

North Star High School pool mechanical modifications

Sealed bids were requested from interested vendors for the mechanical modifications of the swimming pool at North Star High School.

It was recommended the Board approved the lowest responsible bid meeting the specifications from Helm Mechanical Inc. for $599,910. 

The Board waived second reading and voted to approve the project to meet construction timelines.

Proposed negotiated agreement with the Lincoln Education Association

In a proposal presented to the Board, the Lincoln Education Association (LEA) and LPS have reached a tentative contract agreement for the 2024-25 school year.

The tentative agreement represents an intentional combination of the valuable contributions our teachers make for Lincoln Public Schools and revitalizing district practices to support student learning along with teacher retention and recruitment.

Approved by a vote of LEA members on Jan. 19, the tentative agreement provides a total compensation package increase of 4.55 percent for the 2024-25 school year, with the base salary increasing from $47,356 to $48,556. In addition, a proposed change to the salary schedule to reduce the number of steps from 40 to 25 to make it more sustainable, and target the unintended compression in the salary schedule for mid-career professionals. The school district will also assume the 1.99% health insurance premium increase.  

In addition to a compensation package increase, the proposed agreement before the Board presents changes to the school calendar that will impact staff, students and families. The first major change is the end of early release for professional learning each Tuesday for high schools, and once a month for elementary and middle schools. The professional learning time will now be a part of the six non-student days within the new calendar for planning and professional development. All certificated staff will continue to have a 189-day calendar, with 175 days for student learning. If the agreement receives Board approval, the calendar committee will meet to finalize the new calendar and present it to the Board at a future meeting.

Other changes to the proposed agreement before the Board includes:

  • An additional $700,000 towards extra standards compensation. This includes an increase in coordinator stipends from $11,329 to $15,000, and a move from 10 extra days to 14.
  • Accumulated leave payout will increase from $16.50 to $20.00 per hour following 10 years of service.
  • The 189-day teacher contract will be the same at all levels and broken down as follows:
    • There are a total of 175 student learning days.
    • In August, five days before students begin for professional learning and planning.
    • Two days within the school year are for parent-teacher conferences.
    • One day after the end of the student calendar will be a staff work day.
    • Six days within the school year are for professional learning in the morning with autonomous plan time in the afternoon. Of those six days, four will be for building-led professional learning and two for district-lead sessions.
  • Required staff meetings will be reduced to a maximum of one meeting per month for up to 75 minutes.
  • The threshold for staff to ratify any variance in a school building was lowered from 85 percent to 75 percent approval.
  • Upon return from one-year Leave Of Absence, staff will be placed where there are openings in the district after surplus certificated employees are assigned. They will no longer be guaranteed their former position or location.
  • The number of “Blackout Days” or days in which staff cannot request time off was reduced to the first and last five student days and the days immediately before and after a scheduled break.
  • A joint committee will be formed to review the LPS appraisal process, the new teacher tenure model and extra standard roles and pay.

The proposed agreement covers approximately 3,700 LPS employees who are teachers, librarians, nurses, social workers, counselors, school psychologists, speech language pathologists and early childhood and home-based teachers.

The Board will hold a second reading and vote on the agreement at the next meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 13.

Second reading

Policy series 3000 - Business Affairs

Periodically, a policy series is reviewed in order to address changes in legislation or regulation from the state or federal government or to bring policy in line with current practice or intent of the Board.  During the 2023-24 school year, the Policy 3000 Series was reviewed by staff to bring the policies in line with current practice, address changes in administrative structure, and add clarity.  The Planning and Finance Committees reviewed staff recommendations.

You can view the changes here. The Board voted to approve the changes.

CLASS annual chromebook purchase (grades 6 and 9)

The CLASS technology plan provides budget resources in the 2023-24 fiscal year to continue the practice of assigning a Chromebook to each 2024-25 sixth and ninth grade student that they will use throughout their middle and high school years, respectively.

Making a purchase at this time is necessary to ensure delivery with enough time to prepare the Chromebooks prior to the start of the 2024-25 school year.

It is recommended that the Board award the bid for $2,158,367 to Connections to purchase 3,162 Acer model C736 standard Chromebooks and 2,312 Acer model R756T touch Chromebooks.

The Board voted to approve the bid.

EPA Clean School Bus Rebate Program proposal

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law of 2021 authorizes EPA to offer rebates to replace existing school buses with clean and zero-emission models and includes prioritization for certain applicants. The maximum rebate amount per bus is dependent on the replacement bus fuel type and the replacement bus size. School districts applying directly for funds may only submit one application to replace up to 25 buses.

The 2023 Clean School Bus (CSB) Rebate Program includes review and selection by EPA, at which time selectees will then submit purchase orders to request payment, then receive payment, which is followed by new bus delivery, existing bus replacement, and project close out.

Staff proposes replacing three existing diesel school buses, each with model year of 2000 or earlier, with electric models as a pilot program. This small number will help LPS to determine any barriers to utilization of electric vehicles before purchasing on a larger scale. 

LPS will request up to $265,000 per replacement bus (the maximum allowed for the size and fuel type to be used by LPS) to enhance its existing fleet.

The Board voted to approve the application.

State 21st Century Community Learning Center Continuation Application

The 21st Century Community Learning Centers (CLCs) federally-funded grant program provides grants to eligible schools for the purpose of creating or expanding Community Learning Centers. The primary purpose of 21st Century funds is to provide students with academic enrichment opportunities designed to complement their regular academic program.  All CLC services are provided during non-school hours or periods when school is not in session. The CLC’ programs and activities are designed to build on the capacity of community partners and neighborhood schools. Each site is to have 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.

These 21st Century CLC grant applications are a continuation of grant funding for the Randolph, Lincoln High, Northeast, Holmes, Pershing, Lefler, Clinton, Elliott, Hartley, Huntington, Riley, Saratoga, West Lincoln and Goodrich CLC schools. The identified schools have specific needs which are in line with the goals of the 21st Century grant process and have successfully achieved stated outcomes in the continuation grant award. 

The Board voted to approve the submission of three federally-funded grant applications to the Nebraska Department of Education. The total amount of the three grants over a five-year period is projected to be $1,740,000. The 100% match requirement is met by the grant community partners. No financial match is needed from Lincoln Public Schools.

Informational items and reports

Superintendent Update 

LPS Superintendent Paul Gausman provided an update during the meeting. 

Gausman reminded the Board and community that the High School Choice Form deadline has been extended to Monday, Feb. 5. This is due to several information nights being rescheduled because of weather challenges. This change will give families and students plenty of time to attend all of the informational open houses that had to be rescheduled, allowing them to have conversations before choosing their high school experience.

This is National School Board Appreciation Week and Gausman took a moment during his update to thank the Board for their service.

“Our community may need to be reminded that our Board members are full-time volunteers. They are not paid for the countless hours they dedicate to learning about our school district from students, staff, and families,” added Gausman. “They work through complex issues by attending committee meetings, reviewing pages upon pages of information, and listening to many stakeholders through conversations and emails - each with differing opinions. Our Board members do all that while keeping the mission of serving every student - all 42,000 - when making decisions.”

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 the Aviation Focus Program Open House at North Star High School. 

Published: January 23, 2024, Updated: January 24, 2024