Communications

Lincoln Public Schools Hot Topics: March 16, 2015

1. Fourth quarter at LPS

The beginning of Fourth Quarter at Lincoln Public Schools officially began on Monday, March 16 – a time that also marks the beginning of hiring season at LPS as well as a time when we conduct many student assessments. The final day of the 2014-15 school year is Thursday, May 21.

2. Second Open House set for LPS attendance areas – For more information: Liz Standish, lstandis@lps.org

The Lincoln Board of Education will hold a second open house for members of the public who wish to discuss and ask questions about the revised proposal for new attendance areas for Lincoln Public Schools. The event is set for 5 p.m. Tuesday, March 24 at LPS District Office, 5905 O St. – prior to the 6 p.m. Board meeting that evening.  The Lincoln Board of Education listened to feedback about suggested attendance area changes in our school district, the Board’s Planning Committee made some changes in the proposal in response and will hear additional comments at the March 24 open house.

The community is also welcome to comment and ask questions about attendance area options through an online version of the Open House – that will run through April. The Board is not expected to make the final selection until April.   Go to the front of our LPS website and click on Attendance Changes, or go to: http://www.lps.org/2014bond/attendanceareas/

3. Learning Lunch – For more information: Mary Kay Roth, mkroth@lps.org

The March Learning Lunch is set for 12:15 p.m. Tuesday, March 17, and will feature Kathi Wieskamp, director of Athletics and Activities at LPS, speaking about “Athletics: It’s More Than a Game.” The program will be live-streamed on the LPS website and run live on public access channels 80/99.

4. Spring groundbreakings – For more information: Mary Kay Roth, mkroth@lps.org

Save the date for three groundbreaking ceremonies set for this spring, all at 11 a.m. at the site of the new facilities:

  • April 24: The Marilyn Moore Middle School/and new Copple Family YMCA branch on the southeast corner of S. 84th Street and Yankee Hill Road.
  • May 1: The William H. Nuernberger Educational Center, a renovation of the former Bryan facility at 1801 S. 40th St.
  • May 8: The new Sally G. Wysong Elementary School, 7901 Blanchard Blvd. near S. 63rd Street and Yankee Hill.

5. At the movies – For more information: Randy Ernst, rernst@lps.org

NET, Nebraska’s PBS and NPR station, will present a special preview screening of the Academy Award nominated documentary ‘Last Days in Vietnam’ at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, March 26 in the Ted Sorensen Theatre at Lincoln High School, 2229 J St., Lincoln. Admission is free, and the event is open to the public. Doors open at 6 p.m.

Posted in Just Sharing by on March 16th, 2015

Lincoln Public Schools Hot Topics: March 2, 2015

  1. Thank a Teacher this week!

Tuesday. March 3, is Nebraska Teacher Recognition Day, so call or email a favorite teacher and thank them for their valuable commitment to the students of our community.

  1. Please give us your feedback on LPS attendance areas – For more information: Liz Standish, lstandis@lps.org

The Lincoln Board of Education hosted an Open House and held a Work Session Feb. 24 to continue a study and discussion on upcoming changes in attendance areas for elementary, middle and high schools. The community is welcome to comment and ask questions about attendance area options through an online version of the Open House – that will run through April – as Board of Education members are only just beginning the process of selecting new boundaries.

Go to the front of our LPS website and click on Attendance Changes, or go to: http://www.lps.org/2014bond/attendanceareas/

On this website you will find maps that outline the options discussed, as well as the attendance area boundaries tentatively proposed by the Board of Education’s Planning Committee as the first consideration from which to begin the discussion. The Board is not expected to make the final selection until April.

  1. Truancy Diversion project reduces absences – For more information: Jane Stavem, jstavem@lps.org

The Lincoln Board of Education heard a report in February about the Lancaster County Juvenile Truancy Diversion Project – a pilot launched in 2011 at Park Middle School and has been expanded to three middle schools and three high schools. The project has resulted in a dramatic 80 percent reduction in total absences for students participating in the program.

The project is a collaborative effort between the Juvenile Court and LPS and was created for students and their families as an alternative to traditional court proceedings. The short-term goals of the voluntary program are to improve school attendance, grades and attitude toward school. The long-term goals are for the student to maintain consistent school attendance after completion of the diversion program – followed by graduation from high school. Students receive: Supportive services to help with attendance and grades; rewards for good attendance and good grades; and upon successful completion, dismissal of truancy petition and records sealed immediately.

  1. Congrats to Larson

The Board of Education has recognized Matt Larson, math curriculum specialist for Lincoln Public Schools, elected president of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics

  1. Happy birthday Lincoln High For more information: Mike Wortman, mwortman@lps.org

Lincoln High School celebrates the 100-year anniversary of educating students at the current facility, 2229 J St. – with a Community Open House set for 2-4 p.m. Sunday, March 29.

  1. LPS raising money for Junior Achievement For more information: Steve Joel, sjoel@lps.org

Thanks to all the Lincoln Public Schools administrators who have filled 26 lanes for the Junior Achievement/Lincoln Public Schools Bowl-A-Thon on Saturday, March 7.

  1. Technology implement plan rolled out For more information: Kirk Langer, klanger@lps.org

The Lincoln Board of Education are discussing an implementation and fiscal program for phasing in a comprehensive technology plan at Lincoln Public Schools – quality teaching and learning supported by technology.

“We have been on quite a journey,” said Jane Stavem, associate superintendent of Instruction at LPS. “We’ll soon begin to dream about teaching and learning and innovation…as we bring more devices to our students.”

The Board is expected to take a final vote on the Technology Implementation Plan at the March 24 Board meeting. In January, the Board approved a Technology Resolution that directed LPS staff to develop a comprehensive technology plan within existing funding parameters, providing for appropriate staffing, proposing sufficient professional development and providing greatly expanded access to technology district-wide all in support of student learning. The plan will be reviewed annually.

 

Posted in Just Sharing by on February 26th, 2015

Lincoln Public Schools Hot Topics: February 16, 2015

  1. Review of LPS attendance areas – For more information: Liz Standish, lstandis@lps.org

In February 2014, the community of Lincoln approved a $153 million bond issue that includes construction of a new elementary and new middle school. When new schools open in our community, it is necessary to make adjustments in boundaries to create an attendance area for the new school, as well as to provide relief to nearby schools that are serving at or over capacity. The Lincoln Board of Education is responsible for establishing attendance areas and strives to make changes in attendance areas with thoughtful, prudent analysis and consideration.

The Board has scheduled several opportunities for review and feedback for recommended attendance areas for elementary, middle and high schools:

  • A Community Open House is set for 4-5 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 24, in the front lobby of LPS District Office, 5905 O St. A 5 p.m. Board Work Session concerning attendance areas will follow the Open House.
  • An online Community Open House will be available on the LPS website – lps.org open Feb. 24 through March 10 – with maps of the recommended areas, and a place for questions and comments.
  1. Spring groundbreakings – For more information: Liz Standish, lstandis@lps.org

Save the date for three groundbreaking ceremonies set for this spring, all at 11 a.m. at the site of the new facilities:

  • April 24: New Marilyn Moore Middle School (open fall of 2017)
  • May 1: Renovated Nuernberger Education Center (open fall of 2016)
  • May 8: New Sally G. Wysong Elementary School (open fall of 2016)
  1. Board considers implementation of technology plan For more information: Kirk Langer, klanger@lps.org

The Board of Education held several Work Sessions early in February specifically addressing a proposed implementation strategy for the Lincoln Public Schools Technology Plan.

A few quick highlights:

  • Devices: 2015: Devices for all sixth graders; pilot for high school students at the new Career Academy – 2016: Devices for third, fourth and fifth graders, seventh graders and students at two high schools – 2017: Devices for eighth graders, and for students at four remaining high schools; tablets in K-2 classrooms – 2018: Begin a rotation of refreshing devices every three years.
  • Computer labs: When students have access to devices, there will be a significant reduction in the need for computer labs in elementary, middle and high schools (decrease from a current 440 labs to 223 labs). Devices for the 3,200 LPS certificated staff will be refreshed every three years, but since those devices have a life cycle of six years – those computers will be used in the school computer for the three remaining years of their life cycle.
  1. Learning Lunch for February – For more information: Mary Kay Roth, mkroth@lps.org

The February Learning Lunch for LPS is set for 12:15 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 17, at District Office, and will feature Cindy Brunken, supervisor of the Speech-Language Pathology Program, speaking about “Managing Traumatic Brain Injury/Concussions in Our Schools.”

  1. Scott student wins spelling bee with ‘grotesque’ – For more information: David Smith, dsmith@lps.org

Scott Middle School seventh grader Blake Callahan took home the 2015 Lincoln Public Schools championship on Feb. 14 by spelling: “Grotesque” –second place went to Oliver Wright-Frank, a sixth grader from Irving Middle School. During more than two hours of competition more than 70 LPS spellers – fifth through eighth grades – survived words such as whey, outrageous, eschew, neophyte, umami, bhangra and souchong.

6. Vote for your favorite fictional educator For more information: Zachary Baehr, zbaehr@lps.org

Lincoln Public Schools is launching the third annual LPS March Madness Bracket Challenge: This year, we’re asking our community to vote for their favorite fictional educator from books, TV and movies. Go the front of the LPS website to vote in the first round.

Posted in Just Sharing by on February 16th, 2015

Lincoln Public Schools Hot Topics: February 2, 2015

1. LPS Annual Reports mailed to community members – For more information: Mary Kay Roth, mkroth@lps.org

We would like to inform you that a document called the Lincoln Public Schools Annual Report will be arriving in your mailbox sometime in the coming weeks – mailed to every household in the Lincoln community. We encourage you to read through the valuable information in this publication – talk to your friends and neighbors about our school district – save the Report as a valuable resource. The Annual Report is required by law for school districts to report student performance results and financial information to stakeholders, and is also a valuable piece of communication. Thanks for helping us spread the word about our great public schools in Lincoln.

2. School district considers student safety first for calling off classes Monday, Feb. 2 For more information: Liz Standish, lstandis@lps.org

LPS canceled classes on Monday, Feb. 2, the second inclement school day of the school year. Steve Joel noted: “Calling a snow day is always a serious decision, but we need to think about the safety of staff and students with those kinds of temperatures. In addition, city and school district crews have been working hard, but the blowing snow is making it difficult to keep streets and sidewalks clear. Our school district must make sure we have all sidewalks and streets safe and cleared throughout the 60 neighborhoods where LPS has schools and programs located.”

How does LPS decide on a snow day? There is only one set criteria: The safety of our students.  Regarding our judgment of the weather – a magic formula does not exist for determining whether to cancel classes. Closing schools for inclement weather involves forecasts from multiple sources, projected wind and wind chill, temperatures, accompanying precipitation, forecast throughout the day, and so forth.  In addition, we work with the City of Lincoln to gauge their ability to clean streets and sidewalks, based on time and severity and type of snow and ice. It is also important for us to remember that we are a community school district where most students attend neighborhood schools and many walk to their school.  Finally, timing is essential.  A snow storm at 6 p.m. and 6 a.m., or between 8 a.m. and noon, means different things in this decision.

3. Board of Education finalizes 2015-16 contract agreement For more information: Eric Weber, eweber@lps.org

The Lincoln Board of Education approved a total negotiated package increase of 3.25 percent for the 2015-16 school year for LPS educators in a one-year agreement with the Lincoln Education Association. That percentage includes salary increases; increased health insurance costs; and increases in Social Security and retirement costs.

 4. Learning Lunches bring untold stories of LPS For more information: Mary Kay Roth, mkroth@lps.org

This January at our monthly Learning Lunch, LPS featured Randy Farmer, supervisor of the Pathfinder Education Program, speaking about “Educating Youth in Detention.”  We often forget about all the different needs of our students, and this group of students, in detention, is truly away from view of the public. But it is a group of students who have a critical need to continue their education not only for the immediate success of the semester, but in possibly changing the trajectory of their lives. The role of a community school district, as described in Randy Farmer’s speech, is available on the LPS website.

The February LPS Learning Lunch is set for 12:15 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 17, and will feature Cindy Brunken, supervisor of the Speech-Language Pathology Program at LPS, speaking about “Managing Traumatic Brain Injury/Concussions in Our Schools.”  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.

5. Still time to Thank you teacherFor more information: Mary Kay Roth, mkroth@lps.org

There is still time to nominate your favorite teacher for the annual Thank You Teacher event – the deadline for submitting letters is Friday, Feb. 20.  The annual Thank You Teacher event is held in honor of Nebraska Teacher Recognition Day on Tuesday, March 3.  Anyone who lives in Lincoln/Lancaster County can nominate a teacher in any of five categories. Go to the front of the LPS website for more information.

Posted in Just Sharing by on February 3rd, 2015

Lincoln Public Schools Hot Topics: January 19, 2015

  1. Board of Education considers tentative 2015-16 contract agreement For more information: Eric Weber, eweber@lps.org

The Lincoln Board of Education has discussed a tentative contract with teachers for a one-year agreement for the 2015-16 school year – reached by the Lincoln Education Association and Lincoln Public Schools. The Board conducted the first reading of the contract at the Jan. 13 meeting and will take action at the Jan. 27 Board meeting.

The proposed agreement represents both judicious stewardship and providing fair compensation for excellent educators – with the goal of maintaining a fine school district, according to Steve Joel, superintendent of LPS, Jenni Benson, president of the LEA, and Kathy Danek, chair of the Board of Education’s Finance Committee. The contract – approved by 94 percent of LEA membership – provides a total package increase of 3.25 percent for the 2015-16 school year. That percentage includes salary increases; increased health insurance costs; and increases in Social Security and retirement costs.

  1. Thank you teacherFor more information: Mary Kay Roth, mkroth@lps.org

Please take time to nominate your favorite teacher for the annual

Thank You Teacher event – held in honor of Nebraska Teacher Recognition Day on Tuesday, March 3. Anyone who lives in Lincoln/Lancaster County can nominate a teacher in any of five categories – the deadline to nominate is Friday, Feb. 20. Go to the front of the LPS website for more information.

  1. Portraits of a Movement For more information: Pete Ferguson, pfergus@lps.org.

Schoo Middle School eighth-grade artists have created and are showcasing what they are calling, “Portraits of a Movement, “art pieces that reflect selected local and national individuals who have supported the Civil Rights movement. The showcase will be displayed throughout Lincoln in February at LPS District Office, the State Capitol, the City Libraries, the Clyde Malone Community Center and Schoo Middle School.  The artwork will then be auctioned off with proceeds going to Schoo as well as the annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Youth Rally and March.

  1. Technology moves forward For more information: Kirk Langer, klanger@lps.org

The Board of Education has approved a Technology Resolution that directs LPS staff to develop a comprehensive technology plan within existing funding parameters that will: provide for appropriate staffing, propose sufficient professional development and provide greatly expanded access to technology district-wide all in support of student learning. The initial plan will be presented to the Board no later than March 1, 2015 – and will be reviewed annually. Board member Kathy Danek stressed: “Technology does not drive curriculum – curriculum will drive the use of technology.”

  1. Learning Lunch Jan. 20 – For more information: Mary Kay Roth, mkroth@lps.org

The January Learning Lunch is set for 12:15 p.m. Tuesday, Jan 20, and will feature Randy Farmer, supervisor of the Pathfinder Education Program, speaking about “Educating Youth in Detention.” This year’s Learning Lunches focus on “Untold Stories” of LPS in the second annual series of bring-your-own-lunch presentations. Lunches are all held 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.

 

Posted in Just Sharing by on January 19th, 2015

What is the criteria for a ‘snow day’?

There is no set criteria. Closing schools for inclement weather involves forecasts from multiple sources, projected wind and wind chill, temperature, accompanying precipitation, forecast throughout the day, and so forth.

In addition, we work with the City of Lincoln to gauge their ability to clean streets and sidewalks, based on time and severity and type of snow / ice. So a snow storm at 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. mean different things in this decision.

Finally and most importantly, the safety of our students is of upmost concern. We are a community school district where most students attend neighborhood schools and many walk to their school.

Posted in Behind the Scenes, Your Questions Answered by on January 8th, 2015

Lincoln Public Schools Hot Topics: January 5, 2015

  1. Second semester begins at LPS For more information: Mary Kay Roth, mkroth@lps.org

The first day of second semester for Lincoln Public Schools is Monday, Jan. 5 – and the last day of the school year for students is Thursday, May 21. Spring break is the week of March 9-13. For full school calendar information please go to the LPS website and look under popular pages.

  1. Community coalition focuses on suicideFor more information: Russ Uhing, duhing@lps.org.

LPS is participating in the launch of a community coalition that will focus on prevention of suicide among the young people of Lincoln. The group is developing leadership, goals and guidelines for process.

Meanwhile, links and resources remain online on the LPS website for suicide prevention. Go to the front of the LPS website and look under Headlines. (http://www.lps.org/post/detail.cfm?id=9293)

  1. Annual Financial AuditFor more information: Liz Standish, lstandis@lps.org.

The 2013-14 financial audits for the school district have been completed, and a representative from Orizon CPAs spoke recently at a Lincoln Board of Education meeting to compliment the school district on a clean slate. The representative noted: “This is one of the best governmental agencies we work with…You do outstanding work.”

  1. Parent Involvement For more information: Mary Kay Roth, mkroth@lps.org.

LPS Superintendent Steve Joel calls your attention to the addition of a Parent Involvement FAQ to the LPS website. The webpage includes information about Curriculum, Parent Involvement and Discrimination. Go to the LPS website and look under what’s “Current.”  (http://home.lps.org/instruction/parent-involvement-faq/)

  1. Proposed 2016-17 school calendar info online/Board to vote at Jan. 13 meetingFor more information: John Neal, jpneal@lps.org

Lincoln Public Schools has added information online about the proposed school calendar for 2016-17. Go to the LPS website and look under what’s “Current.”(http://www.lps.org/about/calendar/proposal/index.html)

The Lincoln Board of Education will vote approval of the calendar at the next Board meeting: 6 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 13.  As always, the meeting will be live-streamed on the LPS website and aired on cable channels 80/99.

A joint committee of LPS and the Lincoln Education Association – along with the Board of Education’s Learning Committee – have recommended a school calendar for 2016-17 that sets: the first day of school for Monday, August 15, the last day on Wednesday, May 24, winter break Dec. 23-Jan. 3, and spring break, March 13-17.

  1. Learning Lunch Jan. 20 – For more information: Mary Kay Roth, mkroth@lps.org

The January Learning Lunch is set for 12:15 p.m. Tuesday, Jan 20, and will feature Randy Farmer, supervisor of the Pathfinder Education Program, speaking about “Educating Youth in Detention.”

This year’s Learning Lunches focus on “Untold Stories” of LPS in the second annual series of bring-your-own-lunch presentations. Lunches are all held 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. Community members are welcome to stay after lunch for a tour of the LPS District Office building.

 

Posted in Just Sharing by on January 5th, 2015

Lincoln Public Schools Hot Topics: December 15

  1. School calendar proposed for 2016-17 For more information: John Neal, jpneal@lps.org .  A joint committee of Lincoln Public Schools and the Lincoln Education Association – along with the Board of Education’s Learning Committee – have recommended a school calendar for 2016-17 that sets: the first day of school for Monday, August 15, the last day on Wednesday, May 24, winter break Dec. 23-Jan. 3, and spring break, March 13-17. It is the practice of the School Board to adopt calendars more than a full calendar year – before it is put in place.

This year the calendar was developed with additional input from an LPS staff survey and the Community Curriculum Council. The Board will take a final vote on the calendar at the Jan. 13 Board meeting.

Primary variables for considering the calendar are ensuring sound instructional practices:

  • Semester and quarter breaks typically the same for elementary and secondary schools.
  • The four quarters will typically include at least the minimum number of days necessary for students to reasonably learn the curriculum (42 days).
  • Student vacation days typically will not interrupt instruction just prior to major LPS, state or national assessments.

2. Resources for suicide preventionFor more information: Russ Uhing, duhing@lps.org. Lincoln Public Schools is committed to the safety of all students and has recently addressed a somber topic:  suicide prevention.  We are encouraging families, students, staff members and the larger community to talk about the issues related to suicide or other unhealthy actions.  The school district has added a list of resources on the LPS website with information on who to call, and how to have this tough yet important conversation.

Superintendent Steve Joel sent a message to all middle and high school families earlier this month – and that same week, our middle and high school teachers had a conversation with students about suicide. LPS has also reached out to our community and is coming together with mental health leaders, law enforcement officials, educators from the public and private sector and our families to utilize the expertise in our community – to talk about this issue.

 3Technology progressFor more information: Kirk Langer, klanger@lps.org. The Board of Education is discussing a Technology Resolution that dictates the Board will direct LPS staff to develop a technology plan that fits several requirements: falls within existing funding parameters, provides for appropriate staffing, proposes sufficient professional development and provides greatly expanded access to technology district-wide all in support of student learning. The initial plan will be presented to the Board no later than March 1, 2015 – and will be reviewed annually.   The Board will take a final vote on the resolution at the Jan. 13 Board meeting.

4. Hour of codeFor more information: Kent Steen, ksteen@lps.org.   Last week Lincoln Public Schools participated in the worldwide Hour of Code, a global movement reaching tens of millions of students in 180+ countries during Computer Science Education Week (Dec, 8-14). The movement is an effort to demystify code, and change the conversation around computer science. One moment from an Hour of Code event: An LPS first grader answers the question “What is Computer Science?” with: “It is electricity for your brain!”

5. Winter breakFor more information: Mary Kay Roth, mkroth@lps.org. The Lincoln Public Schools winter and semester break begins Saturday, Dec. 20. The first day of second semester for LPS is Monday, Jan. 5.

 

Posted in Just Sharing by on December 15th, 2014

Lincoln Public Schools Hot Topics: December 1

  1. Lincoln Public Schools contributes to community For more information: John Neal, jpneal@lps.org

Lincoln Public Schools conducted the 2014 Combined Community Campaign this fall and raised $156,938.32 with 47 percent of school employees contributing: both all-time records for LPS employees.

In fact, since 2003, LPS staff has donated over $1.4 million to the Combined Campaign.  In addition, in just the last seven months LPS staff has donated almost a third of a million dollars when you add their contributions to the BackPack Extra Mile Walk to the results of the Combined Community Campaign.

  1. LPS high school graduation rate continues gradual climb while district keeps more students in school – For more information: Jane Stavem, jstavem@lps.org

The high school graduation rate at Lincoln Public Schools held steady with a gradual increase for the class of 2014 – while setting new records for a declining dropout rate that keeps more students in school.

School district progress has happened due to intentional and systemic strategies: research, evidence-based solutions and individualized student support, according to LPS officials. Graduation rates reflect the entire K-12 education, not just high school.

For more than 20 years, LPS has followed the general rule of calculating graduation rates for students who start as ninth graders in the school district and graduate in four years on time. That means 87.2 percent of the students who started at LPS as ninth graders in 2010-11 – and did not move away – graduated on time in four years, compared to 87.1 percent the previous year.

The dropout rate for 2014 was 5.1 percent, down from 6 percent the previous year – and down from 8.8 percent just three years ago.

  1. Career Academy moves forward – For more information: Dan Hohensee, dhohen@lps.org

The Lincoln Public Schools/Southeast Community College high school Career Academy is hosting a Partnership Summit 10 a.m.-noon Thursday, Dec. 4, at Innovation Campus.  The event will include updates on: construction of the new high school program located on the  Southeast Community College campus, partnerships, curriculum summaries and progress on student enrollment.

  1. Community News – For more information: Zachary Baehr, zbaehr@lps.org

Lincoln Public Schools has published a special December edition of Community News, the publication distributed to all LPS elementary and middle school students. It is called the College Edition and features a wide variety of stories related to attending, choosing, preparation for and paying for college. Go to the LPS website and under keyword type: Community News.

  1. Honoring excellence in teaching – For more information: Eric Weber, eweber@lps.org

Steve Carr, an educator at the Information Technology Focus Program in Lincoln Public Schools, was officially honored recently as the 2013-14 Scottish Rite Distinguished Teacher of the Year – in a presentation at LPS District Office. The award is considered one of the more prestigious awards in the school district, recognizing an outstanding classroom teacher at LPS.

LPS Superintendent Steve Joel called Carr the consummate teacher and professional – and thanked the Lincoln Scottish Rite “for their ongoing support of LPS. They join us in the belief that there is no job more important to our community than teaching.”

Posted in Just Sharing by on December 1st, 2014

Lincoln Public Schools Hot Topics: November 17

  1. Community’s children a little warmer today – For more information: Mary Kay Roth, mkroth@lps.org

A gentle snow began to fall just as the doors to Bubba’s Closet opened on the morning of Saturday, Nov. 15, and Lincoln’s children wiggled into winter coats, jackets, mittens and hats.  The annual event – held this year at McPhee Elementary School right smack in the center of the community – offers free winter clothing to elementary-aged children through a coat drive coordinated and facilitated by Lincoln Public Schools elementary principals.

There were double the number of donations this year, principals said – helped in part by generous new coats from Ameritas and Lincoln Electric System.  Also thanks to Hanger’s Cleaners, the organization that cleans all the gently used donations.

  1. That dreaded word: Snow – For more information: Mary Kay Roth, mkroth@lps.org

Lincoln Public Schools uses a telephone communication system to alert families of weather-related school closing days in the winter – allowing the School District to notify families individually by telephone when school has been canceled due to bad weather.

When a decision is made in the evening, we try and notify families by 9:30 p.m. When a decision is made in the morning, we try and notify families by 6 a.m. Information about school closings is also posted prominently near the top of the LPS website. In addition, the news is announced on local radio and television stations, and on the Lincoln Journal Star website.

  1. Thanks to community for feedback: School Board members, superintendent affirm professional development, inclusiveness in schools For more information: Steve Joel, sjoel@lps.org

At the latest Board of Education meeting, Board members and LPS Superintendent Steve Joel addressed recent questions and concerns about professional development related to transgender issues – and affirmed the school district’s philosophy of providing inclusiveness in our schools.

Board member Don Mayhew: “The major point here is equal access, making sure every child has equal access to the classroom and equal opportunities.”

Board member Lanny Boswell: “I would like to thank all community members who came forward on this issue…The conversation has been civil and respectful…and this has been a good opportunity to describe our principles: Our primary mission is to educate our children, all our children – and all still means all.”

The Policy Review and Revision Committee specifically addressed policy issues related to this topic and, in summary, affirmed that recent professional development about transgender issues were in compliance with LPS policies. For the full summary: http://www.lps.org/post/detail.cfm?id=9234

  1. Learning Lunch: Immigrant story – For more information: Mary Kay Roth, mkroth@lps.org

The November LPS Learning Lunch of the school year is called My Immigrant Experience – Dreams, Challenges and the Reality of Living in an Adopted Country, set for 12:15 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 18, in the Board Room at LPS District Office. This year’s series is called, “Untold Stories” – and Tuesday’s presentation features Oscar Rios Pohireth, cultural specialist and coordinator for the Bilingual Liaison Program at LPS. This is a monthly series of bring-your-own-lunch presentations open to the community.

  1. Developing road map for technology plan– For more information: Kirk Langer, klanger@lps.org

The Lincoln Board of Education held a Work Session recently to continue discussion of the Lincoln Public Schools Technology/Instruction plan – called CLASS (Connected Learning Achievement Students Staff). This plan embraces a five-year initiative that includes both the equipment and hardware necessary for instructional technology as well as the necessary staff training and professional development, and connected classrooms and digital curriculum for students.

Don Mayhew, chair of the Board’s Technology Committee, said the Board aims to develop a road map to guide them in developing a general course of action and timeline – beginning with a Board resolution providing affirmation for the Technology Plan.

A few of the major broad issues Board members began to consider: emphasizing student achievement in connection to technology, creating sustainability and flexibility for the plan, priorities and implementation.

 

Posted in Just Sharing by on November 17th, 2014

Lincoln Public Schools Hot Topics: November 3

  1. New LPS school names honor early childhood advocate, educator, judge – For more information: Mary Kay Roth, mkroth@lps.org

The Lincoln Board of Education has approved three names: for a new elementary and middle school, and a soon-to-be renovated facility at 1801 S. 40th St. The names are:

  • Sally G. Wysong Elementary School, named after a long-time early childhood advocate who ran the Meadowlane daycare/preschool, and later served on the Lincoln Board of Education.
  • Marilyn Moore Middle School, named after the former Associate Superintendent for Instruction at LPS, a life-long educator who gave her career to the students of LPS.
  • Bill Nuernberger Education Center, named after the first separate juvenile judge for Lancaster County, a man who advocated that children and young people needed a separate court.

The elementary school will open in the fall of 2016; the middle school will open in the fall of 2017. The renovated facility – at 1801 S. 40th St. – will provide a home for middle school students who need additional behavior, emotional and social support.

2. Keeping our children warm – For more information: Mary Kay Roth, mkroth@lps.org

The annual Bubba’s Closet event will happen 8:30-9:30 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 15, at McPhee Elementary School, 820 Goodhue Blvd. (820 S. 15th St.). Any elementary student, accompanied by an adult, may come and choose appropriate items of warm winter clothing – for free. There are no income requirements. Bubba’s Closet is coordinated by LPS elementary school principals and is one of the many American Education Week activities planned in LPS.=

3. Student Vote reminds students of fundamental American right – For more information: Randy Ernst, rernst@lps.org.

Republican candidate Pete Ricketts would be governor – the minimum wage would pass – and Republican Ben Sasse would be Nebraska’s next new U.S. Senator – if Lincoln Public Schools students ruled the world. Student Vote 2014 happened at LPS on Oct. 30 with more than 20,000 students casting votes on their own version of Election Day.

Randy Ernst, curriculum specialist for Social Studies, notes: “Student Vote gives our students a chance to exercise one of the more fundamental American rights: the right to vote. And while the tendency for some will be to focus on who won, we at LPS focus on the process of what it takes to be an informed and active participant in the democratic process. Student Vote is good citizenship in action.”

4. Looking beyond labels to student learning – For more information: Jane Stavem, jstavem@lps.org.

LPS continues to set high standards while aiming to ensure every child succeeds and flourishes in school, despite what most local and national education officials consider an outdated and ineffective No Child Left Behind (NCLB) system that continues to label schools, according to Steve Joel superintendent of LPS. “We want every child to succeed and will continue to make this our absolute highest priority.”

Like almost all school districts in Nebraska, LPS did not meet what are called the Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) goals for 2014 as required by NCLB. For schools to meet benchmarks this year, 100 percent of all students – regardless of special needs, English language mastery, or other life-impacting circumstances – must have met proficiency standards. The labels mask what is really important here: LPS focuses on growth and improvement over time and strives to make sure that students, schools and the school district are showing continuous improvement. And that is exactly what is happening, reflected in the achievement and accomplishments of our students.

The No Child Left Behind Act was signed into law on January 8, 2002.  This legislation expired on September 30, 2007, without new educational legislation approved by Congress to replace it.

5.  Superintendent comments on recent conversation about professional development – For more information: Steve Joel, sjoel@lps.org

LPS Superintendent Steve Joel issued a statement at the last Board of Education meeting related to professional development issues. His comments follow:

  • “Our School District has gone through a valuable learning experience over the past month. I appreciate all those who have offered input, and I would like to say a few words of perspective and reflection.
  • First, I’d like to underline something that I know for sure. At Lincoln Public Schools we are committed to all students – and all means all. That’s something I knew long before a month ago, but I’m proud of how our staff and our Board of Education have united over the last few weeks to reinforce that core mission. Lincoln Public Schools welcomes every student who walks through our doors and is committed to providing them with the very best education we can.
  • Something else I know for sure: Our school district is committed to cultural proficiency – work to gain a better understanding of children and adults from diverse backgrounds so we can establish positive relationships with all. In fact, much of what we do in teaching and learning must be seen through the lens of cultural proficiency. This isn’t new, it has been a part of LPS for a number of years.
  • We are educationally stronger when we provide information and guidance through professional development to help staff tune in to the needs of all students. These materials are not shared with students nor are they shared in a classroom setting. These are materials that help our educators do a better job of teaching. In fact, every young person has the right to have informed, educated, and compassionate teachers.
  • We also know that some topics in cultural proficiency are very sensitive and make us uncomfortable. While we would never expect any member of our staff to alter their personal beliefs or values, we do expect that they will create welcoming classrooms – always.
  • Over the past month, we have had powerful conversations with citizens, staff and administrators who took valuable time to talk with us – to tell us they care about these issues – parents with varied opinions – parents who are all clearly committed to all children. I appreciate everyone who sent letters, emails, text messages, and spoke to us with civility. We are all stronger because of these healthy discussions. We value your words. We listened. And, I believe we learned from the various perspectives.
  • As we move forward in our continuing journey of cultural proficiency, we need to be very cognizant of the materials we are using. We need to make sure our resources are appropriate, purposeful, and clear. These documents were not, and I have directed that they be removed from our schools.
  • I trust our educators and value their professional judgment. We must do our very best to make sure the materials we use in professional development are aligned with our policies and best practices. We are reinforcing important guidance with all our administrators, principals, teachers, and staff.
  • First: We must all be increasingly aware it’s a new world out there – where materials can be posted on the web – in social media – sometimes without explanation or context. Our handouts and resources must be able to stand alone with clarity.
  • Second: It is appropriate to utilize experts when we are learning about a topic that is new to us. However, before we further distribute information from guest speakers, we need to ensure all those materials are consistent with district policies and best practices.
  • Finally: In the event a subject matter or resource materials may cause questions or concerns among staff or community – I am asking our staff to seek a review from school and district leadership. In the event that questions continue to persist, I am asking our LPS Cultural Proficiency Implementation Advisory Steering Committee to appraise the materials and lend guidance.
  • LPS has an over-arching policy of equity and non-discrimination. LPS does not and will not discourage the terminology “boys and girls” when referring to students, but LPS does and will promote a safe environment that recognizes individual differences so that 39,000 students can feel included, welcomed and successful. That is what makes me proud of our staff, our district and ultimately our results.”

Posted in Just Sharing by on November 3rd, 2014

Lincoln Public Schools Hot Topics: October 13

1. Purple penguins and the truth – For more information: Steve Joel, sjoel@lps.org

Following is a summary of Lincoln Public Schools stance on professional development and gender identity of students.

  • LPS educates all students who come to our schools: It is our legal and moral obligation to educate each and every one of them to become successful and productive citizens.
  • LPS recognizes all students need a safe and supportive learning environment to progress, thrive and succeed academically and developmentally in school. It is essential for a school district to create a culture, conditions and expectations in which all students feel safe, supported and fully included.
  • There has been recent confusion and misinformation recently about professional development related to transgender, gender nonconforming and gender conforming students. We would like to set the record straight.
  • LPS conducts ongoing professional development for our teachers that is rich and multi-dimensional: teaching better skills in academic areas, as well as providing information and awareness to help meet the needs of all our kids. As we encounter increasingly diverse populations of students, it is incumbent upon our district – administrators, teachers, staff and students – to understand the characteristics of the complex communities we serve, as well as to play an important part in creating and sustaining that safe and supportive learning environment.
  • Please understand this: Our teachers are allowed to use boys and girls in the classroom – and they do so in schools across the community. They have NOT been mandated to stop using those wonderful terms. We do not promote a political agenda. That is not our role.
  • We do give our staff members guidance in ways to be sensitive to the needs of all students. We do offer research that tells us transgender students are particularly vulnerable to bullying and suicide. LPS is legally mandated – and morally obligated – to ensure students are protected from discrimination and bullying of all kinds. That’s going to be something LPS continues to focus on. We will not back away. We want the people of the Lincoln community to understand that we will continue to do the very best work we can for all Lincoln children.
  • Our recognition that we must provide a safe learning environment for all students – has not detracted from our focus on academic achievement. In fact we know that our focus on all students and all families has helped our school district achieve an 87 percent graduation rate and high achievement scores.
  • Our Lincoln Board of Education has clear policy that says: We are committed to providing the highest quality education for all Lincoln Public Schools students. We fully support this statement and policy,

For more information: http://lps.org/post/detail.cfm?id=9100

 2. New LPS school name recommendations – For more information: Mary Kay Roth, mkroth@lps.org

  • Sally Wysong Elementary School.
  • Marilyn Moore Middle School.
  • Bill Nuernberger Center.

The Lincoln Public Schools Community Naming Committee has approved those three recommendations for a new elementary and middle school – and a new title for the renovated facility at 1801 S. 40th St.

The new elementary and middle school will both be located in southeast Lincoln: The elementary school will open in the fall of 2016; the middle school will open in the fall of 2017. The renovated facility – at 1801 S. 40th St. and previous home to the Bryan Focus Program – will soon provide a home for middle school students who need additional behavior, emotional and social support.

  • Sally Wysong was a long-time early childhood education advocate who ran the Meadowlane daycare/preschool in north Lincoln. Later she served several terms on the Lincoln Board of Education as a staunch supporter of early childhood education.
  • Marilyn Moore was the Associate Superintendent for Instruction at LPS for many years, retired several years ago, and started her career in education as a middle school teacher with LPS. She often talked about the specific needs of middle school students, and initiated the process to transition LPS from the junior high to the middle school model.
  • Bill Nuernberger was the first separate juvenile judge for Lancaster County, a man who advocated that children and young people needed a separate court.

The three nominations for names will be submitted to the Lincoln Board of Education for consideration and final approval.

3.  Awareness and funds take the place of Sydni’s hair – For more information: Zachary Baehr, zbaehr@lps.org

Sydni Sherman raised $1,151 and started a conversation longer than her hair, well longer than her hair used to be. The sixth-grader at Lefler Middle School cut her once shoulder-length brown hair as part of a local fundraiser.

“I know a lot of people with cancer, and my friend died two years ago, and his aunt (cut her own hair) last year,” she said. Her friends have been supportive, and some think it’s “pretty cool.”

And if others talk about why Sydni had her hair cut off?

“That’s kind of the point.”

For the full story and photo: http://lps.org/post/detail.cfm?id=9092

4. Keeping our children warm – For more information: Mary Kay Roth, mkroth@lps.org

If your elementary-aged children have outgrown their winter coats, jackets, sweaters, sweatshirts or jeans, please consider dropping off those gently used clothes at any Hanger’s Cleaners throughout the month of October: from Wednesday, Oct. 1, through Friday, Oct. 31– so that other children might keep warm this winter.

Then, on Saturday, Nov. 15, those clothes will be available to the community’s children at the annual Bubba’s Closet event: 8:30 – 9:30 a.m. at McPhee Elementary School, 820 Goodhue Blvd. (820 S. 15th St.) Any elementary student, accompanied by an adult, may come and choose appropriate items of clothing to adopt and use – for free. There are no income requirements. Sacks will be provided by Lincoln Public Schools.

Bubba’s Closet is one of the many American Education Week activities planned in LPS.

Posted in Just Sharing by on October 13th, 2014

Lincoln Public Schools Hot Topics: September 29

Lincoln Public Schools Hot Topics: September 29

1.  Student enrollment rockets to more than 39,000 – For more information: Jane Stavem, jstavem@lps.org.

Official enrollment for Lincoln Public Schools rocketed to more than 39,000 students for the 2014-15 school year with a record 1,222 more students than last year: growth seen throughout the community from north to south, from schools on the outer edges of Lincoln to schools in central Lincoln. That boost tallies up to an LPS enrollment of 39,066, representing an increase of more than 3 percent in students over last year – students from pre-kindergarten through high school – and a whopping increase of about 9 percent in the last five years.

Two LPS high schools – Lincoln Southeast High School and Lincoln North Star High School – have enrollments of more than 2,000. Two LPS middle schools – Lux and Scott – now have enrollments of more than 1,000.  In fact, every grade level has more students than last year except for second, fourth and seventh grades.

2.  Grant allows focus on PBiS training  – For more information: Russ Uhing, duhing@lps.org

Lincoln Public Schools has received a grant from the U.S. Department of Education – with funding at about $250,000 per year for five years. The money will be used to support staff and students through enhancement of the school district’s PBiS efforts, programs and strategies. The grant – officially called a School Climate Transformation Grant – comes at the perfect time for LPS, as the school district has already started implementation of PBiS (Positive Behavior Interventions and Support), a multi-tiered behavioral framework.

Much of the grant funding will go toward broadening training to expand capacity and knowledge of PBiS, efforts that will likely connect with all certified staff.

 3. Naming new schools – For more information: Mary Kay Roth, mkroth@lps.org

More than 400 people submitted 100 suggestions for the new elementary and middle school in Lincoln, and 50 suggestions for the renovated facility on South 40th street. A special Lincoln Board of Education/Community Committee will meet this week to agree upon recommended names for each of the three facilities, then the Board of Education will consider final approval for those recommendations.

LPS is creating names for:

  • New elementary school at South 61st Street and Blanchard Blvd.
  • New middle school at southeast corner near 84th Street and Yankee Hill Road
  • Renovated facility at 1801 S. 40th St.

4. Keeping our children warm - For more information: Mary Kay Roth, mkroth@lps.org

If your elementary-aged children have outgrown their winter coats, jackets, sweaters, sweatshirts or jeans, please consider dropping off those gently used clothes at any Hanger’s Cleaners throughout the month of October: from Wednesday, Oct. 1, through Friday, Oct. 31– so that other children might keep warm this winter.

Then, on Saturday, Nov. 15, those clothes will be available to the community’s children at the annual Bubba’s Closet event: 8:30 – 9:30 a.m. at McPhee Elementary School, 820 Goodhue Blvd. (820 S. 15th St.) Any elementary student, accompanied by an adult, may come and choose appropriate items of clothing to adopt and use – for free. There are no income requirements. Sacks will be provided by Lincoln Public Schools.

Bubba’s Closet is one of the many American Education Week activities planned in LPS.

5. Mosaic 2014 –For more information: Chris Haeffner, chaeffne@lps.org

Mosaic 2014 runs through Friday, Oct. 3 on the second floor of the Lincoln Public Schools District Office, Library Media Services. Mosaic features the unveiling of the best and brightest new titles in multicultural literature.

Posted in Just Sharing by on September 29th, 2014

Lincoln Public Schools Hot Topics: September 15

  1. Early positive reports on Culler digital learning pilot – For more information: Gary Czapla, gczapla@lps.org

Members of the Lincoln Board of Education recently were provided with an update on the Digital Learning project at Culler Middle School – where staff members are instructing students through digital curriculum delivered online, and providing a tablet for each student.

Culler Principal Gary Czapla said it “is pretty amazing that only four weeks ago we handed out 650 digital devices to students…and saw the smiles on their faces and the smiles on their parents’ faces. Czapla noted some wonderful early observations:

  • Staff rallying around each other with collaborative efforts.
  • Good instruction was happening at Culler prior to this year – but the digital devices are enhancing instruction: “The level of engagement is amazing.”
  • There are fewer behavioral issues among students, and much cooperation among students: students helping students.
  • Connectivity in the building is excellent – when there might be 600-plus student devices and teacher devices operating pretty seamlessly.
  • Staff has had amazing support and professional development.
  1. Naming new schools – For more information: Mary Kay Roth, mkroth@lps.org

More than 300 people have already submitted possible names for the school district’s two new schools – one elementary and one middle school – as well as one renovated facility on South 40th street. The deadline to submit your suggested names is Friday, Sept. 19. Go to the front of the LPS website, or: http://www.lps.org/nameit/2014-08/index.html

LPS is asking for names for:

  • New elementary school at South 61st Street and Blanchard Blvd.
  • New middle school at southeast corner near 84th Street and Yankee Hill Road
  • Renovated facility at 1801 S. 40th St.
  1. Students across LPS volunteer to do good deeds – For more information: Zachary Baehr, zbaehr@lps.org

Student Serve – a student-led, district-wide initiative committed to instilling civic responsibility and preserving democratic ideology in students – happened throughout LPS the week of Sept. 8. Students in elementary schools helped conduct volunteer service at their own schools, while middle and high school students volunteered across the community.

  1. Learning Lunches begin anew – For more information: Mary Kay Roth, mkroth@lps.org

Come hear a few of the “Untold Stories” of Lincoln Public Schools in the second annual series of bring-your-own-lunch presentations, Learning Lunches – beginning with a program at noon on Tuesday, Sept. 16. Lunch programs begin at 12:15 p.m. in the Board Room at LPS District Office, 5905 O St. This year’s schedule begins with: Glass Plate Photos of Early Lincoln/More treasures from the LPS Archivespresented by Ed Zimmer, Lincoln’s historic preservation planner and a member of the Lincoln Board of Education.

  1. Vision of technology and learning – For more information: Kirk Langer, klanger@lps.org.

The Lincoln Board of Education held a Work Session in September to discuss the vision and operational plan for technology-aided instruction in the school district – especially in light of two pilot programs this year at Culler Middle School and Riley Elementary School exploring the use of digital instruction. The Lincoln Public Schools Technology/Instruction plan – called CLASS (Connected Learning Achievement Students Staff) – embraces a five-year initiative that includes both the equipment and hardware necessary for the plan as well as the necessary staff training and professional development, and connected classrooms and digital curriculum for students.

Kirk Langer, director of Technology at LPS, explained that the technology plan is beginning with the necessary infrastructure added to schools throughout the district, funded by the recent bond issue. Langer urged the Board to consider a plan for fiscal sustainability for this plan.

Posted in Just Sharing by on September 15th, 2014

Lincoln Public Schools Hot Topics: September 1

1. LPS achievement shows steady improvement – For more information: Jane Stavem, jstavem@lps.org

Lincoln Public Schools monitors student progress and achievement in a broad variety of ways, and results from the 2013-14 Nebraska State Accountability (NeSA) scores – the piece of the achievement puzzle based on state standards – were released to the public recently and show steady improvement at LPS, as well as above-state-average numbers in most grades and subject areas.

Highlights:

  • This year every LPS high school’s reading scores improved – sometimes as much as 8 to 9 percent over the previous year – and now LPS district-wide high school reading and math scores are tied or are better than state averages
  • The percent of LPS students proficient in math exceeded the state average in all grades – and the percent of students proficient in math on 2014 NeSA was at an all-time high in grade 4 and every secondary grade.

Stavem pointed to a wide variety of intentional strategies and programs coming together: constantly increasing the rigor in instruction, raising student expectations, studying patterns and trends to identify areas of challenge, providing targeted professional development and looking at individual student needs.

2. Summer School 2014 – For more information: Pam Robinson, probin@lps.org

LPS continues to enhance summer school programs in order to provide multiple opportunities for success across the school district – including course credit acquisition and continued skills reinforcement. The ending enrollment for high school summer school 2014 totaled 1,154 students – up from 804 students completing courses in 2007.

Highlights of the high school summer program:

  • Summer school is open to high school students in grades 9-12 who may sign up for two courses. Two sessions are offered: 8 and 10 a.m.
  • Students may also finish an on-line eLearning course they were working on second semester.
  • This year 53 courses were offered.
  • Students on free and reduced lunch – can attend summer school for free.

3. ACT scores continue strong: 100 percent of juniors taking test – For more information: Leslie Lukin, llukin@lps.org

Lincoln Public Schools students continued to perform well with results from the second year of a pilot program – starting in April of 2012 – in which every LPS high school junior takes the ACT college-ready test.

Leslie Lukin, director of Assessment and Evaluation for LPS:  “We love this program, we are opening doors for our students, ultimately maximizing opportunities for their future – saying to kids, you’re in this game. Quite frankly, students who typically wouldn’t have taken the ACT often do better than expected, which suddenly opens the door for college, opens the door for dual credit.”

In April of 2012, LPS started participation in the pilot of what is called the District Choice in-School Testing (DCST) program for the state of Nebraska in which all LPS juniors take the ACT at no cost on a regularly scheduled school day (as opposed to the previous process of paying for the test and taking it on a Saturday morning).   Previously about 65 percent of LPS graduates took the ACT, but now virtually 100 percent take the ACT, one of the most common standardized college entrance examinations.

4. Lincoln Board of Educations approves 2014-15 budget – For more information: Liz Standish, lstandis@lps.org

The Lincoln Board of Education has approved the final 2014-15, $363.6 million budget – a budget that strengthens teaching in the classroom and keeps the tax levy rate flat.

The budget addresses a variety of factors in the LPS school district: Significant growth in the number of students attending school at LPS (this school year, LPS estimates an increase of 1,000 more students); growing complexity of the demographics and needs of LPS students; the changing landscape of how we provide quality education.

A quality education system is a long-term investment, not simply an expenditure – and our community, our businesses, our families, our students deserve a great school system.

5. Lincoln High first in nation to offer letter in slam poetry – For more information: Zachary Baehr, zbaehr@lps.org

Lincoln High School is the first school in the nation to offer a letter in Slam Poetry. (A letter is an honor given to an athletic or activity participant based on participation, meeting team expectation and character.)

Deborah McGinn, Lincoln High teacher: “As sponsor of the Lincoln High Slam Poetry group, I believe that if sport teams, speech, drama, and debate could letter for excellence in athletic, academic and dramatic performances, so should the slam poets who are also extraordinary at producing original polished writing on a stage…After winning the State Championship in 2013 and 2014, I knew it was the perfect time to rationalize lettering in this valuable activity.”

Posted in Just Sharing by on September 2nd, 2014

Lincoln Public Schools Hot Topics: August 18

1. LPS opens 2014-15 school year with success – For more information: Mary Kay Roth, mkroth@lps.org

Classes began for Lincoln Public Schools Tuesday, August 12, and the first week of school ran smoothly with students and families, staff, teachers and administrators all engaged and ready to go – with wide-eyed kindergartners hugging good bye to teary moms (and dads), sixth graders facing down their first middle school lockers and ninth graders on the cusp of high school transformation. Classes released one hour earlier than normal during the first week of school, but regular hours resume the week of August 18.

2. Lincoln Board of Educations aspires to 90 percent graduation rate by 2019 – For more information: Steve Joel, sjoel@lps.org.

LPS will aspire to graduate 90 percent of high school students on-time by the year 2019 – according to a list of annual goals and priorities approved by the Lincoln Board of Education in August. The official list of goals is:

  • Sustain and continually increase our graduation rate and work towards graduating every student on time. While we strive to assist all students to graduate on time, we value student success whenever achieved. By 2019, 90 percent graduation rate as measured by LPS indicators.
  • Fulfill the promises of the bond, including the opening of The Career Academy by 2015, using the 10-year Facilities and Infrastructure Plan as our guide.
  • By May 1, 2015, adopt a Board Resolution for district-wide implementation of the Technology Plan.

Ongoing priorities are:Keep our focus on learning to meet the unique needs of all students; Legislative advocacy; Effective alignment of fiscal resources; Effective stakeholder engagement.

3. New Student Information System offers new opportunities – For more information: Kirk Langer, klanger@lps.org.

As the new school year begins, LPS launches Synergy, a new Student Information System featuring a parent portal called Synergy ParentVUE (replacing Pinnacle Internet Viewer/PIV used the last several years). This new system provides valuable information such as: Communications from teachers, attendance, progress grades, assignment calendars, student schedules, course history and more.

4. Efficient transportation – For more information: Bill McCoy, bmccoy@lps.org.

The Lincoln Board of Education has approved a change in the 2014-15 transportation plan that will switch using cabs for transporting homeless students to LPS schools – and instead purchase four smaller-sized buses and two vans for these transportation needs. The proposal is what is called “budget neutral” and does not require additional funding.

5. LPS budget close to approval – For more information: Liz Standish, lstandis@lps.org

The Lincoln Board of Education held a public hearing on August 12 inviting community comments about the proposed 2014-15 proposed $363.3 million budget. The budget will receive final approval at the August 26 Board meeting.

Kathy Danek, chair of the Board’s Finance Committee, said the proposed budget focuses on student learning and student success, specifically allocating money for new staffing, special education, technology, English Language Learners, and more.

Only one community person made remarks at the public hearing: Wanda Caffrey, representing the Lincoln Independent Business Association, praised LPS for working well with LIBA over past years – and applauded the school district for adding teachers to the classroom. She urged the Board to consider lowering the tax levy, as well as several other funding changes.

The proposed LPS 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, this 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.

Posted in Just Sharing by on August 18th, 2014

Lincoln Public Schools Hot Topics: August 4

1. First day of school at LPS: Tuesday, August 12 – For more information: Mary Kay Roth, mkroth@lps.org

Classes begin on Tuesday, August 12 at Lincoln Public Schools. The first day of school in our high schools is reserved for ninth graders, with sophomores, juniors and seniors joining them on Wednesday, August 13. Classes release one hour earlier than normal – during the first week of school.

2. Superintendent says LPS in sweet spot – For more information: Steve Joel, sjoel@lps.org.

LPS Superintendent Steve Joel told school district leaders at the annual Leadership Conference that our school district is in what he called a “sweet spot,” a time when our public schools are doing great work. Joel said the “sweet spot” involves a wide variety of events and factors coming together:

  • The move into LPS District Office is complete.
  • The school district added 960 additional students last year – and is expecting 1,000-plus for 2014-15.
  • The community is growing, attracting jobs from all over United States
  • Our community supported the recent bond issue with 68 percent approval: “It happened because our community trusts our work.”
  • The LPS graduation rate has increased to 87.1 percent, exceeding the original goal – so, Joel said, the school district will likely consider creating a new goal.
  • LPS continues to attract top talent.
  • State funding increased by $13 million.
  • The Career Academy already has many vibrant partnerships and supporters – a national model coming to Lincoln.
  • A new Foundation president is bringing high energy and creativity to help support our work.

3. LPStudent Serve – For more information: Mary Kay Roth, mkroth@lps.org.

StudentServe at LPS this year is scheduled for the week of Sept. 23-28, with student volunteer work culminating on Saturday, Sept. 28.   Student Serve is a student-led initiative that encourages all students from kindergarten through high school to serve the community in a wide variety of civic ways.

4. New vocabulary for responding to school incidents – For more information: Joe Wright, jwright@lps.org.

In the interest of creating the safest environment possible for all our students and staff, LPS is adopting a new and consistent district-wide vocabulary, protocol and practice for defining our response to various school incidents.   This school year, LPS is expanding the school district’s safety program to include what is called the Standard Response Protocol. The premise is simple. There are now four specific actions that can be performed during a critical incident: Lockout (secure the perimeter), Lockdown (locks, lights, out of sight), Evacuate (to the announced location) and Shelter (using announced type and method). By standardizing the vocabulary, all stakeholders can understand the response and status of an event.

5. LPS looking for bus drivers – For more information: Bill McCoy, bmccoy@lps.org.

LPS continues to fill open positions for school bus drivers, regular and substitute. Regular routes are available as well as substitute positions. Route hours are typically 6:30 to 9:30 a.m., and/or 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. Excellent driving record required.

6. LPS budget process continues– For more information: Liz Standish, lstandis@lps.org

A public hearing for the 2014-15 LPS budget is scheduled for 6 p.m. on Tuesday, August 12, prior to the regular Board of Education meeting. The Board will approve a final budget at the Board meeting scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday, August 26.

Posted in Just Sharing by on August 4th, 2014

Lincoln Public Schools Hot Topics: July 14

1. First graduation ceremony held for summer school students – For more information: Pam Robinson, probin@lps.org

More than 100 Lincoln Public Schools high school students received their official diplomas in a special summer completion ceremony at Lincoln North Star High School this month – a first such ceremony for LPS. In total, 110 students completed their classes at summer school, which came to a close on Thursday, July 1. For photos, go to the front of the LPS website – www.lps.org and click on “Photos: Summer Completion Ceremony.”

2. New LPS middle school site approved – For more information: Liz Standish, lstandis@lps.org

The newest Lincoln Public Schools middle school will open in the fall of 2017 on a 26-acre site at the southeast corner near 84th Street and Yankee Hill Road, according to a decision made in early July by the Lincoln Board of Education. According to the plan, the school district will 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. The middle school will be funded by the recent $153 million LPS bond issue.

The middle school will likely serve students from Lux, Pound and Scott middle school attendance areas, though the official 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. Plans also call for the middle school development to include a partnership with the YMCA – much like the arrangement at Schoo Middle School in Fallbrook.

3. New transportation proposed for homeless LPS students – For more information: Liz Standish, lstandis@lps.org

The Board of Education has discussed a new section of the proposed 2014-15 transportation plan that would switch using cabs for transporting homeless students – to purchasing smaller buses and vans owned by LPS. Board members in general liked the proposal, noting several positives: easing reliance on cab service for homeless students, ensuring that the drivers are thoroughly vetted for security reasons, and investing in a more diversified and flexible fleet of buses with smaller vehicles. The proposal is what is called “budget neutral” and will not require additional funding.   The Board will take a final vote on the issue at the August 12 meeting.

  4. LPS grad to lead Oakland School District – For more information: Mary Kay Roth, mkroth@lps.org

Antwan Wilson, a 1990 Lincoln High School graduate, was recently named the superintendent of Oakland Unified School District in Oakland, CA. Wilson started with LPS in 1980 and attended: Hartley, Clinton and Elliott elementary schools, Lefler Junior High and Lincoln High. He provided insight into his own high school career path and what he hopes to accomplish in Oakland in a question-and answer document on the front of the LPS website, www.lps.org. Click on: “Q&A with Antwan Wilson.”

Among Wilson’s comments: “I have had a passion to make a difference and to work towards social justice for all young people by reforming the education system. Growing up in Lincoln, NE was an important component to my development.  I was in a city with a good educational system and around many young people who knew they were going to college. Lincoln High, specifically, was important because in addition to being able to go to school with friends who were talented and going to college, I also had the benefit of working with some educators who encouraged me to think and get involved: Marilyn Greve, Thomas Christie, Ross Tegeler and Sue Cain to name a few…Additionally, I got to experience the benefits of being pushed to succeed academically by some of my teachers during my time at LHS.”

5. LPS budget process moves on – For more information: Liz Standish, lstandis@lps.org

The Lincoln Board of Education held a work session on Monday, July 7, to further discuss the 2014-15 proposed $363.3 million budget. Board member Don Mayhew pointed out that LPS spends more than 83 percent of its budget on instruction, and praised the school district for smart priorities.

Liz Standish, associate superintendent for Business Affairs at LPS, gave a summary of the proposed budget and described a slight change in numbers. The final amount for the negotiated 3.95 percent package increase came in slightly lower than estimated – by more than $478,000 – and that amount was tentatively added to funding for technology equipment.

A public hearing for the 2014-15 LPS budget is scheduled for 6 p.m. on Tuesday, August 12, at LPS District Office.

The proposed 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.

 

Posted in Just Sharing by on July 14th, 2014

Lincoln Public Schools Hot Topics: June 30

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, lstandis@lps.org

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, lstandis@lps.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, mkroth@lps.org

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, eweber@lps.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, lstandis@lps.org

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.

Posted in Just Sharing by on June 30th, 2014

Lincoln Public Schools Hot Topics: June 16

1. Preliminary LPS 2014-15 budget – – For more information: Liz Standish, lstandis@lps.org

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. However, due to anticipated slight increases in assessed property valuation for the community, and increases in state aid to education, the school district plans to pay for additional educators to meet growing classroom needs. In addition, LPS is budgeting smart for 2014-15 by building capacity necessary to best support and serve students.

A few numbers: The preliminary budget represents a 5.13 percent increase over last year. The school district currently ranks 234th out of 249 school districts in Nebraska for per pupil spending (only 15 districts spend less per pupil than us).

2. Public invited into budget conversation – For more information: Liz Standish, lstandis@lps.org

Lincoln Public Schools invites the public into the conversation about the preliminary 2014-15 budget for the school district. Two Community Budget Forums are scheduled in June, which will both include a budget presentation as well as opportunities for comments and questions:

  • Tuesday, June 24, 5 p.m., LPS District Office, 5905 O St.
  • Thursday, June 26, 7 p.m., Lefler Middle School, 1100 S. 48th St.

The Lincoln Board of Education has a work session set for additional budget discussion at: 4:30 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, 5905 O St.

3. Contracts for superintendent, exec team reflect increase of all LPS educators – For more information: Eric Weber, eweber@lps.org

Annually, the Board of Education evaluates and reviews the contract of the LPS Superintendent of Schools.  For the coming school year, the Board is considering an annual salary package of $299,804 for LPS Superintendent Steve Joel, which is a 3.98 percent increase from his current salary of $288,329 (the same increase as LPS educators received). In addition to the salary package, the Board proposed that Joel receive a one-time $25,000 contribution to his retirement plan. Board member Don Mayhew, who led the evaluation process for Joel, explained that the special contribution was proposed for several reasons: Recognizing exemplary performance and an opportunity to incent him to stay in Lincoln. The Board will take a final vote at the June 24 meeting.

The Board has approved the two-year contract for each of the three Associate Superintendents and the Assistant to the Superintendent be amended and extended for one year to June 30, 2016 – with an overall total package increase of 3.95 percent be for 2014-15 (again, the same overall amount as included in the negotiated contract for LPS educators).

 4. Two new additions named to Curriculum and InstructionFor more information: Jane Stavem jstavem@lps.org

We are pleased to announce two new additions to the department of Curriculum and Instruction at Lincoln Public Schools:

  • Lance Nielsen will be the new supervisor of Music for LPS. Most recently, Nielsen has been an associate professor of Music for Doane College, and prior to that was an instrumental music teacher and director of bands at Lincoln East High School.
  • James Blake is joining the department as the curriculum specialist for Science. Blake comes to LPS from the Nebraska Department of Education where he served as the state director of Science Education. Blake is returning to LPS where he taught secondary science at Lincoln North Star High School.

 5. Good bye, Ed Zimmer For more information: Steve Joel, sjoel@lps.org

Longtime Lincoln Board of Education member Ed Zimmer has announced that he will not run again when his term finishes in the spring of 2015. LPS Superintendent Steve Joel said: “The community and state owe great thanks for the tremendous contributions that Ed has made over the years.   Public education in Nebraska is better today because high quality board members like Ed continued to keep kids first.”

6. Memorable moments in LPS athletics– For more information: Zachary Baehr, zbaehr@lps.org

LPS Athletics has begun its look back on the 2013/14 sports season with Memorable Moments. Each week of June and July, two moments will be unveiled in random order. The ‘Memorable Moments’ include state champions, game-winning plays and a big upset.To stay up to date and for photos of some past sporting events, visit the LPS Athletics Facebook page.

Posted in Just Sharing by on June 16th, 2014