Highlights of the May 14, 2024 Lincoln Board of Education regular meeting

The Lincoln Board of Education met for its regular meeting on Tuesday, My 14, at the Lincoln Public Schools Steve Joel District Leadership Center, 5905 O Street. 

Special reports, presentations and celebrations of success

R.J. Metteer - music at Southeast High School

R.J. Metteer serves as the band director for Southeast High School overseeing marching band, concert band, jazz band and pep band ensembles. He is also chair of Southeast’s performing arts department.

The Nebraska State Bandmasters Association recently honored R.J. with the Duane E. Johnson Distinguished Service Award. This award recognizes those who have helped "make better bands for Nebraska."

Heart Safe Schools presentation

LPS Health Services Department and Children’s Hospital & Medical Center are training staff to ensure that each school in the district becomes a Project ADAM's Heart Safe School.

Project ADAM’s Heart Safe School Program ensures schools and organizations have well-maintained AEDs available on campus, CPR- and AED-trained staff, and a practiced emergency plan to respond to a person collapsing - giving staff, students, and community visitors the best possible chance to survive an unexpected cardiac event. 

Schools designated as a Project ADAM Heart Safe School successfully implement a quality sudden cardiac arrest program of awareness, training, and effective emergency response to promote a safe environment for staff, students, and visitors as outlined within the Heart Safe School Checklist. 

First reading

Newly annexed property to the City of Lincoln

The Board of Education assigns school attendance areas to property newly annexed to the City of Lincoln. This action establishes school attendance areas prior to the sale of residential lots, allowing purchasers to know what schools their children will attend.
The proposal assigns the newly annexed areas of:

  • Saltillo Express Business Park to Adams Elementary School, Scott Middle School, and Southwest High School.
  • Jamaica North Business Park to  Adams Elementary School, Scott Middle School, and Southwest High School.
  • North 70th Street and Interstate 80 to Norwood Park Elementary School, Dawes Middle School, and Northeast High School.

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

U.S. Department of Justice federal grants

LPS staff proposed writing three competitive applications for grants to the U.S. Department of Justice. The grants would assist with funding multiple prevention and intervention measures to improve school safety to include:

  • Support training on and implementation of evidence-based programming that promotes positive behavior.
  • Upgrade keys and badges for greater building security.
  • Support new positions including a school social worker, school counselor, and community partnerships with the Tipping Point program at the Lincoln Police Department and community-based mental health organizations.

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

School bus purchases

Proposals were requested from interested vendors to purchase six wheelchair school buses and six 84-passenger buses all with three-point safety belts for use by the Transportation Department.

Staff recommend approving the lowest bids from Cornhusker International Trucks out of Lincoln for $861,200, and Nebraska Central Equipment out of Alda, Nebraska for $1,286,048.

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

Proposed negotiated agreements for the 2024-2025 school year, and MOU amending the 2023-2024 negotiated agreements

The Lincoln Board of Education waived second reading and approved one-year negotiated agreements with seven employee groups that includes pay increases for employees that support teaching and learning. In addition, Juneteenth will be designated as a paid holiday moving forward starting on June 19, 2024, for employees who work year-round.

This agreement represents the largest single-year salary increase since 2004 for paraeducators, office professionals, technicians, and maintenance staff. It ranks among the top three single-year salary increases since 2004 for custodians and nutrition services workers.

“We are working to recruit and retain a talented and diverse workforce and these salary increases and agreements will help us achieve those goals in a competitive job market,”  said LPS Director of Employee Relations Blake Simpson. “I want to thank these seven employee associations for their collaborative approach to solving problems and for working with me, on behalf of the Board, to build stronger relationships not only during negotiations, but in maintaining a workforce focused on our goal of providing an excellent education to over 41,000 students.”

As part of the process, it was determined the word “secretary” will be phased out to align with industry standards and be replaced with “office professional” to better represent job functions for employees covered by the Association of Office Professionals.

As part of the negotiated agreement, LPS will assume the health insurance out of pocket increase of 1.99% for all bargaining groups. Other highlights of the agreements include:

  • Paraeducators: 7% total package increase to include a 7.51% salary increase (range per hour going from $14.64-$18.49 to $15.96-$19.82) and changes to the service year stipend (range going from $0.25-$1.00 to $0.30-$1.10).
  • Office Professionals: 4.55% total package increase to include a 4.26% salary increase (range per hour going from $18.51-$23.49 to $19.30-$24.49) and changes to the service year stipend (range going from $0.70-$1.10 to $0.75-$1.15). 
  • Technicians: 4.55% total package increase to include 4.49% salary increase and changes to the service year stipend (increasing existing levels by $0.10 and adding a level for employees with 20+ years of experience with LPS).
  • Maintenance Staff: 4.55% total package increase to include 4.73% salary increase (range per hour going from $24.78-$46.44 to $27.27-$49.76).
  • Custodians: 5% total package increase to include 5.07% salary increase (range per hour from $18.59-$26.86 to $19.53-$28.22).
  • Nutrition Services: 5.50% total package increase to include 5.51% salary increase (range per hour going from $15.53-$23.10 to $16.37-$24.35) and changes to the service year stipend (range going from $0.30-$0.80 to $0.45-$1.25).
  • Administrators: 4.55% total package increase to include 4.28% salary increase and adjustments to long-service increments.

Classified workers, or non-certified staff, make up roughly 45% of the LPS workforce totalling approximately 3,000 workers overall. 

“They serve varied and critical functions to our mission of supporting students in early childhood through twelfth grade and beyond,” added Simpson. “Although our schools will have 175 days of instruction with students next year, the work of the school district is year-round and often well beyond the instructional day.”

Due to hiring timelines for the 2024-2025 school year, the Board waived second reading and voted to approve the negotiated agreements. 

You can find a copy of the full agreements for each group approved by the Board at the May 14 meeting here. The Board approved the certified employee negotiated agreement during the February 13 Regular Board meeting. The only negotiated agreement still in progress is for Transportation.

Second 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 voted 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 voted to approve 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 is complete and will be placed in his personnel file. 

The Board voted to approve the superintendent’s evaluation.

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 voted to approve the tuition charges. 

Informational items and reports

Superintendent update

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

Gausman first congratulated East High School senior Christina Xu for being recognized as a 2024 Presidential Scholar by the U.S. Department of Education. The?White House Commission on Presidential Scholars?selects scholars annually based on academic success, excellence in the arts and in technical education, through essays, school evaluations and transcripts, as well as a demonstrated commitment to community service and leadership.

Graduations are coming up, and Gausman reminded the community about the upcoming ceremonies. He also encouraged the community that they can find the video livestreams on the LPS website: lps.org.

This is the last regular Board meeting before the Board reorganizes and elects leadership positions on Monday, May 20.  Gausman thanked the Board for their work and presented books to Board leadership that will be donated to school libraries in their name.

Public comment

There were two 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 a precision machining course for Independence Academy students at The Career Academy.

Published: May 14, 2024, Updated: May 14, 2024