Highlights of the April 23, 2024 Lincoln Board of Education regular meeting

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

Public hearing on Policy 5520 - Student fees

Each year the Board conducts a public hearing under the provisions of the Nebraska Public Elementary and Secondary Student Fee Authorization Act and other Nebraska laws. The purpose of this hearing is to receive input regarding proposed updates to Policy 5520 and Appendix 1. The input received during the hearing will be taken into consideration by the Board when they take action on the updated policy.

No one addressed the Board during the public hearing.

Special reports, presentations and celebrations of success

LPS Equity Cadre presentation

Members of the LPS Scholar Equity Cadre presented to the Board a summary of their State of Diversity & Equity Address that will be presented to the community on May 1, from noon to 1 p.m. in the Boardroom at the Steve Joel District Leadership Center, and again on May 10, from noon to 1 p.m. at the Food Bank of Lincoln.

Driving the cadre’s work were two questions: How are LPS scholars thinking, seeing, and feeling about diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging in schools; and how are scholars being impacted by the current LPS School Climate? These questions help the cadre align their identified priorities. Those priorities include providing innovative and transformative learning experiences.

The group of scholars highlighted some of their work in and out of the school district which included:

  • Organizing a district-facilitated scholar input session during the LPS Strategic Plan process with over 60 students providing feedback.
  • Initiating Equity Cadre office hours at elementary, middle and high schools to allow scholars an opportunity to share and lift up their voices and ideas.
  • With Cadre Storytime at Lincoln City Libraries and select LPS preschool classes, cadre members provided a tie to diverse literature and provided opportunities for high school scholars to experience what it is like in the teaching profession.

The cadre asked the Board to continue investing in “All Means All”, and elevate diverse and underrepresented voices through various platforms.

Foundation for LPS update

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

Highlights of the update included:

  • An update to the Fielding Dreams Campaign with nearly $6.4 million pledged and/or received.
  • There was a ribbon cutting on the new tennis complex at Standing Bear High School.
  • The Foundation is out at schools surprising educators with 13 different awards totalling $21,700.
  • Approximately 101 scholarships were awarded to LPS students totaling $170,917.
  • Meadow Lane Elementary was surprised with the Inspire School Award on April 18.
  • The Foundation will be working on aligning with the LPS Strategic Plan and identifying priority projects for 2024-2025.

First reading

Student fees - Policy 5520

The Board annually reviews and approves Policy 5520 to ensure that its policy is in accordance with the Public Elementary and Secondary Student Fees Authorization Act. This year, there were no proposed changes to the policy.

The district’s general policy is to provide for the free instruction in school in accordance with the Nebraska Constitution and state and federal law. This generally means that the school district’s policy is to provide free instruction for courses that are required by state law or regulation and to provide the staff, facility, equipment, and materials necessary for such instruction without charge or fee to the students.

The school district does provide activities, programs, and services to children that extend beyond the minimum level of constitutionally required free instruction. Students and their parents have historically contributed to the district’s efforts to provide such activities, programs, and services. The district’s general policy is to continue to encourage and to the extent permitted by law, to require such student and parent contributions to enhance the educational program provided by the district.

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

Update to Policy 2130 - Educational Equity

Lincoln Public Schools reviews policies on an ongoing basis and updates policies to ensure that they accurately reflect the ever-changing work of the district. The proposed revision to Policy 2130 replaces the Educational Equity Statement with the current language adopted with the 2024-2029 Strategic Plan adopted by the Board in February.

The updated Educational Equity Statement says:

The Lincoln Board of Education is committed to equity for students, staff, and patrons of the Lincoln Public Schools. Equity in education intentionally provides what each student needs to reach their individual potential. Students have access to opportunities through the same academic and behavior standards. Students are taught by expert teachers who hold students to the highest learning expectations, while fostering an environment for students to discover and explore their passions, while making meaningful connections, as they pursue their post-secondary dreams and aspirations. 

Lincoln Public Schools provides the appropriate levels of resources and support that result in equitable and measurable outcomes for all students regardless of their socio-economic status, race, national origin, ethnic background, culture, religion, sex, pregnancy, childbirth or related medical condition, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, disability, mental, physical or linguistic ability or other protected status.

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

2023-2024 evaluation of the superintendent

Annually, the Board of Education evaluates the superintendent of schools. The 2023-24 evaluation of Superintendent Paul Gausman will be completed and recommended for approval at the next meeting to be placed in his personnel file. A summary of the evaluation will be made available to the public at the next meeting.

The Board will vote on the superintendent’s evaluation at the next meeting.

Tuition charges for 2024-2025

Each year, the Business Affairs Office makes recommendations to the Board of Education for tuition charges for regular and Special Education programs.  This is done in accordance with Policy 3300 and Regulation 3300.1. This is not paid by individuals, but by other school districts who are sending their students to Lincoln Public Schools for services.

The proposed rates for 2024-2025 include:

  • Grades K-6: $67.43 per day or $11,800 per year
  • Grades 7-8: $80.86 per day or $14,150 per year
  • Grades 9-12: $94.29 per day or $16,500 per year

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

Promoting Engagement and Knowledge (PEaK Project) grant application

The NDE Office of Special Education remains committed to supporting districts in improving results for children with disabilities. To meet this purpose, project funding was available annually beginning with the 2018-2019 school year to support implementation and evaluation of Targeted Improvement Plans (TIPs).

If approved, the LPS Special Education Department would apply for the PEaK Project grant to support the implementation of interventions and provide professional learning opportunities for teachers. The target group will be at-risk second, third, and fourth-grade students performing below grade level. The target teachers will be teachers supporting those students across the district; and will include sessions related to the science of reading, research-based reading interventions and math instruction that meets the needs of struggling learners.  

Because the grant application deadline is May 1, the Board waived second reading and voted to approve the grant application for $313,028.

Second reading

Title VI, Indian Education Program grant

Native American students are enrolled in all Lincoln Public Schools representing about 60 tribes as designated by the parent. 

The U.S. Department of Education, through Title VI of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) provides funds to fulfill the federal government’s responsibility to the Indian people for the education of Indian children. These funds support LPS efforts in creating and executing educational programs and culturally relevant activities to empower every American Indian student to achieve their highest academic potential.

Lincoln Public Schools has received federal funds for services for Native American students since the mid-1980’s. Grant award amounts vary by year according to the total amount of Indian Education funds available at the federal level and are not based only on the number of students per program.

Estimated funding from Title VI for 2024-25 is approximately $191,755, based on the current student count of 713. Decisions regarding the use of these funds are made in consultation with the Native American Advisory Committee.

The Board voted to approve the grant application.

Juvenile Justice Prevention Fund grant

LPS Student Services is asking the Board to consider a grant application to help start a more comprehensive re-entry transition program for youth returning from the Lancaster County Youth Services Center. 

The Lancaster County Board of Commissioners annually sets aside prevention funding for services to youth at risk of entering or reentering the juvenile justice system. 

Often, youth are released from detention and return back home and school with little to no notice. This can result in the student, family and school being unprepared for this transition. If awarded, LPS would create a school social worker position that would help such students and their families to identify and secure needed supports while including and preparing the school so that all parties are better prepared for a successful and seamless transition. 

The LPS Student Support Program will house the new position and serve as the first step for students returning from detention before they transition back to their home school.

The Board voted to approve the grant application.

Strategic Plan with measurable goals

The Board directed the superintendent to bring forward measurable goals by April 2024 for each priority that was outlined in the 2024-2029 Strategic Plan adopted by the Board on February 27, 2024. 

As part of its goals for the 2022–2023 school year, the Board 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.

The following measurable goals were presented to the Board by LPS Superintendent Paul Gausman (all goals with an * asterisk represent goals from the LPS All Means All Action Plan):

Student Wellbeing and Outcomes

  • Challenging and appropriate instruction with a strong foundation in literacy and diverse pathways to graduation.
    • By June 2029, raise the LPS district on-time graduation rate to 87.0%, with a focus on reducing existing differentials between student groups.*
    • By June 2029, LPS will see a 3% increase in percentile rank in both Math and ELA for ALL student groups on nationally normed assessments.
    • By June 2029, increase district enrollment in honors courses for all students with additional emphasis on historically underrepresented student groups by reducing disproportionality in course enrollment by 50%.*
    • By June 2029, increase the percentage of early childhood students who meet or exceed age expectations by 5% in each developmental area (social emotional, cognitive, physical, language, literacy, and mathematics) as measured on the nationally normed GOLD assessment.

      Note:  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.
    • By June 2029, reduce total suspensions for ALL students by 20%*.
    • By June 2029, reduce suspension disproportionality ratios to 1.2 or less for all student groups.*
    • By June 2029, students who report feeling that they have a sense of belonging at school will increase 10% from the baseline measure taken in 2024, and the gaps in positive belonging perception reported by demographic groups will narrow by 5%.

Staff Wellbeing and Outcomes

  • Support and empowerment for LPS staff who meet the changing needs of ALL students.
    • By June 2029, increase the percentage of all employee groups from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds to at least 8.5% of the total staff.*
    • By June 2029, increase the retention rate for LPS certified staff positions by 2%.
    • By June 2029, ensure that the average compensation and benefits of LPS classified staff will be competitive with similar positions based on market analysis.
    • By June 2029, increase the proportion of staff members who report feeling a sense of belonging by 2%.

Family and Community Engagement

  • Outreach that welcomes families and community members as partners in supporting the success of ALL students.
    • By June 2029, parents and families who report having opportunities to be involved in school activities will increase 2%, and the gap in positive perception reported by demographic groups will narrow by 5%.
    • By June 2029, parents and families who report that staff builds positive relationships will increase 2%, and the gap in positive perception reported by demographic groups will narrow by 5%.
    • By June 2029, community members who report having opportunities to be involved in school activities or partnerships will increase 10%, and the gap in positive perception reported by demographic groups will narrow by 5%.
    • By June 2029, community members who report that district staff build positive relationships with them will increase by 10%, and the gap in positive perception reported by demographic groups will narrow by 5%.

District Systems and Operations

  • District systems that continue to direct resources based on student needs.
    • By June 2029, review, analyze, and verify that 100% of schools have resources aligned to identified student need, based on available funding.
    • By June 2029, increase the percentage of staff and families who feel that district systems and operations are transparent.
    • By June 2029, adopt an updated 10-Year Facilities and Infrastructure Plan and identify available resources for implementation.

You can read the full 2024-2025 LPS Strategic Plan on our website. The Board voted to approve the measurable goals.

Informational items and reports

Superintendent update

LPS Superintendent Paul Gausman provided an update to the Board highlighting student and staff accomplishments and upcoming events.

Gausman congratulated Meadow Lane Elementary School for being named the Foundation’s Inspire School of the Year. Data has also shown tangible results from Meadow Lane’s dedication to creating a strong school community.

He also congratulated Irving Middle School music teacher Mike Robb for being selected as the 2024 Scottish Rite Teacher of the Year

Gausman added, “Mr. Robb’s commitment and dedication to teaching shines through. It is evident in the countless hours he spends cultivating opportunities for students to perform and shine!” 

Gausman also reported that approximately $130,000 was raised during Saturday’s Extra Mile Walk, and there is still time for the community to contribute and help reach the goal of $150,000. More information can be found online

During the update, Gausman also invited the community to attend a special Learning Lunch. Anyone interested in learning more about how the legislative bills passed this last year in the school finance reform package will impact the LPS budget can bring their lunch to the Boardroom on Thursday, April 25, at noon and attend in person or virtually by going to the LPS website.  More information can be found on the LPS website.

Gausman wrapped up his update with more information about an upcoming Educator Interview Fair. If anyone is interested in a career as a teacher, counselor, school psychologist, speech-language pathologist, social worker or school nurse within Lincoln Public Schools, then they are invited to attend the Educator Interview Fair on Friday, May 10. Attendees must pre-register by filling out a form that can be found on the website.

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 scenes from the 17th Annual Extra Mile Walk. 

Published: April 23, 2024, Updated: April 23, 2024