Highlights of the Feb. 13, 2024 Lincoln Board of Education regular meeting

The Lincoln Board of Education met for its regular meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 13, at the Lincoln Public Schools Steve Joel District Leadership Center, 5905 O Street.

Special reports, presentations and celebrations of success

Danielle Fulcher - Northwest High School

Danielle Fulcher teaches Spanish at Northwest High School and was recently awarded the 2023 Nebraska Spanish Teacher of the Year by the Nebraska Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese.  

The nomination letter for the award states:

"Danielle has left an indelible mark on the landscape of World Language education in Nebraska. She has not only presented captivating insights during the 2022 NDE World Language Guest Speaker Series but also lent her expertise to the evaluation of student submissions for the 2022 Distinguished World Language Scholar Awards. Her invaluable contribution extends to the 2022 and 2023 NDE World Language Open Education Resource Hub Development Cohort, where her dedication and collaborative spirit have garnered admiration from her peers and the NDE World Languages team."


First reading

Proposed 2024-29 Strategic Plan

As part of its goals for the 2022–2023 school year, the Lincoln Board of Education agreed to work with consulting firm District Management Group to gather community input and draft the 2024–2029 LPS Strategic Plan.

The All Means All Action Plan and the Superintendent’s Transition Plan are the core of the 2024-2029 LPS Strategic Plan and represent the district’s commitment to community input and equitable outcomes. Developing the draft of the plan occurred in three phases:

  • Phase I: A preliminary analysis of existing data and feedback, including a review of the All Means All Action Plan and the Superintendent’s Transition Plan happened from March to June of 2023.
  • Phase II: From June to October 2023, the steering committee worked with the Board, staff, and District Management Group to draft a preliminary proposed strategic plan based on emerging themes. They then took that draft plan to the community to solicit feedback.
  • Phase III: During November 2023 through January 2024, the steering committee worked with District Management Group and the rest of the Board to review stakeholder feedback and finalize the 2024-2029 LPS Strategic Plan.

As part of the proposal, the Board will consider an updated Mission Statement:

“The mission of Lincoln Public Schools is to prepare ALL students for successful careers, lifelong learning, and civic engagement.”

Part of the strategic plan also includes measurable goals as part of four priority areas. The specific data-informed thresholds and timelines will be established by the appropriate district teams and approved by the Board of Education by April of 2024. All goals will be monitored and evaluated by LPS leadership through June of 2029.  LPS leadership will also present detailed progress updates on measurable goals to the Board of Education on an annual basis.

Priority goals and measurable goals outlined in the draft plan include:

Student Wellbeing and Outcomes 

  • Challenging and appropriate instruction with a strong foundation in literacy and diverse pathways to graduation 
    • Raise the ALL students graduation rate and reduce existing differentials from ALL students.*
    • Increase percentile rank in both Math and English Language Arts (ELA) for ALL students on nationally normed assessments.
    • Increase enrollment in honors courses for ALL students, with a specific emphasis on historically underrepresented student groups by reducing disproportionality in the rate of course enrollment between ALL students who have completed at least 1 honors course and each student group.*
    • Increase the percentage of ALL early childhood students who meet or exceed age expectations in all developmental areas (social emotional, cognitive, physical, language, literacy, and mathematics) as measured annually by the nationally normed GOLD assessment spring checkpoint.

(The GOLD assessment is a comprehensive assessment system for children from birth through kindergarten that blends ongoing, authentic assessment in all areas of development and learning with intentional, focused performance assessment tasks for selected predictors of school readiness in the areas of literacy and numeracy.)

  • Intentional supports and relationships for ALL students focused on positive behavior to build strong and safe school communities
    • Reduce total suspensions for ALL students. *
    • Reduce suspension disproportionality ratios for ALL student groups. *
    • Maintain or increase the proportion of students who report feeling a sense of belonging.

Staff Wellbeing and Outcomes

  • Support and empowerment for diverse staff who meet the changing needs of ALL students
    • Increase the percentage of all employee groups from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds.*
    • Maintain or increase the retention rate for LPS certified staff positions. 
    • The average compensation and benefits of LPS classified staff will be competitive with similar positions based on market analysis.
    • Maintain or increase the proportion of staff members who report feeling a sense of belonging.

Family and Community Engagement 

  • Outreach that welcomes families and community members as partners in supporting the success of ALL students
    • Increase the percentage of parents and families who report having opportunities to be involved in school activities.
    • Increase the percentage of parents and families who report that staff builds positive relationships with them.
    • Increase the percentage of community members who report having opportunities to be involved with the school district.
    • Increase the percentage of community members who report that the district builds positive relationships with them.

District Systems and Operations 

  • District systems that continue to direct resources based on student needs
    • Review, analyze, and verify that 100% of schools have resources aligned to identified student need, based on available funding.
    • Increase the percentage of stakeholders who feel that district systems and operations are transparent.
    • Adopt an updated 10-Year Facilities and Infrastructure Plan and identify available resources for implementation.

Please note: All goals with an asterisk (*) represent goals from the LPS All Means All Action Plan.

You can view the draft plan here, and a video highlight of the presentation here by Joe Costello from District Management Group. The Board will hold a second reading and vote on the draft 2024-2029 LPS Strategic Plan at the next meeting.

Policy 8000 - Board Operating Procedures

Staff and the Board review policies on an ongoing basis and update policies to ensure that they accurately reflect the ever-changing work of the district.

Policy 8000 has been revised to change the vision statement to the new Mission Statement as proposed during the 2024-2029 LPS Strategic Plan.

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

Revised student calendar for 2024-2025

With the proposed negotiated agreement between LPS and Lincoln Education Association, the Board Calendar Committee reviewed the 2024-2025 student and staff calendar to ensure it would match the proposed agreement.

Each year a joint LPS and Lincoln Education Association committee composed of a Board member, parents, teachers and administrators recommends a student calendar to the Board for consideration. The Board adopted calendar variables to guide the Calendar Committee’s work in meeting the goal of creating a school calendar that demonstrates the district’s commitment to learning.

Proposed changes to the 2024-2025 school calendar to match the negotiated agreement include:

  • Tuesday early release days will no longer occur for staff professional learning. Staff professional learning will now occur during six non-student/staff work days throughout the school year.
  • The six non-student professional learning days during the 2024-2025 school year will be Sept. 3, Oct. 15, Nov. 5, Jan. 3, Feb. 18, and Apr. 21.
  • Every student calendar will be the same with the removal of Elementary Only Plan days. 
  • Fall break is moved earlier to ensure 42 days per quarter.

The Board will hold a second reading and vote on the revised 2024-2025 calendar at the next board meeting.

Second reading

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 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 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 agreement 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. A revised proposed student calendar was presented to the Board earlier in the meeting.

Other changes to the agreement 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 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 voted to approve the agreement.

Informational items and reports

Student Learning and Technology Committee

Committee member Annie Mumgaard shared an update from the last committee meeting that included an update on the vape detectors, new cell phone practices and digital hall passes in high schools.

Mumgaard reported that the vape detector pilot began at East High School at the start of second quarter. During the first week of the pilot, there were nearly 100 alarms. That number immediately and significantly dropped. At the end of the first semester there were on average only five to ten alarms per week.

A combination of new cell phone practices and the digital hall pass system in the high school are also having a positive impact on school climate and environment. Out of school suspensions for physical fights and altercations in high schools are down 19 percent compared to a year ago. The number of “D” and “F” grades is down nearly one percent compared to the 2022-2023 school year, resulting in more classes passed and credit earned toward graduation.

In addition, there has also been a 30 percent increase in the number of library books checked out of libraries.

Superintendent update

LPS Superintendent Paul Gausman kicked off his report by congratulating Lux sixth-grade student Bella Sharif for winning the 36th annual LPS Oral Spell Bee on Saturday.

He went on to recognize the 134 school counselors at LPS as last week was National School Counseling Week. School counselors are highly trained professionals who help students form healthy goals, mindsets, and behaviors. With the aid of a school counselor, students learn to develop effective collaboration and cooperation skills, practice perseverance, develop time management and study skills, and develop self-motivation and self-direction habits.

School counselors also design and deliver programs that improve student outcomes. Counselors advocate and collaborate to promote equity and access for all students by connecting their school counseling program to the school improvement plan.

Gausman added, “We are grateful for our school counselors and their important work at the Lincoln Public Schools.”

During the report, Gausman also introduced Mike Gillotti as the next Associate Superintendent for Educational Services. Gillotti will follow Matt Larson who announced his retirement in January.

Gillotti currently serves as principal at Scott Middle School, a position he has held since November 2022. He returned to LPS in 2022 from Bettendorf Community School District in Iowa, where he served as the associate superintendent of teaching and learning.

During his time in Iowa, Gillotti implemented data-driven systems to include Professional Learning Communities and Multi-Tiered Systems of Support to improve student achievement. He was instrumental in the implementation of Standard Response Protocols in the district. Gillotti also worked closely with the superintendent to allocate resources to instructional priorities identified in the strategic planning process.

Gillotti will officially finish the school year at Scott Middle School and begin his new duties on July 1.

Public comment

There were two 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 clips from the LPS and Lincoln City Libraries African American Read-in.

Published: February 13, 2024, Updated: February 13, 2024