1. First day of school
Spoiler alert: Don’t listen to the next announcement if you’re still thinking summer looms forever. This week we will officially pass the mid-point of summer break at Lincoln Public Schools. The first day of classes at LPS is Tuesday, August 12.
2. Site proposed for new middle school – For more information: Liz Standish, email@example.com
The Lincoln Board of Education’s Planning Committee has recommended a 26-acre location on the southeast corner near 84th Street and Yankee Hill Road as the site for the new middle school funded by the recent Lincoln Public Schools bond issue. The Board will vote final approval at the July 7 meeting.
Under the recommendation, the school district would purchase the land from the city of Lincoln – providing the added benefit of maintaining public property for public purposes and not taking private property off the tax rolls, according to Ed Zimmer, the Board member who chairs the Planning Committee. The location is also well positioned to create capacity to serve portions of Lux, Pound and Scott middle school attendance areas, Zimmer pointed out, which he said would address the significant growth in student enrollment at those schools. The new middle school will provide capacity for 850 students. The attendance area for the new school will be made official in the fall of 2015, two years prior to opening the school.
The 26 acres are a portion of the city’s 200-acre plot in that area of southeast Lincoln – an area that tentatively could eventually include a city park and city library. Zimmer noted that there is broader public benefit to choosing this site, because building a school in the area will provide investment in developing infrastructure and grading to perhaps act as a catalyst to begin further development of a future park.
3. Only one citizen speaks at two LPS public budget forums – For more information: Liz Standish, firstname.lastname@example.org
Lincoln Public Schools held two community budget forums the week of June 23, asking the community for conversation about the preliminary $363.3 million LPS budget for 2014-15. Only one citizen appeared to speak: Kit Boesch, administrator for the Lancaster County Human Services Department, who appeared to support the proposed addition of four fulltime social workers in next year’s budget. “I’m very proud of the way community schools and human services have reached across to collaborate on what is best for children…LPS social workers are amazing people…who enhance the ability to learn…and ultimately increase the district’s graduation rate.”
The Lincoln Board of Education has a work session set for additional budget discussion at: 5 p.m. Monday, July 7, LPS District Office, 5905 O St. In addition, a public hearing for the 2014-15 LPS budget is scheduled for 6 p.m. on Tuesday, August 12, at LPS District Office.
The preliminary $363.3 million Lincoln Public Schools budget for 2014-15 addresses a variety of factors in the LPS school district, including significant growth in student enrollment; growing complexity of the demographics and needs of LPS students; and the changing landscape of how we provide quality education. In fact, next school year LPS estimates an increase of 1,000 more students – the largest increase in half a century since the Baby Boomer years of Lincoln. Taking into consideration Lincoln’s taxpayers and the current economics of the community, the school district will keep the total tax levy flat. That means the school district portion of property tax rates will not increase.
4. School Board meeting changed – For more information: Mary Kay Roth, email@example.com
There is a change in the schedule for Lincoln Board of Education meetings in July. There will be a regular meeting at 6 p.m. Monday, July 7, in the Board Room at LPS District Office. (A work session for the budget is also scheduled that day – before the regular meeting at 5 p.m.) There will only be one Board meeting in July.
5. Contract approved for superintendent – For more information: Eric Weber, firstname.lastname@example.org
The Board of Education has unanimously approved a contract for LPS Superintendent Steve Joel. For the coming school year, the Board decided upon an annual salary package of $299,804, which is a 3.98 percent increase (the same increase as LPS educators received). Lincoln Board of Education President Don Mayhew said the new contract expresses “appreciation of the School Board for Dr. Joel’s excellent work.”
In addition the Board also approved a one-time $25,000 contribution to Joel’s retirement plan with a Board vote of five to two. “When you have a super star who is in demand…you want to make sure his contract is competitive,” Mayhew said.
6. New policy proposed for video surveillance – For more information: Liz Standish, email@example.com
Lincoln Board of Education members have discussed proposed policy for video surveillance at LPS that says: “The Lincoln Board of Education authorizes the use of video cameras and other passive electronic measures (such as motion detectors) for monitoring transportation and interior and exterior public areas for the purposes of ensuring the health, welfare and safety of staff, students and visitors, safeguarding district facilities and equipment and maintaining student discipline and an appropriate educational and work environment.” The Board will vote final approval on the proposed policy at the July 7 meeting.
Board member Katie McLeese Stephenson called video surveillance “something that can be a very effective tool, but one that must be used cautiously.” Board vice president Kathy Danek continued: “This policy gives notice to make sure the public understands that there will be video cameras at LPS on a very limited basis…that will be respectful of public and private places…protecting students’ right to privacy.”
The LPS budget for 2013-14 includes funding for surveillance cameras on LPS buses as well as for the six high schools.