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EdNotes Express

Lincoln Public Schools Communication Services continues to look for the most effective way to provide you with information.  EdNotes is written and published specifically for the faculty and staff of Lincoln Public Schools.

If you have information you would like to include, please email Mary Kay Roth at mkroth@lps.org.

Second Learning Lunch of LPS Season: ‘Seeds of Hope’ viewing opportunity < New

The second Lincoln Public Schools Learning Lunch of the 2017-18 season will happen at 12:15 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 26 with the film, “Seeds of Hope,” a video from Nebraska Loves Public Schools featuring LPS staff members. The Learning Lunch will also include remarks from special guest Oscar Pohirieth, LPS Cultural Specialist and Coordinator for the Bilingual Liaison Program. 

LPS Learning Lunches, open to the Lincoln community, are generally held on the last Tuesday of the month in the Board Room at LPS District Office, 5905 O St.  Doors to the Board Room open at noon, the program begins at 12:15 p.m., questions-and-answers happen at 12:45 p.m. Please bring your own lunch – we’ll provide dessert.

The rest of the 2017-18 season:

  • Tuesday, Oct. 24: School Meals: So much more than Chili and Cinnamon Rolls, Edith Zumwalt, director of Nutritional Services at LPS.  * Serving chili and cinnamon rolls!
  •  Wednesday, Nov. 29: Social Emotional Learning: What is it and what does it look like at LPS, Carrie Erks, LPS School Social Worker.  
  • Tuesday, Dec. 19:  Restoring Calm: LPS Response to Crisis, Brenda Leggiadro, LPS supervisor for Counselors and Social Workers; and Ursula Vernon-Hansen, facilitator, LPS Crisis Response Team.
  • Tuesday, Jan. 23: Success with our Scholars, featuring LPS students and Pete Ferguson, coordinator, LPS Youth Development Team.
  • Tuesday, Feb. 27: Kids vs. adults in LPS Spelling Bee, LPS Spelling Bee champions compete with LPS employees, Mindy Murphy, curriculum specialist, Secondary English Language Arts.
  • Tuesday, March 27: Developing Young Men and Women, featuring Huntington Elementary School children and Rik Devney, Huntington principal. 
  • Tuesday, April 24: Great Year of Achievement, highlighting LPS special education programs at Sherrill, Nuernberger and Yankee Hill Education Centers – Jane Stavem, associate superintendent of Instruction at LPS.
  • Tuesday, May 15: Making Music, UKE can do it!  Come try your musical talents with ukuleles, Lance Nielsen, curriculum specialist for Music at LPS.

Posted on September 18, 2017


Staying focused on safety during emergencies

Lincoln Public Schools staged an emergency exercise on Friday morning that focused on the process after the evacuation of a school, when parents would need to pick up their children at a safe, alternative site.

Friday’s exercise involved more than 100 4th- and 5th-grade students from Randolph Elementary School, who were bused to Lincoln Southwest High School because of a mock emergency. Southwest, due to its size, design and security features, is where all elementary and middle schools would relocate during a serious emergency.

The exercise is part of the district’s continuous efforts to plan for the unexpected and ensure the safety of its students, said LPS Director of Security Joseph Wright. All LPS schools have evacuation plans in place, but Friday’s exercise took those plans one step further - to the “reunification” phase.

“What we’d like parents to know is that we’re looking closely at this process and that we have a plan in place to handle a serious situation,” Wright explained.

The exercise’s primary purpose was to identify potential issues with the school district’s reunification plan - reuniting students and families after a possible crisis - and address them before a real emergency occurs. Representatives from numerous local and state agencies were on hand to offer feedback, including the Lincoln Police and Fire departments, Lancaster County Emergency Management and the Nebraska Department of Education.

“This is a work in progress,” Wright said. “That’s why we’re doing this - to get feedback from as many people as possible.”

Randolph students stayed with their teachers and watched a movie in the main gym for about an hour while most of the drill occurred - just outside the gym in the hallway and south entrance area. LPS staff posed as parents arriving at the school and were led through the process of individually being reunified with their children.

“If we are confronted with this situation, we need to safeguard the students and their environment so we can make a controlled handoff to their parents,” Wright said.

Southwest Principal Mike Gillotti played an integral role in planning and carrying out Friday’s exercise, which he deemed a success.

“As a district goes, we are way out in front as far as how we’re planning for this.”

Posted on September 15, 2017


LPS students teach lessons to US Secretary of Education

Check out more videos of the tour at the bottom of the page.

Lincoln Public Schools Science Focus Program students offered a few lessons in quality education Thursday to U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos on her visit to the Zoo School.

DeVos spent about two hours at the school, an LPS focus program located at the Lincoln Children’s Zoo. She visited classrooms and talked with students and teachers, who explained - and showed - the unique ways the school combines classroom learning with hands-on experience at the zoo.

“It’s about impossible for her to come here and not fall in love with our school,” said Kaitlyn, a 12th-grade Zoo School student whose home school is Lincoln High School. “If she listened she knows what a great opportunity this is.”

DeVos’ visit was part of her six-state “Rethink Education” tour. LPS Superintendent Steve Joel kicked off her visit to the Zoo School with an overview of the school district and the many choices offered to LPS students.

Click here to see the press conference with LPS Superintendent Steve Joel on the announcement of the Secretary's visit.

“I think by the time you’re finished with your visit here today you will see that we are rethinking education, within Lincoln and the entire state of Nebraska,” Joel said.

He noted that DeVos’ visit to the Zoo School was a great opportunity to showcase one of the many quality public education options offered in Lincoln and throughout the state.

“Choice is alive and well in Lincoln Public Schools, as well as the state of Nebraska,” he said. “And none of this is possible if we didn’t live in a community and a state where people value public education and they roll up their sleeves to support it.”

DeVos said she appreciated the opportunity to talk to students and hear from them about what makes Zoo School special.  “Schools here in Lincoln are a good example of how they can meet students’ needs and do things differently,” DeVos said.

The 20-year-old Zoo School is one example of the many choices that LPS offers students for them to succeed and achieve - 39 elementary schools, 12 middle schools, six comprehensive high schools and a variety of high school alternative programs.

The Zoo School currently enrolls 105 students from grades nine through 12, both from public and private schools. Students who attend LPS focus programs such as the Zoo School remain students at their home schools, where they can participate in activities, athletics and social events.

Posted on September 14, 2017


LPS announces new director of Community Learning Centers


Nola Derby-Bennett has been selected as the new director of Community Learning Centers (CLC) at Lincoln Public Schools, the school district announced Tuesday.  While the position is held by Lincoln Public Schools, the CLC director position is also supported by nearly a dozen lead agencies, many other community partners, the Lincoln Community Foundation and the city of Lincoln. 

"We are excited that Nola Derby-Bennett will be joining the Community Learning Center team," said Steve Joel, superintendent of LPS. "She brings a vast background working effectively with individuals and groups that serve children and families.   Her knowledge of the Lincoln community and our schools will be a major asset as she provides leadership to help our community sustain and grow Lincoln’s nationally recognized CLCs that are making a difference in the lives of our students, families, and community members everyday."

Lincoln Mayor Chris Beutler said:  “This is an exciting time for the CLC initiative, and Ms. Derby-Bennett’s experience, leadership and commitment to the community will help take CLC’s to the next level.  She has outstanding credentials, and I look forward to working with her.  I also want to thank Lea Ann Johnson for her years of dedication to Lincoln’s children, families and neighborhoods.”

Jim Blue, executive director of CEDARS, which is the lead agency partners at the Clinton and Hartley elementary school CLCs:  "Community Learning Centers are vital to our community and critically important to thousands of Lincoln's children and families every day.  Nola, with her talent and passion, will be a great leader. We are excited to work with her."

Derby-Bennett is now the executive director of The Hub, a Central Access Point for Young Adults in the Lincoln community, and has helped develop, grow and lead the non-profit agency.   

She also has served as an adjunct instructor for the College of St. Mary, and worked in Special Education for Crete Public Schools.

She has a Bachelor’s Degree from the College of St. Mary and a Master’s Degree from Doane College.

 

Posted on September 12, 2017


Highlights of 9/12 Lincoln Board of Education meeting

Highlights of 9/12 Lincoln Board of Education meeting

The Lincoln Board of Education held a regular meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 12, at Lincoln Public Schools District Office, 5905 O St. The Board will hold its next meeting 6 p.m. Sept. 26.

Highlights of 9/12 Lincoln Board of Education regular meeting

Betsy DeVos visit

At the Lincoln Board of Education meeting Tuesday, Lincoln Public Schools Superintendent Steve Joel addressed the issue of the upcoming visit of U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos - coming to the LPS Science Focus Program on Thursday - saying “we consider this an opportunity to showcase one of our great programs, and our great school district.”

He stressed that the Secretary’s office had approached LPS – the school district did not extend an invitation – and said “we’re gearing up to make this a positive experience.  This is an opportunity to talk about why public education works in Lincoln…We have lots of choices in Lincoln and we anticipate the Secretary will see public education in action. 

He stressed that LPS “does not have our blinders on.  We know there is an agenda here…But again, the Secretary is coming to a very successful school district and we intend to show our best when she’s here.”

He stressed there would be security and adult supervision Thursday to provide “a safe place to be.”

Board member Annie Mumgaard asked questions about policy, making sure students are in a safe and secure environment, and asked

that LPS extend the Secretary an invitation – in one year – to come back and visit the entire school district, not just one program, “so she can see the whole picture.”

Board member Barb Baier said she had concerns about the visit, but added, “I do believe there is an opportunity here to provide information about a great school district.” 

She took a moment to praise the LPS public educational system and community support – and suggested a follow-up letter to the Secretary emphasizing the value of having a unified public school district.

Board member Matt Schulte said he is glad “we are welcoming the Secretary into our community.  We have a great school district and this is a neat opportunity to show a spotlight on the choices we do offer in LPS. It is also a great opportunity for students to show they respect our leaders, even if we disagree.”

Board President Lanny Boswell said he believes this is an “opportunity for the Secretary to see a high-quality public school program that’s part of a public school district.”

Policy changes

Several policy changes were discussed related to:

  • Instructional Program: Technology Resources and Internet Safety Policy
  • Instructional Program: Parental Involvement

The Board will vote final approval at the Sept. 26 meeting.

Attendance areas approved for new annexed property

The Board approved attendance areas for newly annexed city property in the Iron Ridge area located south of Rokeby Road, east and west of South 27 street: Adams Elementary School, Scott Middle School and Lincoln Southwest High School.

 

Posted on September 12, 2017


Secretary of Education DeVos visit to LPS confirmed

Lincoln Public Schools has confirmed that Betsy DeVos, the U.S. Secretary of Education, has requested to – and will visit the school district’s Science Focus Program (Zoo School) on Thursday, Sept. 14. 

DeVos will take a tour of the Zoo School and have a conversation with students and staff members.

“Our school district looks upon this visit as an exciting opportunity to share information about our Science Focus Program – and our fine Lincoln Public Schools public education system – with the U.S. Secretary of Education,” said Steve Joel, superintendent of LPS.  “The students at Lincoln Public Schools have a wide variety of options and possibilities for their public education: through a rich array of LPS programs, as well as partnerships with local business and industry, higher education institutions, and private and parochial schools.”

The DeVos office requested the visit and will release details of the trip later this week. Most stops across the tour will have news media opportunities, and the DeVos office will also release those details later this week. 

The Lincoln Children’s Zoo is closing the zoo all of Thursday.

Posted on September 12, 2017


LPS contacted by Secretary of Education DeVos

Lincoln Public Schools has been contacted by the office of Betsy DeVos, the U.S. Secretary of Education.

The DeVos office is inquiring about a possible visit to the Lincoln Public Schools Science Focus Program (Zoo School) on Sept. 14.

The LPS school district is currently working with the DeVos office to work out details and finalize the trip.  At this point no more details are available. 

The final announcement will be released by the DeVos office next week.

 

 

Posted on September 08, 2017


Johnson retiring as Director of Community Learning Centers

Congratulations to Lea Ann Johnson, who will be retiring from her position of Director of the Lincoln Community Learning Centers on October 1, 2017.  Lea Ann began her LPS career in 2001 as the CLC strategy was being established.  Lea Ann has been the director of the nationally recognized Lincoln CLCs since 2012.  A reception to honor her work, leadership, and friendships across the city is being held at the Huntington CLC at Huntington Elementary School, 2900 N. 46th Street, Lincoln, Nebraska from 4:30-6:00 p.m. (with a short program at 5:00 p.m.).  Refreshments will be served.

Posted on September 06, 2017


Marilyn Moore to be Recognized as Leadership Lincoln Distinguished Alumni 2017

The Leadership Lincoln Distinguished Alumni for 2017 is Dr. Marilyn Moore, a graduate of the Leadership Lincoln Executive Series second class. Moore served the Lincoln Public Schools as teacher and administrator for forty years and topped her career by serving as President of the Bryan College of Health Sciences. Moore will be recognized during the State of the City event scheduled for Friday, September 22.

“Dr. Moore exemplifies what we seek to accomplish through Leadership Lincoln,” noted Executive Director Mick Hale. “Throughout her professional life, she served the faculty, staff and students of Lincoln Public Schools. Not only that, but she was active in and served on the board of many organizations serving our community.”

Moore, a native Nebraskan, has been involved in more than a dozen organizations including The Lincoln Children’s Museum, The Food Bank of Lincoln, The Lied Center Advisory Board and she has served in a number of volunteer positions in her church.

The State of the City event is an annual joint effort of the City of Lincoln and Leadership Lincoln. It serves as a time for the citizens of Lincoln to gather and celebrate the past year and to look forward with anticipation to the coming year. Lincoln Mayor Chris Beutler will address the gathering, sharing some items from the past year that are worthy of celebration and looking ahead to what the future holds as Lincoln continues to grow and thrive. Leadership Lincoln will recognize Moore’s contribution to our community and introduce the more than 100 participants taking part in programs this year.

“I’ve been in this community since I came to college,” said Moore, “and I thought I knew Lincoln well. When I participated in the Leadership Lincoln Executive Series, I discovered I didn’t know the details and I didn’t know the inner workings of different organizations in the community. Leadership Lincoln helped me to get to know the different leaders within the community it helped me figure out my role within this community as a professional with Lincoln Public Schools.”

The Leadership Lincoln Executive Series, now in its 30th year, is designed to serve Senior executives from all aspects of the Lincoln community, both new to town and long-time residents. The mission is to help them gain a deeper understand of the issues facing Lincoln and at the same time make connections across all levels and types of organizations that make up our city. Participants explore leadership skills, group dynamics and community development issues and learn about the various organizations, educational institutions, governmental entities and businesses in Lincoln.

The public is invited to participate in the event which will be at The Graduate Hotel, 141 N. 9th in downtown Lincoln. Tickets for the breakfast which begins at 7:15 AM are available online at www.leadershiplincoln.org. A few seats will be set aside for those who don’t want the breakfast but would like to participate in the program beginning at 7:45.

Posted on September 06, 2017


Another first day in the books

The 2017-18 school year kicked off for kindergarten through ninth grade students at Lincoln Public Schools on Monday, August 14. It was an exciting day across the district with the new Moore Middle School opening its doors to students for the very first time, and even a first year teacher at Maxey Elementary School getting a special surprise. 

Check out all the family and staff submitted first day photos here.

Posted on September 04, 2017


Highlights of 8/31 Lincoln Board of Education work session

The Lincoln Board of Education held a work session – focused on strategic planning – on Thursday, August 31 at Lincoln Public Schools District Office, 5905 O St.

The Lincoln Board of Education brainstormed a broad range of possible goals as part of the new strategic planning process Thursday evening in a four-hour work ession to suggest, discuss and start to augment five themes previosly developed to help chart the course for the school district over the next five years.

“This is a milestone moment,” Board President Lanny Boswell said, “representing the continuation of so much hard work.”

“I see our job as Board members as developing goals that help guide our work over the next five years – but goals that have been informed by the community,” added Board Vice President Don Mayhew.

The long list of goals discussed Thursday were then specifically tied to the appropriate of five themes – themes developed as a result of intense community participation in an initiative that began early last school year and included 49 community sessions and 3,800 responses from community citizens. 

These proposals will now be turned over to appropriate Board committees for further discussion, development and considerable focus – to solidify goals, action steps and ways to measure and define the success. The brainstormed goals from Thursday will likely be seriously cut down to one to three goals per theme.  The strategic plan is expected to come back to the full Board in December.

Following are the five themes (previously developed), with a long list of unedited, brainstormed goals under those themes. 

  • Academic Success (assigned to Student Learning Committee)
    • Graduate college and career ready (90 percent or above)
    • Evaluate graduation requirements in light of careers
    • Testing – sunset unnecessary programming
    • Consistent PE time across all schools and increase amount
    • Create a real fine arts program as a focus program
    • Performing arts center
    • Jump start to career at TCA
    • Take full advantage of TCA
    • Industrial technology classes for all kids
    • Strengthen eLearning for students, displaced from the classroom
    • Add choice, focus programs, performing arts
    • Three to four magnet schools including community partnerships
    • Review current focus programs
    • Increase explore opportunity for middle school
    • eLearning middle/high school outside of classroom
    • School choice – follow your passion
    • Assess graduation requirements
    • All elementary students should have hands-on experiences
  • Future Ready Global Citizens (assigned to Americanism – Multicultural –  Transportation Committee)
    • World language exposure in elementary and middle school with goal of fluency
    • Elementary dual language program 
    • Perform appropriate research and develop plan for facilities and curriculum to serve our high school students in face of overwhelming growth and changing technology
    • Increase/strengthen computer science in curriculum
    • Develop systemic transformation into 21st century learning community
    • Replace economics with personal finance classes
    • Real world personal finances
    • Increase science programs 
  • Support for Students (assigned to Student Support Committee)
    • Equity audit to provide tool to help make decisions
    • Explore all day early childhood schools including community partnerships
    • Prioritize classroom sizes/student teacher ratios
    • Flexibility – hours, classrooms, eLearning
    • Create plan to address mental health needs of our children
    • Invest more in social works and counselors  
  • Support for Educators (assigned to Personnel/Policy Committee)
    • Staff reflective of community diversity
    • Leadership development and continuity planning
    • Re-establish mentor program for new educators
    • Conduct audit on time and resources used for assessments and standardized tests
    • ERP implementation – Enterprise Resource Planning
    • Prioritize classrooms sizes – student teacher ratios
  • Family and Community Partnerships (assigned to Extended Learning Opportunities Committee)
    • Full service community schools
    • Support and strengthen family engagement
    • High quality after school programs in all schools
    • City wide internship program
    • Whole family services – embedded in school 

The Board added one possible new group of goals in a category called Facilities and Infrastructure – Growth Ready (assigned to Planning Committee)

    • Develop facility plan that reflects changing demographics and needs of our community
    • Add facilities to support growing enrollment
    • Perform appropriate research and develop plan for facilities and curriculum to serve our HS students in face of overwhelming growth and changing technology
    • Innovative campus ideas
    • Fully utilized current facilities through boundaries, restructure, policies
    • Deal with growth yet keep the small town feel

Posted on August 31, 2017


COMMUNITY AWARENESS SERIES: Promoting Healthy Behaviors

Lincoln Public Schools is partnering with School Community Intervention and Prevention (SCIP), Bryan Independence Center and the Lancaster Prevention Coalition to put on a series of valuable presentations about how to support the health and well-being of our community’s youth. These events are open to parents, students, school professionals and community members.The first in the series will be Promoting Student Mental Health on September 26, at 6:30 p.m. at Lux Middle School.

Speaker Carrie Gottschalk has spent over 20 years in the fields of education and mental and behavioral health working with children, adolescents and families.  Her presentation will help raise awareness and offer opportunities for meaningful discussion surrounding the mental health of children and adolescence. Gottschalk will be sharing information about social emotional development and its role in mental and behavioral health, de-stigmatizing diagnosis and healthy steps that can be taken to support youth.

Future presentations will include:

  • Digital Citizenship - November 16, 6:30 p.m. at Southeast High School

  • Healthy Relationships - February 27, 6:30 p.m. at Southwest High School
  • Promoting Healthy Choices - April 26, 6:30 p.m. at North Star High School

Posted on August 29, 2017


Highlights of 8/22 Lincoln Board of Education meeting

The Lincoln Board of Education held a regular meeting on Tuesday, August 22 at Lincoln Public Schools District Office, 5905 O St. The Board will hold its next meeting 6 p.m. Sept. 12.

Highlights of 8/22 Lincoln Board of Education regular meeting

Budget approval

The Lincoln Board of Education Tuesday approved a student-centered budget for 2017-18 that focuses on significant student growth in the Lincoln community as well as increasing complex student needs.

The budget provides appropriate staffing, services, supplies and resources to address an estimated increase of 950 more students for 2017-18 – bringing estimated total enrollment to almost 42,000 students. LPS served almost 41,000 students last school year, an increase of 12 percent or 4,450 students over the last five years.  

The vote was six in favor of approving the budget, and Board member Matt Schulte voting no.

LPS Superintendent Steve Joel commended the Board of Education for approving this year’s budget: “I thank the Board for your commitment to students, families, staff and community…understanding that this is a place where we are very proud to say, all does mean all…You have done the very best work you can…We have made the right decision today, and I want to thank you on behalf of 41,000 students and a lot of grateful parents.” 

He affirmed there has been much conversation, discourse and even confusion about this year’s budget.  “Taxation is a very emotional issue, it brings a lot of opinions…In fact, there is a lot of debate about how public education should be funded.”

But currently, he stressed, the school district must use the resources at hand, which is generally state aid and property taxes. “At the end of the day, we can only control what we can control, and that is to utilize the tools we are given by the Legislature, by our state…so accessing the available levy was absolutely the right decision.”

The funding for public education is very difficult to explain, Joel said, especially when many people “want a snapshot for something that is very complicated.” He pointed out that state aid this year did not come close to keeping up with student growth, and that “if we were going to live up to the expectations our community has for our school district…the only place we could go was to use available property tax resources. 

Board Vice President Don Mayhew agreed and said he fully supported the budget, “because the reality of what we are doing, the eye on the prize, is to educate kids.”

He said he looks at three main things when considering a budget:

  • Making sure the school district is meeting the community’s expectations.
  • Considering the impact on taxpayers.  (“And I believe there is no local taxpaying body that has anywhere near our record in reducing the property tax rate.”)
  • Making sure tax dollars collected are spent efficiently. 

“This budget meets all of those considerations,” Mayhew said.  “We have a great process, we do a lot of work to get community feedback, we make sure what we do to meet community goals, and we get a lot of bang for our buck…We are taking care of the needs of our children.”

Board President Lanny Boswell pointed out the many opportunities for public input into the budget: Two budget work sessions, two budget forums, a budget hearing, numerous community presentations and a chance for online comments.  “Shortchanging an investment in student education today would cost us much more down the road.”

Schulte said he voted against the budget because he thought this budget was “an opportunity to give our taxpayers some relief.”

LPS works on a three-year forecast system to ensure sustainable revenue for supporting all students – evening out swings and taking into consideration the interdependence between state aid and property taxes.  LPS officials approved a slightly lower – essentially flat – tax rate for the coming school year. The budget totals $420.8 million – a 4.6 percent increase over the previous year (compared to a 6 percent increase last year). According to the most recent statistics, LPS ranked 228 out of 245 school districts in Nebraska in per pupil spending.

Valuation numbers

Lincoln Public Schools had estimated a valuation increase of 9 percent, and valuation numbers were certified recently at an increase of 8.82 percent.

That means the total budget request needed to be reduced by $356,555, and the net impact will be increasing use of cash flow in the budget. 

Update on plan for struggling students

The Board heard an update on the LPS collaborative action plan for providing increased support for struggling students – a plan coming out of a comprehensive review and recommendations from the District Management Group. 

Jane Stavem, associate superintendent for Instruction, stressed this is a district-wide initiative that will involve many family, parent and educator groups to offer input into the process.  “We are anticipating calling on many people for their feedback.”

The multi-step process includes goals for 2017-18:

  • Create Cluster Sites at the elementary and middle school levels for students with behavioral and cognitive challenges who may not benefit from out-of-school placement options (planning completed).
  • Develop structural models for guaranteeing extended learning and collaborative planning
  • Identify structured time within existing schedules to provide social-emotional and behavioral supports for students
  • Complete implementation of Positive Behavioral Intervention Support (PBiS) Framework to assure 100 percent of buildings are implementing practices with fidelity to meet the social-emotional needs of all learners.

Next three steps

  •  Refine the action plans for 2017-18 school year in partnership with District Office administrators and principals
  •  Begin developing models for extended learning time and collaborative planning.
  • Provide training, support and tools for schedules that support the developed models.

Attendance areas for new annexed property

The Board heard a proposal to provide attendance areas for newly annexed city property in the Iron Ridge area located south of Rokeby Road, east and west of South 27 street. 

Proposed attendance areas are: Adams Elementary School, Scott Middle School and Lincoln Southwest High School.  The Board will vote approval at the Sept. 12 meeting.

Student Celebration

More than 50,000 Lincoln Public Schools students, educators and volunteers stood in the shadow of the moon Monday for a once-in-a-lifetime total solar eclipse experience. 

For the Tuesday Board Student Celebration, speakers who talked about the eclipse experience were:

  • James Blake, curriculum specialist for Science.
  • Two LPS students who won the LPS eclipse glasses art contest:  Sutton Classen, a fourth grader from Maxey Elementary School; and Tristen Broome, a senior at Lincoln Northeast High School.

Posted on August 22, 2017


Students find that 'Science Rocks' in moon's shadow

The theme from “2001: A Space Odyssey” roared over the loud speakers as a field of 800 Pound Middle School kids shrieked with joy when the solar eclipse reached totality Monday – all of them gazing toward the skies for a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

In fact, they were joined by shouts, oohs and ahs, and moments of awe – “science rocks!” – from students across the community with more than 50,000 Lincoln Public Schools students, educators and volunteers standing in the shadow of the moon when a strange twilight descended over our schools.

Check out our students' Eclipse in Six!

“Look up at the sky,” Pound Principal Chris Deibler shouted over loud speakers, “this is a sight you won’t ever see again in Lincoln, Nebraska in your lifetime…Look at the sunrise all around the horizon…Feel the temperature…Really enjoy this moment.”

“We have been running a playlist of eclipse music today, we have practiced with the ‘magic whistle,’ and I think everyone is pretty excited about this experience,” Deibler said. 

After an uncertain forecast over the last few days, it was as if the clouds parted early Monday afternoon in honor of Lincoln’s solar totality allowing LPS staff and students – first graders through seniors – to peer upward with their special safety eclipse glasses and watch as the moon gradually blanketed out the sun’s rays until it was a perfect glimmering ring.

"To hear the kids cheering was music to my ears," said James Blake, the Science Curriculum Specialist at LPS - and the man who coordinated the entire district-wide effort.  "In a way this is almost exactly what I expected, we planned this so well, I've lived this over and over in my mind - even in my dreams."

A total solar eclipse happens when the moon falls exactly between the earth and the sun, essentially blocking out the sun for a period of time. This is the first time Lincoln has experienced a total eclipse in 500 years – and schools across the community experienced varying time periods of totality: Norwood Park Elementary School with the shortest totality at 31 seconds, and Lincoln Southwest High School with the most at 1 minute, 49 seconds.

Kindergartners – and students who opted out of going outdoors – were given a special indoor viewing experience.

Solar Eclipse
written by Ted Kooser (1979)

The moon wants to see
what it is that the sun sees.
She stands where the sun stands,
and the world goes dark.
Things look the same to her
as they always look.
Shrugging her shoulders,
she walks away.

Posted on August 21, 2017


First Learning Lunch of LPS Season: Ed Zimmer, Stories from the LPS Archives

The first Lincoln Public Schools Learning Lunch of the 2017-18 season will happen at 12:15 p.m. on Tuesday, August 29 and feature Ed Zimmer, Historic Preservation Planner for Lincoln, talking about “Stories from the LPS Archives.”

LPS Learning Lunches, open to the Lincoln community are generally held on the last Tuesday of the month in the Board Room at LPS District Office, 5905 O St.  Doors to the Board Room open at noon, the program begins at 12:15 p.m., questions-and-answers happen at 12:45 p.m. Please bring your own lunch – we’ll provide dessert.

The rest of the 2017-18 season:

  • Tuesday, Sept. 26: “Seeds of Hope,” video from Nebraska Loves Public Schools featuring LPS staff members, special guest Oscar Pohirieth, LPS Cultural Specialist and Coordinator for the Bilingual Liaison Program.
  • Tuesday, Oct. 24: School Meals: So much more than Chili and Cinnamon Rolls, Edith Zumwalt, director of Nutritional Services at LPS.  * Serving chili and cinnamon rolls!
  • Wednesday, Nov. 29: Social Emotional Learning: What is it and what does it look like at LPS, Carrie Erks, LPS School Social Worker.  
  • Tuesday, Dec. 19:  Restoring Calm: LPS Response to Crisis, Brenda Leggiadro, LPS supervisor for Counselors and Social Workers; and Ursula Vernon-Hansen, facilitator, LPS Crisis Response Team.
  • Tuesday, Jan. 23: Success with our Scholars, featuring LPS students and Pete Ferguson, coordinator, LPS Youth Development Team.
  • Tuesday, Feb. 27: Kids vs. adults in LPS Spelling Bee, LPS Spelling Bee champions compete with LPS employees, Mindy Murphy, curriculum specialist, Secondary English Language Arts.
  • Tuesday, March 27: Developing Young Men and Women, featuring Huntington Elementary School children and Rik Devney, Huntington principal.  
  • Tuesday, April 24: A Great Year of Achievement, highlighting LPS special education programs at Sherrill, Nuernberger and Yankee Hill Education Centers – Jane Stavem, associate superintendent of Instruction at LPS.
  • Tuesday, May 15: Making Music, UKE can do it!  Come try your musical talents with ukuleles, Lance Nielsen, curriculum specialist for Music at LPS. 

Posted on August 17, 2017


REQUIRED: Benefits Enrollment

All new and current Lincoln Public Schools employees must enroll online for benefits during the period August 14 through August 24, 2017. (This does not pertain to substitute employees or hourly employees such as mentors.)

Instructions: To access the online enrollment system:

  • Go to the Lincoln Public Schools website, www.lps.org;
  • Click on "Staff" and you will be on the Staff Center page; 
  • Under "Popular Pages" on the left side of the screen are the "Benefit Enrollment link" and "Instructions".

Your login is your Social Security Number (no dashes or spaces), and the PIN is the last four digits of your Social Security Number and last two of your birth year. (For example, for SSN 123-45-6789 and a birth year of 1974, you would type in 678974.)

Help Sessions Available

Location: District Office, 5905 ‘O’ St., Lower Level, Lab A
Time: 3:30 - 5:30 p.m.
When:

  • Wednesday, August 16
  • Thursday, August 17
  • Monday, August 21
  • Tuesday, August 22

You must go through the enrollment site even if you wish to elect no benefits, or wish to make no changes to your current benefits. The enrollment process can be completed on any computer at any time of day/night.

Posted on August 16, 2017


LPS featured in new documentary on immigrant and refugee students

Nebraska Loves Public Schools – a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting public education through film – will host two Lincoln screenings of its new immigrant and refugee documentary. The film features staff members from Lincoln Public Schools along with others from Nebraska. 

September 14, 7p.m.
Mary Riepma Ross Media Arts Center, Lincoln
Click here to RSVP to this event.

September 26, 12:15p.m.
LPS District Office, 5905 O Street, Lincoln
Part of the Learning Lunch series -- with special guest Oscar Pohirieth, LPS Cultural Specialist and Coordinator for the Bilingual Liaison Program. (No RSVP needed, free and open to the public.)

Seeds of Hope, offers a look inside the globalization of Nebraska’s classrooms. The new 35-minute film demonstrates how schools welcome and educate immigrant and refugee families as they start their lives over in America. Audiences will follow stories from Nebraska’s newcomer students: the inconceivable trauma and tribulations of their past, the perseverance to succeed in the present, and their hopes for a brighter future through quality education.

Immediately following the screening on September 14, there will be a Q&A with Director and Executive Producer Sally Nellson Barrett, featured cast members, and school leaders. A Take Action reception, where participants can learn ways to help immigrant and refugee students and families locally, will follow. All events are free and open to the public.

Posted on August 16, 2017


Diehl recognized with Joekel Award for leadership development in the classroom

Lincoln Public Schools Middle School English Coordinator Allysa Diehl received the Ron Joekel Leadership Award at Launch Leadership’s annual Fire and Fuzzies banquet Saturday night. The award recognizes an educator who is a champion of youth leadership development in the classroom and community.

Diehl was nominated by a former student, and was selected to receive the award based on her dedication to promoting youth leadership during her nine years as a language arts teacher at Schoo Middle School. During her time at Schoo, Diehl was the student council advisor and developed a leadership class for middle school students. She was recognized as the middle school advisor of the year by the Nebraska Association of Student Councils in 2012. Diehl has impacted the lives of countless students and gave them the opportunity to fnd their voice as a leader and work to make their schools and communities a better place.

“I am honored to be this year's recipient of the Ron Joekel Award,” Diehl said. “I am very passionate about youth leadership development, and I have thoroughly enjoyed my time teaching youth leadership skills in the classroom and in the extracurricular activities I have sponsored. I can tell you with certainty that our youth are interested in exploring leadership concepts and that they are craving leadership opportunities and the chance to get involved. I have been fortunate to have been able to bridge my students with all that Launch provides in order to give them even richer experiences. Thank you so much for this award; it is a tremendous warm fuzzy!”

Diehl is a Superior native and graduate of University of Nebraska-Lincoln and Doane University.

The award is named for the late Ron Joekel, a long-time educator who taught at the University of NebraskaLincoln for more than 40 years and was instrumental in the development and growth of Launch’s Summer Leadership Workshop. He served as the director of the Nebraska Association of Student Council for 20 years, the national president of Phi Delta Kappa and on the Board of Directors of the Nebraska Council of School Administrators.

About Launch
Launch Leadership originated as a volunteer organization back in 1976. It promotes and develops youth leadership through an annual fve-day summer workshop in Wayne, Neb., and dozens of year-round services across Nebraska. Launch is based in Lincoln with more than 200 members across the United States. For more information about Launch contact us at launch@launchleadership.org.

Posted on August 16, 2017


TEDxYouth to feature LPS students on August 19

Join students from Nebraska's high schools, middle schools, and colleges to explore "What Now?" Their speakers' ideas will challenge you, their performers will inspire you, and carefully prepared demonstrations and activities will delight you.

The event takes place on Saturday, August 19, from noon - 4:30 p.m., at Lincoln High School. Tickets are $10 for students, or $35 for adults.

TEDxYouth@Lincoln is a local, independently organized event where they strive to re-create the unique experience found at TED, where the world’s leading thinkers and doers congregate to share their passions.

For more information, or to purchase tickets go to: https://tedxlincoln.presencehost.net/events/youth.html

Posted on August 11, 2017


Back to School Carpool Karaoke

As we get ready for students on August 14, LPS Superintendent Dr. Steve Joel and the rest of the team have a special preview of our goals for the new school year as they Carpool Karaoke. Check it out:

Troubles viewing the video? Try this instead: 

Posted on August 11, 2017


NARSP Scholarship Recipients Named

Carrie Foster, Special Education Supervisor with the Lincoln Public Schools has been selected as one of two recipients of the 2017-2018 Nebraska Association of Retired School Personnel (NARSP) Active Educator Scholarships.  The scholarships in the amount of $1,000 each are awarded annually to an active educator working toward an advanced degree or endorsement in a related field of education. 

By offering the scholarships to active educators in the field, NARSP members have an opportunity to “maintain professional contacts and to develop new ones” with the district, schools, and educators in and around the communities of the local units.

Foster is pursuing an Educational Specialist from Doane University. The Lincoln Area Retired School Personnel (LARSP) submitted her application.

Foster received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Special Education from Doane University.  She also has received a Masters In Curriculum and Instruction and a Masters In Educational Leadership from Doane University.  She has served as a special education resource teacher at Cavett Elementary and as a resource teacher and coordinator at Scott Middle School in LPS.  Prior to her present assignment for the upcoming 2017-2018 school year, she was Assistant Principal at Kooser Elementary School.  Carrie has been an educator for twenty-two years. 

Foster is affiliated with several professional organizations.  She is involved with numerous committees at school and at the district levels.  She extends her involvement into the community with Girl Scouts, JDRF, Husker VIP Lifeskills Partnership, and as a Team Mate mentor.    

Posted on August 09, 2017


Lincoln Public Schools: Highlights of 8/8 Lincoln Board of Education meeting

Lincoln Public Schools:  Highlights of 8/8 Lincoln Board of Education meeting

The Lincoln Board of Education held a regular meeting on Tuesday, August 8 at Lincoln Public Schools District Office, 5905 O St. The Board will hold its next meeting 6 p.m. August 22.

Highlights of 8/8 Lincoln Board of Education regular meeting

Budget hearing

The Lincoln Board of Education Tuesday held a public hearing and heard first reading on the 2017-18 proposed Lincoln Public Schools budget – a budget that is student-centered and focuses on the incredible growth in our school district.  The proposed budget provides appropriate staffing, services, supplies and resources to address an estimated increase of 950 more students for 2017-18 – bringing total enrollment to almost 42,000 students. LPS served almost 41,000 students last school year, an increase of 12 percent or 4,450 students over the last five years.  This will mark the fifth straight year of annual growth greater than 850 students.

Kathy Danek, chair of the Board’s Finance Committee, said the proposed budget is the culmination of long, arduous work that includes months of discussion with the community and between Board members.

She said this budget:

  • Reflects dramatic growth LPS has experienced in recent years.
  • Supports essential programs that support the complexity of that growth.
  • Covers the salaries of our talented educators.

Board member Connie Duncan: “I’m amazed at our budget process…Our list of needs is long and we do a good job prioritizing…Board members go through a strict process with the Finance chair meeting with every Board member….and many, many, many meetings of the Finance Committee…I believe this is a well thought-out, thoroughly researched process with a budget that reflects the funding necessary for an investment in our children.”

Board member Barb Baier stressed that the Board has “taken taxpayer requests of lowering the tax levy very seriously…We are going and addressing the concerns of our taxpayers…We’re just going and making sure that’s not hitting the classroom and our students.”

Board member Annie Mumgaard described the budget process as “putting the puzzle pieces together…to continue what we have done well for many, many years…to provide a quality education for the future citizens of our city.”

Board member Matt Schulte said he appreciated the work the Finance Committee has done this year, but has concerns about the proposed budget – saying he thought it was “short-sighted” in not including additional funding for the Building Fund and not addressing some taxpayer feedback.

LPS works on a three-year forecast system to ensure sustainable revenue for supporting all students – evening out swings and taking into consideration the interdependence between state aid and property taxes.  LPS officials recommend a slightly lower – essentially flat – tax rate for the coming school year. The proposed budget totals $420.8 million – a 4.6 percent increase over the previous year (compared to a 6 percent increase last year). According to the most recent statistics, LPS ranked 228 out of 245 school districts in Nebraska in per pupil spending.

Budget work session materials: http://www.lps.org/about/budget/

Budget videos: https://home.lps.org/budget/?page_id=212

Finalized goals for coming year

The Lincoln Board of Education Tuesday approved the annual goals and priorities established for the Board and LPS Superintendent for the 2017-18 school year.

Goals and Priorities are:  

  • By 2019: Develop, implement and sustain district initiatives that result in an increased graduation rate, with a goal of 90 percent on-time graduates that are career and college ready.
  • By Dec. 15, 2017, adopt a Strategic Plan and provide regular progress reports to the Board of Education commencing in 2018.
  • Establish the Superintendent's High School Task Force to investigate community options and priorities for serving high school students and make recommendations by May 1, 2018.

LPS policy

The Board approved changes for:  Policy 5111 with a change to the requirements for part-time students wishing to participate in NSAA-governed activities to align with the change in NSAA by-laws.

Class rank

The Board heard a recommendation Tuesday for phasing out of the use of class rank in high school – and replacing it with a different recognition system of academic achievement.

Jane Stavem, associate superintendent of Instruction at LPS, said the recommendation originated for several reasons:

  • Higher education institutions are moving away from considering class rank as a major determination of admission or scholarships.
  • Class rank is often not comparable from district to district – state to state.
  • School districts throughout the state are moving away from class rank (and some have never used it).

Stavem noted that LPS is fully committed to providing recognition for academic excellence and achievement, while eliminating unnecessary and negative competition among students in a class rank formula.

No vote was required Tuesday, but Board members discussed the issue and voiced various reasons for support – and concern.   

LPS Superintendent Steve Joel said class rank was a national conversation with an aggressive movement away from class rank, as “class rank can be a negative stigma to kids working hard...We felt the timing for this change was right.”

Next steps:

  • Develop regulation language for recognition levels that replace current class rank language for the graduating class of 2021.
  • Share proposed recognition language with the Student Learning Committee and Policy Committee.
  • Begin sharing information with schools and families.

Solar Eclipse

Thirteen days left to go for the total eclipse in Lincoln, Nebraska!

James Blake, curriculum specialist for Science at LPS, gave the Board an update on plans for LPS students for the total solar eclipse visible from Lincoln on Monday, August 21

Assuming weather is clear and calm on eclipse day, all LPS staff and students in grades 1-12 – who have not opted for staying indoors – will participate directly. Our youngest children will have a virtual experience, but will still get the same cool eclipse glasses as everyone else. 

LPS is focusing on keeping students and staff safe that day – all will be recipients of special, medically-approved solar eclipse glasses to protect their eyes. The Science Curriculum Department has been working with LPS and community experts to build awareness and safety. 

BACKGROUND:  A total solar eclipse happens when the moon completely blocks the sun – for almost two minutes in Lincoln mid-day on August 21. The moon falls between the Earth and the sun once every month, however, usually the shadow appears above or below the earth. When an eclipse shadow does occur on earth, it typically falls on the ocean. A total eclipse has not been viewed in Lincoln for 500 years (before there was a Lincoln, or even a Nebraska) – and it will be 500 years until it returns.

Posted on August 08, 2017


LPS offers Learning Lunch lineup for 2017-18: Untold stories of our Schools

The 2017-18 lineup for the annual Lincoln Public Schools Learning Lunches series offers more “Untold Stories of our Schools” with Learning Lunches open to LPS staff and the Lincoln community – beginning with a program on Tuesday, August 29.  

For all lunches: Lunches are generally held on the last Tuesday of the month in the Board Room at LPS District Office, 5905 O St.  Doors to the Board Room open at noon, the program begins at 12:15 p.m., questions-and-answers happen at 12:45 p.m. Please bring your own lunch – we’ll provide dessert.

The 2017-18 season:

  • Tuesday, August 29Stories from the LPS Archives, Ed Zimmer, Historic Preservation Planner, Lincoln Planning Department.
  • Tuesday, Sept. 26: “Seeds of Hope,” video from Nebraska Loves Public Schools featuring LPS staff members, special guest Oscar Pohirieth, LPS Cultural Specialist and Coordinator for the Bilingual Liaison Program.
  • Tuesday, Oct. 24: School Meals: So much more than Chili and Cinnamon Rolls, Edith Zumwalt, director of Nutritional Services at LPS.  * Serving chili and cinnamon rolls!
  • Wednesday, Nov. 29: Social Emotional Learning: What is it and what does it look like at LPS, Carrie Erks, LPS School Social Worker.  
  • Tuesday, Dec. 19:  Restoring Calm: LPS Response to Crisis, Brenda Leggiadro, LPS supervisor for Counselors and Social Workers; and Ursula Vernon-Hansen, facilitator, LPS Crisis Response Team.
  • Tuesday, Jan. 23: Success with our Scholars, featuring LPS students and Pete Ferguson, coordinator, LPS Youth Development Team.
  • Tuesday, Feb. 27: Kids vs. adults in LPS Spelling Bee, LPS Spelling Bee champions compete with LPS employees, Mindy Murphy, curriculum specialist, Secondary English Language Arts.
  • Tuesday, March 27Developing Young Men and Women, featuring Huntington Elementary School children and Rik Devney, Huntington principal.  
  • Tuesday, April 24Great Year of Achievement, highlighting LPS special education programs at Sherrill, Nuernberger and Yankee Hill Education Centers – Jane Stavem, associate superintendent of Instruction at LPS.
  • Tuesday, May 15Making Music, UKE can do it!  Come try your musical talents with ukuleles, Lance Nielsen, curriculum specialist for Music at LPS.

Posted on August 03, 2017


Piano Lessons for Adults!

Have you always wanted to play the piano? Or have you forgotten how to play piano since you were a child? Join Lincoln's Community Piano Experience, a group piano class offered with the help of UNL’s School of Music Piano Pedagogy faculty and interns! Offering classes at beginning and intermediate levels! Date, time, location, and cost information can be found on our website https://sites.google.com/site/lincolncommunitypiano/. For additional information email lincoln.cpe@gmail.com or call Travis Worsham at 936-591-2116. Registration deadline: August 31, 2017. 

Posted on August 03, 2017


New year, new teachers start at LPS

Nervous smiles and excited voices as anxious feet bound off the yellow school bus... it’s the first day of school, not for students but new teachers at Lincoln Public Schools.

Approximately 400 new teachers along with their principals filled the conference room at the Cornhusker Marriott for orientation as they were greeted by Board of Education President Lanny Boswell.

“Great things are happening in Lincoln Public Schools. More great things are on the way. You are joining a growing, innovative, student-focused, community supported school district, and I am so glad you are here,” said Boswell.

Superintendent Steve Joel informed teachers they were part of a unique district that focuses on the important things like student success and positive student outcomes. They are also now part of a district that has a partnership with the city of Lincoln.

“That partnership is the importance of public education to a community that’s very diverse, progressive and dynamic and growing at an unbelievable rate. That dynamic is very exciting for a school district.”

The day long training included such topics as continuous improvement, classroom management, and student safety. The new teachers will continue professional development in their content areas throughout the week.

Posted on July 31, 2017


Lincoln Public Schools:Highlights of 7/25 Lincoln Board of Education meeting

Lincoln Public Schools: Highlights of 7/25 Lincoln Board of Education meeting

The Lincoln Board of Education held a regular meeting on Tuesday, July 25 at Lincoln Public Schools District Office, 5905 O St. The Board will hold its next meeting 6 p.m. August 8.

Highlights of 7/25 Lincoln Board of Education regular meeting

Goals for coming year

The Lincoln Board of Education Tuesday considered the annual goals and priorities established for the Board and LPS Superintendent for the coming school year. 

The 2017-18 Board of Education and Superintendent’s Annual Goals and Priorities presented for consideration were:

  • By 2019: Develop, implement and sustain district initiatives that result in an increased graduation rate, with a goal of 90 percent on-time graduates that are career and college ready.
  • By Dec. 15, 2017, adopt a Strategic Plan and provide regular progress reports to the Board of Education commencing in 2018.
  • Establish the Superintendent's High School Task Force to investigate community options and priorities for serving high school students and make recommendations by May 1, 2018.

“These are good goals,” said LPS Superintendent Steve Joel. “It’s where the work needs to be – today and into the future.”

The Board will vote final approval of the goals August 8.

LPS policy

The Board heard proposed changes for:  Policy 5111 with a proposed change to the requirements for part-time students wishing to participate in NSAA-governed activities to align with the change in NSAA by-laws.  The Board will vote final approval August 8.

The Board approved:

  • Brand new policy in Board Operating Procedures creating a Code of Conduct.
  • A revision of Policy 8130 in Board Operating Procedures clarifying current some committee assignments.

Legislative guidelines

The Board approved annual Legislative guidelines that will provide guidance to school district staff and representatives – on proposed legislation or policy – communicating with governmental bodies when it is not possible to survey the Governmental Relations Subcommittee. 

Wellness

The Board heard an update about wellness and physical activity for LPS students with speakers including:

  • Michelle Welch, district wellness facilitator
  • Matt Avey, curriculum specialist for physical education and health
  • Wendy Rau, supervisor for Health Services 

Dr. Bob Rauner, a Lincoln physician who started Partnership for a Healthy Lincoln, talked about the significant value of health, wellness and physical education for LPS students.

A few highlights:

  • Yearly aerobic fitness results for students continue to improve.
  • Continued movement toward the goal: 80 percent kids fit by 2020.
  • Continued numbers that indicate the relationship between fitness and academic success.
  • Despite continued disparities, fitness improvements in diverse groups.
  • Clear relationships between healthy students and citizens – and a positive financial impact on the community.

Student Celebration

The Lincoln Board of Education recognized several students who spoke to the value of summer reading hours for the LPS school library media centers.

Those speaking were:

  • Chris Haeffner, director of Library Media Services.
  • Lindsey Parrott, who will begin second grade at Sheridan Elementary School this coming school year.
  • Keeli Gill, a student at Irving Middle School who volunteered at the Sheridan library this summer.
  • Reid Styskel and Lillias McKillip – both fifth graders from Beattie Elementary School this past year – and sixth graders at Irving this coming year. 

Public comment

Several people testified about traffic near Kahoa Elementary School.

Posted on July 25, 2017


Educators key to 'community care' of children

Human trafficking is the fastest growing crime, not only around the world but in Nebraska as well - and educators can be key in recognizing and reporting signs and symptoms.  That’s why trafficking experts were invited to speak as the keynote Tuesday at the annual Lincoln Public Schools Leadership Conference, a beginning-of-school gathering for all the school district’s administrators held at Lincoln Northeast High School.

If you think this issue has not yet hit Lincoln, consider these numbers:  Out of the average 900 trafficking of minors ads per month on Nebraska’s five backpage.com websites, an average 200 per month are based in Lincoln.

Glen Parks, Assistant Attorney General with the Nebraska Attorney General’s Office, and Erin Aliano, Special Projects Coordinator at the Nebraska Alliance of Child Advocacy Centers, stressed that human trafficking victims are in our community and in our schools - and educators can help.

“You are a special resource. Sometimes you have a lot more pieces to the puzzle than our law enforcement or prosecutors. Kids feel safe with you so they tend to disclose to you because you have that rapport  and that relationship with them. School is their safe haven. This is where they feel safe,” Aliano said.

Remember:  One in six children reported missing in 2016 were likely victims of sex trafficking,  vulnerable because they have emergent needs like transportation, shelter, food and money. Other risk factors include children who are longing to belong to a group or don’t “fit in,” live in poverty or are homeless, survivors of child abuse, LGBTQ youth who may have been kicked out of their home or shunned by families, immigrants, or a child who lives in a home with substance abuse.

Traffickers can be someone the victim just met or a trusted adult in their life. Just as many women as men are identified as traffickers.

Possible indicators of human trafficking victims include:

  • Sudden changes in behavior, appearance, friends, interests, demeanor, and sexual behavior. Disoriented or confused or showing signs of mental or physical abuse like unexplained injuries.
  • Students who act fearful, timid or submissive.
  • They may have a close relationship with a significantly older unrelated adult, or have claims of an older boyfriend or girlfriend,
  • They have unexplained school absences, truancy, or missing from care and other delinquent behavior.

LPS Security Director Joe Wright advised LPS employees who suspect or have questions about possible human trafficking victims - to contact either him or LPS Student Services.

“There’s a pretty big spectrum of what you might run into,” Wright said. “The response will be different for each case. With our continued partnerships with our advocates, our new partnership with the Attorney General’s office, the medical people, the county attorney’s office we are really well poised now that you are more sensitized to this topic to help children.”

Lincoln Public Schools health staff, counselors, social workers and school psychologists will also receive training this year in human trafficking recognition and response.

Parks closed:  “We just recruited you into this army as we try to address this across our state. There is not one tell tale sign that you will see. We want you to use your intuition.”

Posted on July 25, 2017


REQUIRED ANNUAL TRAINING FOR SUICIDE AWARENESS/PREVENTION

Online training is now available for all Lincoln Public Schools employee groups required to take the annual suicide awareness/prevention training as required by school personnel law approved by the Nebraska State Legislature in 2014.

Those required to take the online training include: nurses, teachers, counselors, school psychologists, administrators, social workers, health technicians, treatment nurses, occupational therapists, physical therapists, sign language interpreters, service coordinators, SLPs, Bilingual Liaisons, Youth Development Team members, Campus Security, Early Childhood Student Parent Advocates, and para educators including SEMs. 

*All groups are expected to have the training completed by October 18, 2017.

Any employee (including substitutes) who is not required to take the training can still take it if they choose to do so.

A software program by Kognito has been chosen by the Nebraska Department of Education as a training tool that will cover this requirement for all school districts in Nebraska.  Employees will take this training individually online.

**The Kognito software is not part of LPS system, so our LPS credentials will not work.  Those of you who took the training last year established your own credentials for the Kognito training. You will need to reset your password if you do not remember it. All new LPS employees and/or those who did not take the training last year, will need to establish new credentials.

PLEASE NOTE: If you took this training last year, please know you DO need to take it again this year.  

Follow these steps to recertify:

1)     Log in to your Kognito account and click on the tile at the top of the screen for the simulation you wish to re-certify.

2)     Click on the “Need to recertify?” link to the left of the RE-LAUNCH button. (DO NOT click the RE-LAUNCH button as that will not create the certificate required for recertification.)

3)     A prompt will appear asking you to reset the simulation to the beginning. Click RESET COURSE to reset the simulation. This may take a moment to process.
(**IMPORTANT** You must reset the simulation in order to receive an updated certificate. However, you only need to reset the simulation once! Resetting again before you complete the simulation will erase your progress.)

4)     Once the system updates, you will see the RE-LAUNCH button change to LAUNCH and your course status will show “Previous Completion.” Note that the “Need to Recertify?” link will disappear. Click on the LAUNCH to start and complete the simulation to receive your updated Certificate of Completion.

To view an instructional video on this feature, please go to:  http://resources.kognito.com/videos/Recertify_with_Kognito.mp4

If you have not yet taken the training, and/or are new to Lincoln Public Schools, please go to the following link for instructions on how to sign in, establish a new ID and password: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1_2gb9qfrLSeVTfyiitznTIKpjM0qL1CTVQbd3lGcXko/edit.

For everyone:

If you have issues with Kognito login or software:

  • FIRST, find a possible solution in this Troubleshooting Guide.
  • SECOND, email support@kognito.com for technical support. This is NOT an LPS software solution, so we are not able to assist with any technical issues.
  • If you have any questions that are not related to the software or logging in, please contact me at ruhing@lps.org or by calling (402) 436-1650.

Other necessary information:

  • When you finish the training, you will be able to download a certificate - this is for your benefit.  Your principals and supervisors will receive a monthly report on who has completed the training.
  • Staff assigned to multiple buildings should choose the level and school where they have the greatest number of students. District itinerant staff will be assigned to LPSDO and not a school.  If you have questions, please check with your direct supervisor.  Classified staff are to participate in the training during normal work hours when classes are not in session. 

Thank you for your continued work and dedication in making Lincoln Public Schools a safe and welcoming place for the students of our community.    

Posted on July 20, 2017


Upcoming Online Benefits Enrollment

All new and current Lincoln Public Schools employees must enroll online for benefits during the period August 14 through August 24, 2017. (This does not pertain to substitute employees or hourly employees such as mentors.)

Annual Enrollment Dates/Instructions:
August 14-24: The enrollment will begin Monday, August 14 and will end at midnight on Thursday, August 24. You will not have access to the enrollment site before August 14.

Instructions: To access the online enrollment system:

  • Go to the Lincoln Public Schools website, www.lps.org;
  • Click on "Staff" and you will be on the Staff Center page; 
  • Under "Popular Pages" on the left side of the screen are the "Benefit Enrollment link" and "Instructions".

Your login is your Social Security Number (no dashes or spaces), and the PIN is the last four digits of your Social Security Number and last two of your birth year. (For example, for SSN 123-45-6789 and a birth year of 1974, you would type in 678974.)


Help Sessions Available
Location: District Office, 5905 ‘O’ St., Lower Level, Lab A
Time: 3:30 - 5:30 p.m.
When:

  • Wednesday, August 16
  • Thursday, August 17
  • Monday, August 21
  • Tuesday, August 22

You must go through the enrollment site even if you wish to elect no benefits, or wish to make no changes to your current benefits. The enrollment process can be completed on any computer at any time of day/night.

Effective Dates:

  • Any benefits added during this period will begin September 1. (New employees may have a different effective date -- more information in your Benefit Orientation session.) Premiums are deducted from your September 30 paycheck for September coverage.
  • If you do not go through the online enrollment system, your benefits will end August 31, 2017. Don't miss the deadline! No exceptions!
  • If you drop any benefits for you or spouse/dependents, they will end August 31, 2017. Once you confirm your entire enrollment, you will be able to print out your confirmation.
  • Even if you do not currently have any of our benefit plans (or you are a new employee and don't want to enroll in our coverage) you must still go through the enrollment and decline the coverage.
  • The annual enrollment is a good time to review your beneficiaries and update as needed!

What's New:

  • There is an open enrollment for Blue Cross and Blue Shield (BCBS) health and dental insurance. Employees may also enroll within 30 days of a qualifying event under HIPAA which includes marriage, divorce, birth/adoption, or losing coverage through a spouse changing jobs, retiring, etc. Due to Health Care Reform, there are no longer pre-existing conditions.
  • You will need the Social Security Number(s) and date(s) of birth for spouse and dependent(s). Please enter this information carefully or it could delay claims being paid.
  • Details on the various benefit plans can be found on the LPS home page. Type in "Benefits" in Keyword Search (upper right-hand corner of the screen). Or go to "Departments" and click on "Human Resources" and "Benefits".
  • The district pays a contribution for health insurance based on your employee group. Health insurance premiums deducted from employees' paychecks for 2017-18 will stay the same. You will pay between $51 and $62 for a single plan (depending on your employee group); $352.92 for employee/spouse; $311.69 for employee/child(ren) or $481.75 for family. Dental, vision, life, etc. premiums are fully paid by the employee. These rates will be shown in the enrollment, and they are also on the Benefits website (type in "Benefits" in Keyword Search). 
  • The $900 PPO individual deductible remains the same on September 1 ($1800 for the other tiers). Deductibles are CALENDAR year (January 1 through December 31).
  • Administrators and Maintenance employees have the dual option -- the $900 PPO plan or the $3500 High Deductible Plan (HDHP).
  • There are changes to the Option 2 and Option 4 Dental insurance. Please refer to your letter that you received from BCBS for more information.
  • Mynebraskablue has lots of information! The site has lots of information including provider lists, claim information, deductibles, out-of-pocket maximums, drug formularies, etc. And don't forget about Telehealth services!
  • If you receive information from Blue Cross and Blue Shield asking you to verify your spouse/dependents eligibility, PLEASE DON'T IGNORE or coverage may be dropped!
  • We have a new disability/life insurance carrier, Madison National Life (National Insurance Services). More information is available when you go through the enrollment. When you go through the enrollment you will notice that the rates are lower!!
  • Vision (VSP), Cancer and Accident Insurance premiums will stay the same for 2017-18. VSP does not issue ID cards.

Be careful when you go through the online enrollment! 

  • Please pay attention to the coverage you select. If you are declining the coverage, you will need to select the appropriate button. 
  • You will want to print your Confirmation when you complete the enrollment. 
  • If you are adding disability or life insurance (and aren't a new employee) you will need to fill out a health questionnaire which will be shown at the end of your enrollment. It is your responsibility to complete the form and send to Madison National by September 30. The coverage will start if/when the application is approved by Madison National.

Flexible Spending Account (FSA) Information

  • For employees who are currently participating in the flexible benefit plan for medical reimbursement and/or dependent care, the plan year ends August 31, 2017. Employees have 90 days after August 31 to turn in receipts. More information, including claim forms, can be found on the LPS website -- click on "Departments", then "Human Resources" and "Benefits", under the PayFlex Information section or go to the PayFlex website, www.payflex.com.
  • For Maintenance employees and/or Administrators considering the High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP) and an HSA starting January 1: You are not able to be enrolled in an HSA if enrolled in our FSA. Contact the Benefits Office for more information. And you should consult with your personal tax adviser to determine whether you are eligible to contribute to an HSA and the limit of the contributions.

Have a great year! Your Benefits Team:


Kyla R. Jensby, CEBS
Employee Benefits Specialist
kjensby@lps.org
Phone: 402-436-1593

Laurie Oxley, PHR, SHRM-CP, CEBS
Employee Benefits Specialist
loxley@lps.org
Phone: 402-436-1595

Nancy Harter, CEOE
Employee Benefits Secretary
nharter@lps.org
Phone: 402-436-1578

Posted on July 20, 2017


Bonus summer LPS Learning Lunch: Solar eclipse

Lincoln Public Schools has scheduled a bonus Learning Lunch this summer – 12:15 p.m. Monday, July 24 – with information about the total solar eclipse that will be visible from Lincoln in August.

The presentation will feature James Blake, science curriculum specialist at Lincoln Public Schools, speaking about the total solar eclipse that will happen on August 21.  LPS is making sure all students grades 1-12 will be outside to watch.

Learning Lunches are set in the Board Room at LPS District Office, 5905 O St.  Doors to the Board Room open at noon, the program begins at 12:15 p.m., questions-and-answers happen at 12:45 p.m. Learning Lunches are open to LPS staff and the Lincoln community. You bring lunch - we'll bring dessert.

Posted on July 20, 2017


Come learn about our public schools: LPS launches third year of Citizens Academy


Lincoln Public Schools is inviting Lincoln citizens to apply to participate in the third year of an initiative called the LPS Citizens Education Academy: a series of monthly classes that include hands-on interactive experiences depicting a true, behind-the-scenes sense of public schools in Lincoln. Participants are asked to attend monthly meetings – generally the second Monday evening of each month, but also several day meetings – hosted at schools across the school district, featuring a wide variety of information and activities. Participants will have conversations with high school seniors, visit a Family Literacy class, sample an ACT test, spend time in LPS classrooms, tour the Career Academy, see the new Moore Middle School, and much more.

LPS is now accepting applicants for this no-charge public outreach program on a first-come, first-served basis. If you would like to participate, please register byAugust 18 and send the following information to Julie Dansky, jdansky@lps.org

  • Your name, street address, email address and phone number.
  • Tell us a little about who you are – and why you are interested in the Academy (couple sentences).
 
Academy Schedule:
  • Sept. 11, 5-7:30 p.m. Huntington Elementary School, 2900 N. 46th St.  FOCUS: Hopes and dreams, start of school, overview, introductions, conversations 
  • Oct. 9, 5-7:30 p.m. Lincoln Southeast High School, 2930 S. 37th St.  FOCUS: Focus on graduation rate, instruction and curriculum
  • Nov. 13, Choose two morning hours at an elementary, middle or high school: McPhee Elementary School, Lefler Middle School or Lincoln High School.  
  • Dec. 11, 5-7:30 p.m. Schoo Middle School, 700 Penrose Dr. FOCUS: Educating all our children/special issues and challenges
  • Jan. 8, 9-11 a.m. West Lincoln Elementary School, 630 W. Dawes Ave. FOCUS:  Growing, global changing scope of LPS
  • Feb. 12, 5-7:30 p.m. Moore Middle School, 8700 Yankee Woods Drive  FOCUS: Creating foundation of student success with budgets, facilities, security 
  • March 12, 5-7:30 p.m. The Career Academy, 8800 O St. FOCUS: Classrooms of the 21st century
  • April 9, 5-7:30 p.m. Lincoln North Star High School, 5801 N. 33rd St. FOCUS: Mandates and accountability
  • May 7, 5-7:30 p.m. Lincoln Public Schools District Office, 5905 O St. FOCUS: Citizen Academy Graduation and beyond
For more information: Mary Kay Roth, LPS Communications, 402-436-1609, mkroth@lps.org

 

Posted on July 14, 2017


Lincoln’s Symphony Orchestra Announces 2017-18 Young Artist Competition

Lincoln’s Symphony Orchestra invites young musicians to enter LSO’s 2017-18 Young Artist Competition and win an opportunity to perform as a soloist with a professional orchestra. The competition will be held at 4 p.m., Monday, September 25. Applications must be submitted by Friday, September 8, 2017.

To be eligible, musicians must be 20 years old or younger on the day of the audition, must play an instrument, participate in an audition, and submit an application with a letter of recommendation.

Applications are available online at http://lincolnsymphony.org/about/auditions/, by contacting the LSO office at 402-476-2211, or emailing Renee Pflughaupt at renee@lincolnsymphony.com. Please submit all applications to Lincoln’s Symphony Orchestra, Attn: Young Artist Competition, 233 S. 13th  St. Ste., 1702, Lincoln, NE 68508.

Posted on July 13, 2017


2016-17 Foundation for Lincoln Public Schools Educator Awards

Below are the recipients of the Educator Awards presented by the Foundation for Lincoln Public Schools for the 2016-17 school year:

Florence J. Clark Middle School Award: 
Two awards that recognize outstanding middle school teachers
Katie Karabel - Schoo Middle School
Lance Kassebaum - Park Middle School

Helen Krieger Outstanding Healthcare Provider Award: 
Recognizes outstanding healthcare provider who has contributed to students and families
Myrna Mooberry Stanard - Northeast High School

John Prasch Health and Physical Fitness:
Recognizes an outstanding educator who promotes health and physical fitness
Darrell Dinneen - Sheridan Elementary School

Leola Bullock Multicultural Award:
Recognizes an LPS employee who fosters understanding of our multi-cultural society
Christopher Maly - Lincoln High School

Marian Battey Andersen/Charles Wheaton Battey Anderson Outstanding Teacher:
In recognition of leadership at Sheridan Elementary, Irving Middle School, or Lincoln High School
Molly Moller - Sheridan Elementary School

Marie Bourke Leadership Award:
Recognizes impact great principals have on the lives of students and teachers
Dr. Chris Deibler - Pound Middle School

Mike Troester Educator Award:
Recognizes an outstanding Southeast High School educator
Jeff Smith - Southeast High School

Myrtle Clark Educator Award:
Recognizes excellence in mathematics teaching
Cassandra Seiboldt - Northeast High School

Nancy Muehlhausen Counseling Award:
Awarded to educator accepted into a Master's level counseling program or current counselor in need of funds for professional development
Nicole Barnes - Lincoln High School

R.L. Fredstrom Award:
Awarded to teacher or coordiantor who has shown outstanding leadership qualities
Carrie Erks - Randolph Elementary and LPSDO

Ruth Eickman Award:
Awarded to an oustanding early childhood educator
Kaycee Perez - Holmes Elementary
Jill Martin - Prescott Elementary

Union Bank & Trust Award:
Awarded to elementary, middle, and high school educators who find creative ways to incorporate financial literacy in classroom setting
Lindsay Tillinghast - Southeast High School

Victor Vaughan Memorial Award:
Supports a teacher project dedicated to special education students
Craig Songster - Northeast High School

Posted on July 12, 2017


Lincoln Public Schools: Highlights of 7/11 Lincoln Board of Education budget work session

Lincoln Public Schools: 

Highlights of 7/11 Lincoln Board of Education budget work session

The Lincoln Board of Education held a second Budget Work Session on Tuesday, July 11, at Lincoln Public Schools District Office.  The Board’s next regular meeting is scheduled 6 p.m. on July 25.

 

Highlights of 7/11 Lincoln Board of Education Work Session

The Lincoln Board of Education Tuesday continued discussion of the 2017-18 proposed Lincoln Public Schools budget – a budget that focuses on the incredible growth in the school district in student numbers and in student needs.

 

The Work Session followed citizen feedback at two Community Forums held in June – and an earlier work session also in June.

 

The proposed budget addresses the significant growth in LPS student enrollment – but also the significant growth in student needs, said Liz Standish, associate superintendent of Business Affairs for LPS. “This budget prioritizes serving students – to meet the needs they come to us with.”

 

Comments and questions from the Board of Education:

Matt Schulte said he believes LPS should lower the levy in this budget. He warned there are other community bond issues that will be happening in coming years, “and this is an opportunity to shore up support for a future bond issue…We will need public support.”

 

Don Mayhew disagreed with the premise that we “reward” our community by lowering the levy.  “I think the suggestion that by lowering the levy, we are offering the community a reward…to buy some favor before the next bond issue…is not true.  The way we say thank you to our community is by using the tax dollars we have been given – using them well – by doing our job as Board members to provide a high quality education for kids…I think it’s important to keep the conversation framed correctly.”

 

Lanny Boswell questioned the concept of suggesting the levy be cut – without specifying how. “It’s really easy to get up and say we should lower the levy – without saying how you will do that, how it will impact programs and students. Just to say, ‘Let’s lower the levy, but I’m not going to tell you how’ – will be hard to get support from other Board members.” Boswell underlined the “diligence LPS uses in going through the budget process…Because we have done such an excellent job with our forecasting model…and been very prudent in the way we handle those dollars…we have one of the highest bond ratings of any school district in the nation.”

 

Kathy Danek pointed out this budget is the result of hours and hours of discussion in Board committee meetings over the past year, “becoming informed on how the school district is serving the students we have, how we look at this budget – as a needs-based budget.”

 

Barb Baier stressed that LPS has decreased the levy by 7 cents over 12 years “and that includes the time when we saw property values go down…In educating children, investing in our children’s future, our Board has also been responsive to a need for a decrease in the levy.”

 

Annie Mumgaard said what she “hears” in the community – are people who demand a school district that provides “an excellent, world-class education…What I have heard, loud and clear, is that our community wants us to invest in children”  

 

Connie Duncan pointed out that the Board has followed up and fully discussed all suggestions – including a possible decrease in the tax levy.

 

Budget highlights:   

  • The proposed budget provides appropriate staffing, services, supplies and resources to address significant growth in LPS student enrollment. LPS estimates an increase of 950 more students for 2017-18 –bringing total enrollment to almost 42,000 students. LPS served almost 41,000 students this year, an increase of 12 percent or 4,450 students over the last five years.  The 2017-2018 school year will mark the fifth straight year of growth greater than 850 students each year – every year. 
  • Student needs are growing as well – with increases for support in areas such as mental health and behavior issues, early childhood, and English Language Learners (immigrants and refugees). 

LPS officials recommend a slightly lower – essentially flat – tax rate for the coming school year. The 2017-18 proposed budget for LPS totals $420.8 million – a 4.6 percent increase over the previous year.  Last year, the LPS budget increased 5.95 percent to keep pace with the growing student population and growing student needs.

 

According to the most recent statistics, LPS ranked 228 out of 245 school districts in Nebraska in per pupil spending – spending $10,842 per pupil compared to the state average of $11,901.

 

Budget work session materials are located at: http://www.lps.org/about/budget/

 

** Liz Standish is available to offer presentations to the community about the proposed budget.

Posted on July 11, 2017


LES Sustainable Living Festival

Save the date!

Mark your calendar for LES’ annual Sustainable Living Festival.

Saturday, July 29 at 9 a.m.-noon

The Railyard, West Haymarket

You can get a glimpse of what the Sustainable Living Festival looks like on LES.com and our Facebook page.

 

Posted on July 05, 2017



Retirement rally in honor of Eastridge Principal

Staff, current and former students, and parents gathered outside of Eastridge Elementary School on Friday, June 30, to send principal Deb Dabbert off in style. The retirement rally was a surprise to Dabbert, and as she exited the building on her last day she was shocked to see the sidewalk to the parking lot lined with some of those who's lives she impacted throughout her career.

Dabbert has served as principal at Eastridge Elementary School since 2009, and was previously principal at Belmont and Hawthorne elementary schools, coordinator at Brownell Elementary School, and special education coordinator at Meadow Lane Elementary School.  Before that she taught at Huntington Elementary School, Omaha Public Schools and Palmyra/Bennet Schools.

Posted on June 30, 2017


Lincoln Public Schools:Highlights of 6/29 Lincoln Board of Education meeting

Lincoln Public Schools: 

Highlights of 6/29 Lincoln Board of Education meeting

The Lincoln Board of Education held a second Community Budget Forum on Thursday, June 29 at Lincoln North Star High School. The Board will hold a Budget Work Session at 4 p.m. July 11, and its next regular meeting at 6 p.m. on July 25.

Highlights of 6/29 Community Budget Forum

Liz Standish, associate superintendent of Business Affairs for Lincoln Public Schools, Thursday presented a summary of the Preliminary Budget for 2017-18 and asked for community remarks.  During the two Community Forums – Tuesday and Thursday of this week – community members came to share a variety of comments about the budget. 

On Thursday, Standish explained that the 2017-18 LPS preliminary budget was student-centered and focused on the incredible growth in our school district – in student numbers and in student needs.

She explained that LPS works on a three-year forecast system to ensure sustainable revenue for supporting all students.  “We use that forecasting system to even out swings…taking into consideration the interdependence between state aid and property taxes…And we always have more needs than we can budget.”

This year’s budget very much focuses on the rapidly growing school district and student numbers – and growth in supporting programs such as Early Childhood and English Language Learners, Standish stressed. “We are not just growing a middle school each year, we are growing in diverse needs – we are growing a diverse middle school each year.”

Budget highlights:   

  1. The preliminary budget provides appropriate staffing, services, supplies and resources to address significant growth in LPS student enrollment. LPS estimates an increase of 950 more students for 2017-18 –bringing total enrollment to almost 42,000 students. LPS served almost 41,000 students this year, an increase of 12 percent or 4,450 students over the last five years.  The 2017-2018 school year will mark the fifth straight year of growth greater than 850 students each year – every year. 
  2. Student needs are growing as well – with an eye on growth in English Language Learners (immigrants and refugees), as well as Early Childhood students.

LPS officials recommend a slightly lower – essentially flat – tax rate for the coming school year. The 2017-18 preliminary budget for LPS totals $420.8 million – a 4.6 percent increase over the previous year.  Last year, the LPS budget increased 5.95 percent to keep pace with the growing student population and growing student needs.

According to the most recent statistics, LPS ranked 228 out of 245 school districts in Nebraska in per pupil spending – spending $10,842 per pupil compared to the state average of $11,901.

Budget work session materials located at: http://www.lps.org/about/budget/

 

Posted on June 30, 2017


Lincoln Public Schools: Highlights of 6/27 Lincoln Board of Education meeting

Lincoln Public Schools: 

Highlights of 6/27 Lincoln Board of Education meeting

The Lincoln Board of Education held a Community Budget Forum and a regular meeting on Tuesday, June 27 at Lincoln Public Schools District Office, 5905 O St. The Board will hold a second Community Budget Forum Thursday, June 29, 7-8 p.m., Lincoln North Star High School, 5801 N. 33rd St.  The Board will hold a Budget Work Session at 4 p.m. July 11, and its next regular meeting at 6 p.m. on July 25. 

Highlights of 6/27 Lincoln Board of Education regular meeting

Evaluations, contracts approved

The Lincoln Board of Education Tuesday approved the evaluation and contract for Lincoln Public Schools Superintendent Steve Joel, as well as contracts for the top administrators at LPS. 

Referring to Joel’s evaluation:

  • Board member Kathy Danek: “Sometimes your job is not fun, but we appreciate all you do for Lincoln Public Schools and for the students of Lincoln.”
  • Board member Connie Duncan: “This is a 24-hour-a-day, seven days a week job, so I thank you for all that you do.”

For the coming school year, base annual salaries will be:

  • Steve Joel: $317,239
  • Jane Stavem, associate superintendent for Instruction: $222,274
  • Liz Standish, associate superintendent for Business Affairs: $209,359
  • Eric Weber, associate superintendent for Human Resources: $209,359
  • John Neal, assistant superintendent for General Administration and Governmental Relations, $183,525

LPS to move toward new Business/Human Resources platform

The Board voted to approve a contract that would lead to the creation of a new platform for Business and Human Resources functions, called the Enterprise Resource Planning Project (ERP). Major financing will come from the Depreciation Fund. 

This new $6.5 million platform will replace the AS 400 Financial/HR system.  The move will involve considerable work, but moving to a new data system for LPS Business and HR functions will eliminate many of the current stand-alone manual spreadsheet recording functions, which now require significant data input and manual processes. This is software that provides for the back office functions that support a school district:  accounting, payroll, benefits, staffing, budgeting, finance tracking and projects, employee self-service, etc.

Elementary boundary change

The Board authorized an elementary school boundary change focused on growth in the Firethorn area near 84th Street and Pioneers Boulevard.  To eliminate neighborhood homes and single lots being located within two different elementary attendance areas: Beginning with the 2017-18 school year and continuing until further modified, the Morley Elementary School boundary will conclude at 84th street, and the Pyrtle Elementary School attendance area will run along 84th and Pioneers. 

New transportation plan

The Board passed a transportation plan for the coming school year, with these changes:

  • Add special education education transportation to the new Marilyn Moore Middle School.
  • Additional Early Childhood bus runs to Cavett, Elliott and Wysong elementary schools.
  • Additional runs for Scott Middle School.

Homeless children  

The Board approved submission of the McKinney-Vento Grant application for approximately $44,000 – to help support the salary of the Homeless Outreach Advocate at LPS and to pay transportation costs for homeless children to attend school.  The McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act is the primary piece of federal legislation designed to address the problems that homeless children and youth have faced in enrolling, attending and succeeding in school.  

LPS policy

The Board approved policy changes for the wellness policy and several slight changes in policies related to Board Operating Procedures.

LPS completed process of refunding 2009 bonds

“We had very favorable results, better than we anticipated,” said Liz Standish, associate superintendent for Business Affairs, “so we have great news tonight.”

Following previous approval from the Board of Education, LPS officials reported that LPS had completed the process of issuing bonds related to the advanced refunding of the general obligation school bonds originally issued on February 11, 2009.  The school district issued around $80 million of refunding bonds.  Based on very favorable market conditions, the net present value savings (as a percentage of refunded bonds) was 16 percent or about $13.6 million.  The present value savings represent interest cost savings to the taxpayers.

Pay rates for subs and misc. employees

The Board of Education approved 2017-18 pay rates for substitutes and misc. employees. The salary increases range from no increase to a 2.89 percent increase, depending on the employee group.  The determination of what salary to recommend is made in conjunction with the supervisor of that employee group and an assessment of the availability of candidates for the positions. 

Legislative guidelines

The Board considered annual Legislative guidelines that provide guidance to school district staff and representatives – on proposed legislation or policy – communicating with governmental bodies when it is not possible to survey the Governmental Relations Subcommittee. The final vote is July 25.

Student Celebration

The Lincoln Board of Education recognized two recent graduates – representing the entire class of 2017 – who presented portions of their high school graduation speeches:

  • Ruben Aguilar, Lincoln North Star High School
  • Nebraska Grayson, Lincoln East High School

Highlights of 6/27 Community Budget Forum

LPS officials Tuesday presented the Preliminary Budget for 2017-18 and asked for community comments.  The 2017-18 LPS preliminary budget is very student-focused and addresses a variety of factors but is focused on the incredible growth in our school district – in student numbers and student needs.

“We always say we grow a middle school a year, but we are not just growing a middle school – we are growing an incredibly diverse middle school,” said Liz Standish, associate superintendent for Business Affairs for LPS.

Budget factors include:  

  • Providing appropriate staffing, services, supplies and resources to address significant growth in LPS student enrollment. LPS estimates an increase of 950 more students for 2017-18 –bringing total enrollment to almost 42,000 students. LPS served almost 41,000 students this year, an increase of 12 percent or 4,450 students over the last five years.  The 2017-2018 school year will mark the fifth straight year of growth greater than 850 students each year – every year. 
  • Student needs are growing as well – with an eye on growth in English Language Learners (immigrants and refugees), as well as Early Childhood students.
  • Addressing the growing complexity of the demographics and needs of LPS students: specifically addressing mental health needs, early childhood, special education and more.

Officials recommend a slightly lower – essentially flat – tax rate for the coming school year. The 2017-18 preliminary budget for LPS totals $420.8 million – a 4.6 percent increase over the previous year.  Last year, the LPS budget increased 5.95 percent to keep pace with the growing student population and growing student needs.

According to the most recent statistics, LPS ranked 228 out of 245 school districts in Nebraska in per pupil spending – spending $10,842 per pupil compared to the state average of $11,901.

A second Community Budget Forum is scheduled for: Thursday, June 29, 7-8 p.m., Lincoln North Star High School, 5801 N. 33rd St.

Budget work session materials located at: http://www.lps.org/about/budget/

 

Posted on June 27, 2017


MADD training open to everyone

At MADD, we know that our hopes for a safer future are riding on tomorrow’s drivers. By getting today’s youth off to a good start, we are taking a giant step toward fulfilling our vision of a nation without drunk driving. That’s why we’re focused on tackling underage drinking, a problem that threatens the safety of our kids and endangers entire communities, now and down the road. This is why MADD is offering an underage drinking prevention program training here in Lincoln on August 1. The training is presented at no cost and the materials and programs are provided at the training. For more information and to sign up please contact Amanda.miller@madd.org

Posted on June 21, 2017


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