CommBlog

Welcome to 2014!

Sometime during the 2013-2014 winter break, the LPS web site will be transitioning from the current format, which it has maintained since 2007. The new design brings many advantages over the old and will better enable us to utilize our website as a communication tool in the coming years. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Web Sites and Social by on December 18th, 2013

Lincoln Public Schools Hot Topics: April 14

Lincoln Public Schools Hot Topics:  April 14

1. Superintendent’s Teacher Advisory Task Force – For more information: Mary Kay Roth, mkroth@lps.org

The final meeting of the 2013-14 school year for the Superintendent’s Teacher Advisory Council – called together by Superintendent Steve Joel – was held at Lincoln Public Schools District Office on April 2.

Highlights from Steve Joel, superintendent of LPS:
  • “We work very, very hard here, not because it’s a job – but because it’s a mission. And it’s great to be part of that.”
  • One of the first bond issue priorities is developing and constructing the high school Career Center:  “It’s the most intense construction project we’re involved in right now.”
  • his year LPS is being more aggressive in offering contracts earlier to strong candidates for teaching positions.
  • “We are looking at some second order change with technology – and that means the changes will be embraced and feared…But we are committed to this track. This is where America is going…In the next five years we will see transformation with teaching and learning.” The recent bond issue will allow LPS to get the infrastructure – the wires in the walls – in place for digital classrooms.

2. BackPack Walk raises record funds for hungry children – For more information: Shari Styskal, sstyskal@lps.org.

A big cheer and thank you to everyone who helped make the seventh annual Backpack Extra Mile Walk a complete success – and a record-breaking year    We are grateful for all the hard work and effort, resulting in a triumphant April 5 walk this year that raised more than $174,000 for the hungry children of Lincoln – and close to one million dollars raised over the last seven years.

3. YMCA partnership  – For more information: Scott Wieskamp, swieska@lps.org

In early April, the Lincoln Board of Education approved a memo of intent related to the local YMCA, establishing the intent of LPS to work collaboratively with the YMCA in the development of a new middle school to be built in southeast Lincoln.

4. Big Tickets for free athletic events for kids – For more information: Kathi Wieskamp, kwieska@lps.org

LPS Athletics is offering a special promotion called, Big Ticket, offering free entry to elementary and middle school students for LPS sports events the week of April 21-26.  Events include tennis, baseball, soccer and  track and field. For more information: http://home.lps.org/athletics/2014/04/09/185/

5. Lux teacher helps with Honor Flight – For more information: Zachary Baehr, zbaehr@lps.org

Kathi Mercure, social studies teacher at Lux Middle School, recently traveled with the final Korean War Honor Flight program.  Mercure was honored to be selected as one of the 100 volunteers, called guardians, who pushed wheelchairs and oxygen tanks through security screening points, onto the planes and kept the wheels of the tour rolling smoothly throughout the day.  She explained that her uncle, Frank Joseph Gilbert, was killed in action in Korea on April 14, 1952 and in May of that same year Mercure was born. Interestingly, she and her husband adopted two daughters from South Korea: Megan in 1982 and Mary in 1985. Read more about her experiences at http://www.lps.org/post/detail.cfm?id=8554

6. Graduating class of 2014 – For more information: Mary Kay Roth, mkroth@lps.org

Graduation ceremonies for the six LPS high schools are all scheduled for Sunday, May 25.

Pinnacle Bank Arena:

  • 12:00 PM: Northeast High School
  • 3:00 PM: East High School
  • 6:00 PM: Southeast High School

Pershing Center:

  • 1:30 PM: Lincoln High School
  • 4:30 PM: Southwest High School
  • 7:30 PM: North Star High School

Posted in Just Sharing by on April 14th, 2014

Lincoln Public Schools Hot Topics: April 1

1. BackPack Walk for hunger: Saturday, April 5 – For more information: Shari Styskal, sstyskal@lps.org.

The annual Lincoln Public Schools BackPack Extra Mile Walk is set for 10 a.m. on Saturday, April 5 at Lincoln East High School. In six years of walking, LPS employees have raised more than $800,000 for the Food Bank of Lincoln’s BackPack program, which provides Friday food-filled backpacks to children who need help with nourishment over the weekends. The two major goals of the walk are: Raising money for the hungry children of our community; educating our community about the needs of children at LPS. And one extra bonus: This year, any LPS employee who contributes $25 or more – can wear jeans to work the entire week of April 7.  

2. Career Center moving along  – For more information: John Neal, jpneal@lps.org

A groundbreaking ceremony for the new High School Career Center is scheduled for 11 a.m. Friday, May 2.   Meanwhile, a new joint Board – with LPS and Southeast Community College – has been formed to govern the developing CenterThe Board includes: Jack Huck and Dale Kruse, representing SCC; and LPS Superintendent Steve Joel and Lincoln Board of Education member Richard Meginnis, representing LPS.  Major decisions to date from the inter-local Board include:  A vote to move ahead to find and hire an administrator to lead the new Career Center; consideration of a name for the Center with recommendations expected late in April; approval of plans and specifications, construction costs, construction schedule and initial construction budget for the Center.

3. East takes state speech for 13th year – For more information contact Zachary Baehr, zbaehr@lps.org.

Lincoln East High School won the annual State Speech championship – sponsored by the Nebraska School Activities Association state – winning the title for the 13th year in a row.  The annual competition drew 1,800 students from 200 schools to Kearney.

4. Charlotte’s WebFor more information contact Zachary Baehr, zbaehr@lps.org.

This spring Lincoln Public Schools celebrated March Madness – Book Bracke – asking our students, families and community to vote for their favorite books from childhood and adolescence.   With more than 600 people voting throughout the contest, Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White edged out Green Eggs & Ham as this year’s most popular classic childhood book.

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

The Lincoln and LPS communities are welcome to attend the next and final Learning Lunch of the season set for noon on Tuesday, April 1 at LPS District Offices, 5905 O St.  This month’s bring-your-own-lunch presentation is called, Built for Learning: Something Old, Something New: LPS Architecture into the 21st Century. Doors open at noon, the program will begin at 12:15 p.m. The program now airs live on public access channel 80, and is live streamed on www.lps.org. Videos of the lunches are posted on the LPS website.

6. Update on technology plan – For more information: Kirk Langer, klanger@lps.org.

This school year the vision for digital learning classrooms for LPS is beginning to take shape, according to an update on the school district’s Technology Plan presented to the Lincoln Board of Education recently. “We feel very strongly, we’re confident in our approach, that we are letting instruction drive what digital conversion needs to look like in our classrooms,” said Jane Stavem, associate superintendent for Instruction.

Construction work inside the first two groups of schools that will receive technology infrastructure – funded by the recent bond issue – will begin late this spring and be completed before the new school year begins this fall. The technology projects in all schools will be completed by the beginning of the 2015-16 school year. Kirk Langer, director of Technology at LPS, described the many steps and stages that were started – and in some cases finished – during this school year in what has been titled the CLASS Action Plan (CLASS: Connected Learning Achievement Students Staff).

Langer also is recommending that the school district conduct a pilot program for a digital mathematics program in one middle school during the 2014-15 school year with every student in mathematics – grades 6-8.  “We would like to bring the digital classroom into reality,” said Matt Larson, curriculum specialist for mathematics at LPS, “as we plan on middle level math curriculum delivered digitally…This is about high quality instruction, first and foremost, and technology is a tool to provide it.”

Posted in Just Sharing by on April 1st, 2014

Lincoln Public Schools Hot Topics: March 17

1. March madness and favorite childhood books – For more information: Zachary Baehr, zbaehr@lps.org

Lincoln Public Schools celebrates spring and their own version of March Madness – with Book Bracket, asking our students, families and community to vote for their favorite books from childhood and adolescence.  We’re down to the semi-finals with four books: Where the Sidewalk Ends, Charlotte’s Web, The Very Hungry Caterpillar and Green Eggs & Ham. To vote, go to the front of the LPS website – www.lps.org – and click on Book Bracket!

This week, watch for a live chat with Lincoln East High School students, the director of LPS Library Media Services – and you.

2. Science Fair offers bubbling volcanoes, invention and discovery – For more information: Curt Mann, cmann@lps.org

Elementary and middle school science projects will take over the Lancaster County Event Center this week for the annual Zoetis-LPS-Novartis Science Fair set for Thursday from 5 to 8 p.m. More than 625 students from 44 LPS schools are registered. In addition, 200-plus volunteers are signed up and ready to help – many people who show up year after year.  The Science Fair is open to our community free of charge.  Food is also available for reasonable prices.  Beyond the fabulous student experiments – 25 special presenters are featured in what is called the Hands On Science Center, where kids of all ages can learn about almost anything: rodeo, physics, entomology, engineering and of course, the dissection of squid!

3. Career Center moving ahead – For more information: John Neal, jpneal@lps.org

The first joint board meeting for the High School Career Center – organized through an inter-local agreement between officials from Lincoln Public Schools and Southeast Community College – is set for March 20.  Priority topics include:  Construction bids, naming of the facility and authorizing a search for a dynamic leader.  LPS Superintendent Steve Joel will serve on this joint Career Center Board to represent LPS, along with Lincoln Board of Education member Richard Meginnis.   The Career Center is set to open in the fall of 2015 and will feature blocks of career-related classes that match the specific employment and job needs of our community.  The Center will provide opportunities for students who are planning to go on to college, or who are looking into more immediate careers and employment – helping them plan for their lives after high school.

4. Nebraska Teacher Recognition Day – For more information: Mary Kay Roth, mkroth@lps.org

The annual Lincoln Public Schools Thank You Teacher breakfast recognized five special teachers – and the students who nominated them – in an annual ceremony underlining the importance of teachers in our classrooms. To watch a video of the ceremony go to: https://www.lps.org/video/

5.  Spring break is over!!! Fourth quarter begins.

Posted in Just Sharing by on March 17th, 2014

Lincoln Public Schools Hot Topics: March 3

1. Obesity rates drop and fitness improves for LPS students – For more information: Michelle Welch, mwelch@lps.org

Lincoln Public Schools students in kindergarten through eighth grade are weighing in at healthier weights and testing more physically fit – for the third year in a row, according to a report released recently by LPS and the Partnership for a Healthy Lincoln (PHL).   The number of students who are obese – kindergarten through eighth grade – has fallen from 17.2 to 15.8 percent, while the number of students who passed the school district’s aerobic fitness test has increased from 68.4 to 70.7 percent.

LPS officials point out that this improvement is especially important because studies show students who pass the fitness test perform better on math, reading and science tests. In addition, they are encouraged to see that improvements in healthy weight and fitness are occurring across ethnic and socioeconomic lines.

Officials say no single program has created this type of healthier school environment, but instead a combination of gradual shifts and efforts such as daily recess and physical activity breaks at the elementary level – as well as fine-tuning the school lunch program, classroom reward choices and classroom celebrations. In addition, school and neighborhood fund-raising efforts have created walking tracks and outdoor learning areas that beautify and benefit the community.

2. Nebraska Teacher Recognition Day – For more information: Mary Kay Roth, mkroth@lps.org

Nebraska Teacher Recognition Day is Tuesday, March 4.  Don’t forget to thank a teacher!  LPS annually honors the day with a Thank You Teacher Breakfast held at the Governor’s Mansion – recognizing five educators and the students who wrote prize-winning letters about those teachers.

3. LPS administrators lead fund-raising efforts for Junior Achievement – For more information: Mary Kay Roth, mkroth@lps.org

The first Lincoln Public Schools Administrator Junior Achievement Bowling event was held in February with Lincoln Public Schools raising $8,238.85 for Junior Achievement – and filling more lanes than any other organization in town.

4. Karen Saunders honored For more information: Jadi Miller, jmiller7@lps.org

Karen Saunders, curriculum specialist for elementary Reading and Language Arts, has received the Nebraska State Reading Association’s Distinguished Educator of Reading Award. The award recognizes people that have made an impact on literacy in their classroom, school, and community.

5. External accreditation garners LPS commendation For more information: Bess Scott, bscott@lps.org

LPS has successfully completed its 2013-14 External Accreditation Visit, required every five years by the Nebraska Department of Education, reviewing the school improvement process, progress on goals and provide written recommendations.

Commendation themes for the district are:

  • Professional Learning Communities
  • High Quality Staff
  • Effective Communication
  • Family Involvement and Sense of Community
  • Positive Behavior Intervention Support
  • Culture of Purpose and Direction

Recommendation themes for the district are:

  • More Consistent and Deliberate Use of Challenging, Intentional and Engaging Instructional Strategies
  • More Effective Use of Data in Classrooms, in PLCs, in Schools, in the District
  • More Professional Development to Support the Recommendations

6. Learning Lunch Tuesday, March 4  For more information: Mary Kay Roth, mkroth@lps.org

The Lincoln Public Schools Learning Lunch for March is set for noon on Tuesday, March 4, in the Board Room at LPS District Offices, 5905 O St. The Lunch topic for March is Built for Learning/Bust and Boom: Great Schools of the Great Depression and of the Post-War Years – focusing on the few fine schools built by LPS in the 1930s, and introducing the fast-moving decade of the 1950s when over a dozen schools were built to accommodate the children of the Baby Boom.  Doors to the Board Room open at noon, the program begins at 12:15 p.m., questions-and-answers happen at 12:35 p.m. The Learning Lunch will be broadcast live on public education access channel 80, and streamed live on the LPS website (go to www.lps.org at 12:15 p.m. March 4 and click on the icon).

 

Posted in Just Sharing by on March 3rd, 2014

Lincoln Public Schools Hot Topics: February 17

1. LPS bond issue approved by 67 percent of Lincoln voters For more information: Mary Kay Roth, mkroth@lps.org

Almost 67 percent of Lincoln voters have approved the Lincoln Public Schools $153 million bond issue. The 58,800 total votes cast in the election represent a 36 percent turnout for Lincoln’s registered voters in this historic mail-in election. The bond issue will fund a new elementary school, a new middle school, a career academy, additions and renovations at existing facilities, and security and technology improvements throughout the community. The 2014 bond issue will be funded based on the current levy rate with no planned levy increase.

Superintendent Steve Joel:  “The city of Lincoln is wonderful, with citizens who believe in the power and importance of public education. We are humbled by their support…We had a great voter turnout, and this is an overwhelming endorsement of our work.”

2. New president named for Foundation for LPS – For more information: Steve Joel, sjoel@lps.org

The Foundation for Lincoln Public Schools’ board of directors has introduced Wendy Van as the Foundation’s new president. She succeeds Sharon Wherry, who retired. Van comes to the position from the Nebraska Children and Families Foundation, where she served as vice president of development. Most of her career has been spent in non-profit leadership and fundraising within the human services arena including positions at Friendship Home, St. Monica’s and NET Television and Radio. She is active in several community and civic groups including TEDxLincoln and Lincoln Rotary Club #14.

3. Last week of nominations for Thank you teacher contest – For more information: Mary Kay Roth, mkroth@lps.org

Students have one more week in the annual LPS Thank You Teacher contest.  Entries are due Friday, Feb. 21. You can find information and nomination forms at: http://www.lps.org/apps/teacher_recognition_day/index.html

4. Save the date for BackPack Walk For more information: Shari Styskal, sstyskal@lp.org

The annual BackPack Extra Mile Walk is set for April 5. For more information: http://wp.lps.org/backpack/

5. McDermott to remain interim principal at Southwest For more information: Eric Weber, ewber@lps.org

Lincoln Public Schools announced that Hugh McDermott’s placement as interim principal of Lincoln Southwest High School has been extended through the 2014-15 school year.   “We are pleased to announce that Hugh has agreed to continue in his role as principal at Southwest,” said Eric Weber, associate superintendent for Human Resources at LPS.  “We’re glad he’s going to stay with us for another year, and we are confident this consistency and continuity will be valuable for the Southwest community.”

6.  Lux student returns to conquer 2014 LPS spelling bee For more information: Mary Kay Roth, mkroth@lps.org

When Lux Middle School sixth grader Divith Rajagopal finished in second place last year in the annual Lincoln Public Schools Spelling Bee, he promised to return again and do better. Indeed he did.  The young man was the winner and champion of the 2014 LPS Spelling Bee held in February – conquering fierce competition that involved tackling the final two words: salvageable and marionette.  Scott Middle School seventh grader Akshay Sharma came in a close second.

Posted in Just Sharing by on February 16th, 2014

Lincoln Public Schools Hot Topics: February 3

1. Salary agreement approved for LPS educators For more information: Eric Weber, ewber@lps.org

The Lincoln Board of Education has approved a 2014-15 contract with Lincoln Public Schools educators for a one-year agreement negotiated with the Lincoln Education Association.  The contract – voted on and approved by 93 percent of LEA membership – provides a total package increase of 3.95 percent for the 2014-15 school year. That percentage includes salary increases; increased health insurance premiums of 2.3 percent; and increases in Social Security and retirement costs. (The average total salary will increase 3.68 percent.)

2. Social media update For more information: Zachary Baehr, zbaehr@lps.org  

The Lincoln Public Schools social media numbers continue to rise.  The LPS Twitter account just topped 5,000 followers, a 30 percent increase since November.  LPS Facebook has grown 5.6 percent in that same time period.

3. Face the Chamber  For more information: Mary Kay Roth, mkroth@lps.org

LPS Superintendent will be the featured speaker at the annual Face the Chamber meeting set for noon on Wednesday, Feb. 5, at the Lincoln Country Club.

4. Sweet story at Southwest High School For more information: Zachary Baehr, zbaehr@lps.org  

Lincoln Southwest High School senior Natasha Naseem watched her five-year-old sister, Emaan, endure and survive renal cancer – but she also saw the isolation her sister suffered from battling a fierce disease.  So Natasha turned those lessons into a cause: Providing Valentine’s Day cards for each patient at the Children’s Hospital in Omaha. “Personally seeing my sister having to miss out not being able to be with her friends day after day, I realize it means a lot when they get a note or card from someone who cares.”

Each day, for the past few weeks, Natasha has been open for business in the Commons area at Southwest – asking staff and students to sponsor a $3 Valentine’s Day card.  She has raised nearly $500 and will continue her efforts until Feb. 10.

5  Spell this: Spelling Bee set for Saturday For more information: Mary Kay Roth, mkroth@lps.org

The annual LPS Spelling Bee will be held Saturday, Feb. 8: Doors open at 7:45 a.m. and fierce competition starts at 8:30. The event happens at Culler Middle School, 5201 Vine St., and features LPS students in grades five through eight.  The public is invited to attend – and these students are astonishing.  Last year – for instance – spellers were faced with words like:  amateurish, malachite, artifice, exuberant, aristocracy, paprika, liverwurst, charisma, quandary, cavalry, regatta and benevolent.  Whew.

6.  February Learning LunchFor more information: Mary Kay Roth, mkroth@lps.org 

The Lincoln Public Schools Learning Lunch for February is set for noon on Tuesday, Feb. 4, in the Board Room at LPS District Offices, 5905 O St.

The Lunch topic for February will continue the presentation of the school construction boom of the 1920’s – titled  “Built for Learning: The Enduring Legacy of the 1920s.”  *  Something new this month: The Feb. 4 Learning Lunch will be broadcast live on public education access channel 80, and streamed live on the LPS website (go to www.lps.org at 12:15 p.m. Feb. 4 and click on the icon).   Doors to the Board Room open at noon, the program begins at 12:15 p.m., questions-and-answers happen at 12:35 p.m.  Community members are welcome to stay after lunch for a tour of the new LPS District Office building.

7.  Final reminder for Bond issue ballots For more information: Liz Standish, lstandis@lps.org

Lincoln Public Schools will finish up the final informational bond issue presentations early in February, continuing to provide the community with facts about the $153 million LPS bond issue.  Voted ballots that are sealed in the “Return Identification Envelope” must be returned no later than 5 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2014, by one of the following means:

  • U.S. Mail: Place one first-class postage stamp on the envelope.
  • Hand Delivery: Ballots may be delivered during regular business hours to the Election Commissioner of Lancaster County, 601 N. 46th St., during regular office hours (8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.).
  • Hand Delivery: Ballots may be deposited at any time 24 hours a day in the ballot drop box located in front of the building located at 601 N. 46th St.

Posted in Just Sharing by on February 3rd, 2014

Lincoln Public Schools Hot Topics: January 21

1. Tentative salary agreement for LPS educators For more information: Eric Weber, ewber@lps.org

The Lincoln Education Association and Lincoln Public Schools have reached a tentative contract with teachers on a one-year agreement for the 2014-15 school year. The proposed agreement continues the school district’s deep commitment to serving the community’s students, according to Steve Joel, superintendent of LPS, Jenni Absalon, president of the LEA, and Don Mayhew, president of the Lincoln Board of Education.

The contract – voted and approved by 93 percent of the LEA membership in early January – provides a total package increase of 3.95 percent for the 2014-15 school year. That percentage includes salary increases; increased health insurance premiums of 2.3 percent; and increases in Social Security and retirement costs.

  • Steve Joel: “We have wonderfully dedicated teachers who view their work as a mission and much more than a job. When we celebrate our academic and graduation successes it is because of the outstanding efforts in our classrooms as teachers strive to strengthen relationships with children each and every day.”
  • Jenni Absalon: “This proposed salary and benefits package reflects the fine quality of Lincoln’s public school teachers and their commitment to our students and our community.”
  • Don Mayhew: “I think this is a fair settlement that is respectful of taxpayer resources and acknowledges the high quality work of our teachers.”

The Lincoln Board of Education conducted the first reading of the contract at the Jan. 14 meeting and will take final action on the tentative agreement at the Jan. 28 Board meeting.

2. Ballots go out this week for LPS bond issue For more information: Liz Standish, lstandis@lps.org 

On December 10, 2013, the LPS Board of Education voted to place a $153 million bond issue on the ballot for a special election on February 11, 2014.  The bond issue includes a new elementary school, a new middle school, a career academy, additions and renovations at exiting facilities, and security and technology improvements throughout the community.

The special election to vote on the bond issue will be a mail-in election – and the bond issue ballots will be mailed between Jan. 22 and 31, 2014 to all registered voters residing in the LPS District.  Ballots will be mailed first class with a return address from the Lancaster County Election Commissioner.

Voted ballots that are sealed in the “Return Identification Envelope” must be returned no later than 5 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2014, by one of the following means:

  • U.S. Mail: Place one first-class postage stamp on the envelope.
  • Hand Delivery: Ballots may be delivered during regular business hours to the Election Commissioner of Lancaster County, 601 N. 46th St., during regular office hours (8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.).
  • Hand Delivery: Ballots may be deposited at any time 24 hours a day in the ballot drop box located in front of the building located at 601 N. 46th St.

3. Thank You Teacher – For more information: Mary Kay Roth, mkroth@lps.org

Nebraska Teacher Recognition Day is Tuesday, March 4, 2014, and the annual Thank You Teacher Contest will once again offer students and former students an opportunity to tell teachers they are appreciated.  Five teachers and the students who nominate them will be invited to breakfast at the Governor’s Mansion on Tuesday, March 4.

Submit a written description of how your teacher made a difference in your life via mail or online.  For more information to the LPS website.

4. Raising money to feed our students For more information: Shari Styskal, sstyskal@lps.org

The sixth annual LPS BackPack Extra Mile Walk is set for April 5 at Lincoln East High School.  In six years of walking, LPS employees have raised almost $810,000 for the Food Bank of Lincoln’s BackPack program, which provides Friday food-filled backpacks to children who need help with nourishment over the weekends.

The two major goals of the walk are:

  • Raising money for the hungry children of our community
  • Educating our community about the needs of children at LPS

Posted in Just Sharing by on January 21st, 2014

Lincoln Public Schools Hot Topics: January 6

1. Weather Day For more information: Mary Kay Roth, mkroth@lps.org

The Lincoln Public Schools District closed schools on Monday, Jan. 6, in the best interest of the safety of students, due to frigid winter weather bringing forecasted wind chills of 35 degrees below zero for early Monday morning and throughout the day on Monday.

LPS Superintendent Steve Joel: “Academics are essential and we are prudent in making these kinds of decisions, but the safety of our students must come first. We rarely see these kinds of wind chills in Lincoln, Nebraska, and we must consider the well-being of our children walking to school – as well as our students of all ages outdoors in this kind of dangerous cold weather.”

This is the first inclement weather day for LPS this school year. Additional instructional time is built into the school calendar and the school district will not need to make up this time.

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

The Lincoln and school communities are welcome to the next Lincoln Public Schools Learning Lunch set for noon on Tuesday, Jan. 7, in the Board Room at LPS District Offices, 5905 O St.  This month’s bring-your-own-lunch presentation is called, Built for Learning: The Enduring Legacy of the 1920s,” and will feature the many LPS schools constructed in the 1920s.

The Learning Lunches this year – “Built for Learning: An Architectural Historian’s Perspective on LPS History – feature Ed Zimmer, Lincoln’s historic preservation planner and a member of the Lincoln Board of Education.    Doors to the Board Room will open at noon, the program will begin at 12:15 p.m., questions-and-answers will happen at 12:35 p.m.   Please bring your own lunch.  Community members are welcome to stay after lunch for a tour of the new LPS District Office building.

Additional Learning Lunches are set for Tuesdays at noon in the LPSDO Board Room on:  Feb. 4, March 4 and April 1.

3. Spotlight on art For more information: Lorinda Rice, lrice@lps.org

Student artwork returned to Lincoln Public Schools District Offices this winter, marked by an official Spotlight on Art reception held in December.  The student artwork displayed at District Offices – framed and displayed in the hallways throughout the building – recognizes hundreds of talented student artists.   LPS Art Consultant, Lorinda Rice: “Our vision is to showcase the talents and creative process that our students possess.”

4. High schools preparing to help eight-graders, familie For more information: Pat Hunter-Pirtle, ppirtle@lps.org

During January, February and early March counselors from the high schools are scheduled to help eighth-grade students select courses for the 2014-2015 school year. Parents/guardians and their eighth-grade students are invited to attend informational meetings held at all six LPS high schools where they learn about graduation requirements and alternatives available for completing those requirements.

5. Information available about special LPS bond issue For more information: Liz Standish, lstandis@lps.org 

On December 10, 2013, the LPS Board of Education voted to place a $153 million bond issue on the ballot for a special election on February 11, 2014.  The bond issue includes a new elementary school, a new middle school, a career academy, additions and renovations at exiting facilities, and security and technology improvements throughout the community.

You can find facts and information about the bond issue at: http://www.lps.org/2014bond/

In addition, a series of information sessions are scheduled in January, all from 4-5 p.m.:

  • Monday, Jan. 6: Lincoln East High School, cafeteria, 1000 S. 70th St.
  • Tuesday, Jan. 7: Lincoln North Star High School, media center, 5801 N. 33rd St.
  • Wednesday, Jan. 8, Board Room at LPS District Offices, 5905 O St.
  • Monday, Jan. 13: Lincoln Northeast High School, commons, 2635 N. 63rd St.
  • Tuesday, Jan. 14: Lincoln Southeast High School, commons, 2930 S. 37th St.  (Recommended entry: Park on the east side of the building by the tennis courts and enter the building through the commons entrance, door 18.)
  • Wednesday, Jan. 15: Lincoln Southwest High School, commons, 7001 S. 14th St.
  • Thursday, Jan. 16, Lincoln High School, theater, 2229 J St.

Posted in Just Sharing by on January 6th, 2014

Lincoln Public Schools Hot Topics: December 16

1.  Special bond issue election approved for 2014 For more information: Liz Standish, lstandis@lps.org 

On December 10, 2013, the LPS Board of Education voted to place a $153 million bond issue on the ballot for a special election on February 11, 2014.  The bond issue includes a new elementary school, a new middle school, a career academy, additions and renovations at exiting facilities, and security and technology improvements throughout the community. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Just Sharing by on December 16th, 2013

The training of bus drivers goes beyond driving

Received this tweet, and followed up to find more information:

Here is a response (too long to tweet!) from Bill McCoy, LPS director of transportation:

“Training is ongoing for all of our employees. All drivers, at time of hiring, are required to go through a minimum of 11 classroom hours of training to meet necessary certification to receive a school bus permit. This curriculum was developed by UNK Safety Center and governed by Nebraska Department of Education. In addition other training is provided throughout the school year. Listed below are topics presented prior to the start of this school year:

  • Epilepsy 101
  • Managing Behavioral Expectations of Special Education Students
  • Understanding Autism and the School Bus Environment
  • De-escalation Training
  • Driving a successful Activity Trip – Customer Service and Beyond
  • LPS Threat Assessment Training”

 

Posted in Just Sharing by on December 3rd, 2013

Lincoln Public Schools Hot Topics: December 2

1.  Special bond issue election proposed for 2014 For more information: Liz Standish, lstandis@lps.org 

The Lincoln Board of Education appears likely to call for a special election in February to ask Lincoln voters to approve about $150 million in bonds to pay for a variety of essential facility and infrastructure projects for Lincoln Public Schools. Asking for a special bond issue election early in 2014 – instead of waiting for the May election – could save Lincoln Public Schools an estimated $1 million, mostly due to the ability to take advantage of the 2014 construction season. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Just Sharing by on December 2nd, 2013

Community News – December 2013

This issue contains our College Edition on pages 1-4 and 21-24.

Posted in Community News by on November 26th, 2013

Lincoln Public Schools Hot Topics: November 18

1. LPS graduation rate shows steady increase – For more information: Jane Stavem, jstavem@lps.org.

The high school graduation rate at Lincoln Public Schools showed steady increases for the class of 2013, providing a record high graduation rate for the school district while the dropout rate fell to the lowest in LPS history.

“Increasing the high school graduation rate is the most important instructional strategic goal for our school district – and that makes perfect sense,” said LPS Superintendent Steve Joel.  “As we continue raising our standard of excellence at LPS, increasing numbers of LPS students leave our high schools with a meaningful diploma that serves as the gateway to better employment and a successful college career.”

LPS uses two sets of data for evaluating and assessing the high school graduation rate in the school district – using formulas that are slightly different.  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 87.1 percent of the students who started at LPS as ninth graders in 2008-09 – and did not move away – graduated on time in four years, compared to 84.6 percent the previous year.

The Nebraska State Department of Education uses a slightly different calculation formula and includes students who transfer into high school after ninth grade begins: a formula that gives LPS an 83.7 percent graduation rate, up from 83.3 percent the previous year.  The difference is easy to understand: Students who arrive and transfer into LPS later in their school experience – tend to have a greater number of life challenges and therefore graduate at a dramatically lower rate.

LPS also has noted significant increases in rates for the major ethnic minority groups.  In the past three years the high school graduation rate for:

  • African American students: 67.8 to 81.3 percent.
  • Hispanic American students: 49.6 to 73.7 percent.
  • Native American students: 34.8 to 78.9 percent
  • Asian American students: 85.9 to 84.1 percent
  • White students: 83.7 to 89.5 percent

2. Bubba warms community’s children  – For more information: Vicki Schulenberg, vschule@lps.org.

Before the doors opened at Hartley Elementary School in central Lincoln early on a Saturday morning in November, a line had formed beyond the length of the school—a line of moms and dads, and children.  They were waiting for Bubba’s Closet, an annual goodwill effort coordinated by the elementary principals of Lincoln Public Schools – an offering of free winter clothes.  Special thanks to Hangers for cleaning the donations for free, and to several local Walmart stores for donating a total of $200.

3.  LPS proposes list of top facility priorities For more information: Liz Standish, lstandis@lps.org.

Lincoln Public Schools staff has presented a list of recommended priorities for the school district’s most essential facility and infrastructure needs: a list that includes one new elementary, one new middle school, a high school career academy and a variety of additions and renovations that would add about 1,000 new elementary “seats” and 800-some new middle school “seats” throughout the rapidly gorwing school district. The priorities also include a variety of school projects that would significantly improve and renovate security and technology at schools across Lincoln.

The proposed final list could be funded with a possible bond issue of about $150 million – an amount that would not raise the tax levy rate for Lincoln citizens.

The Lincoln Board of Education will likely finalize the priorities list – as well as consider a possible bond issue – at the Nov. 26 regular meeting of the Board.

4. Prescott celebrates 90 years  – For more information: Ruth Ann Wylie, rwylie@lps.org.

Looking back over nine decades of teaching and learning – students, families, teachers, administrators and staff members from Prescott Elementary celebrated the school’s 90th birthday in November.   “We’re a school that has had a dream and a vision,” said Principal Ruth Ann Wylie, “and we’re here to celebrate 90 years of excellent education here at Prescott.”   Prescott parent John Carlson noted that Prescott has raised more than $200,000 in the last five years and transformed the green space outside the school with grass and prairie, a rain garden, walking paths, benches, gazebo and more.  “We’ve turned gravel to grass.”

The Prescott school building still standing today – near 20th and South streets – was constructed in the early 1920s and within the first year enrolled more than 1,000 students at a time when Lincoln was growing rapidly.

5. Second Learning Lunch set for Tuesday, Dec. 3 – For more information: Mary Kay Roth, mkroth@lps.org.

Come hear about the history of our Lincoln Public Schools buildings and schools in a new series of bring-your-own-lunch presentations, Learning Lunches, open to the community. The second Learning Lunch is scheduled for noon on Tuesday, Dec. 3, in the Board Room at LPS District Offices, 5905 O St. This year’s lunch series is called Built for Learning: An Architectural Historian’s Perspective on LPS History, and features Ed Zimmer, Lincoln’s historic preservation planner and a member of the Lincoln Board of Education.  The programs are videotaped and placed on the LPS website video center, as well as aired on the public educational access channel.

 

Posted in Just Sharing by on November 18th, 2013

Control of schools social media accounts

From time to time we get questions on who can maintain the official school Facebook page. The answer is simple: school staff.

Our guidelines state LPS-maintained communication channels can only be updated by LPS or school staff. Our staff has already agreed to professional standards and computer-use policies that protect them and / or LPS should an issue arise.

At times, a communication method such as Facebook may be used for critical information (for example, school closings, and which students can be photographed and which can not, and for what purposes). Items such as these must be controlled and maintained by staff for the safety of students and staff and clarity in all messages.

This does not prevent school support groups from starting their own social media account. Parent-Teacher Organizations and booster clubs, for example, can post information that schools can not, primarily information related to a for-profit organization or for an activity not directly affiliated with the school.

We encourage PTOs to spread their messages how they see fit, and we appreciate their efforts greatly. Not all parents are in the PTO, and not all parents use Facebook, so a school Facebook page might catch more parents and family members. Our school staffs will use Facebook as an extension of its communications efforts (website, newsletter, notes home, texts, phone calls, etc.)

Questions? Contact Zachary Baehr at 402-436-1619 or email zbaehr@lps.org.

Posted in Rumor Control by on November 11th, 2013

Lincoln Public Schools Hot Topics: November 4

1.  Various Lincoln Public Schools surveys indicate students, parents have hope, trust in schools district  – For more information: Jane Stavem, jstavem@lps.org.

Results of several surveys were presented at the Oct. 24 Lincoln Board of Education meeting:

  • The Gallup Student Poll is an online survey that measures hope, engagement and well-being. In 2012, 8,563 LPS students in grades 5-12 took the survey. Results: Nearly 6 in 10 LPS students qualified as hopeful, over 6 in 10 qualified as engaged with school, and 7 in 10 have a thriving well-being – all higher than national averages. “We know that hope and engagement are critical factors for our students, helping them attend to their academics,” said Jane Stavem, associate superintendent for Instruction at LPS.
  • This year 1,213 parents participated in annual perception surveys from 34 schools: 24 elementary schools, seven middle schools and three high schools.  Results: When asked what grade parents would give their student’s school, 90 percent of parents gave the school an A or B (compared to 71 percent across the country). When asked what grade they would give the overall school district, 83 percent gave LPS an A or B  (compared to 53 percent across the country).

2. First Learning Lunches at Lincoln Public Schools District Office – For more information: Mary Kay Roth, mkroth@lps.org.

Come hear about the history of our Lincoln Public Schools buildings and schools in a new series of bring-your-own-lunch presentations, Learning Lunches, open to the community and beginning with a program at noon on Tuesday, Nov. 5, in the Board Room at LPS District Offices, 5905 O St. This year’s lunch series is called Built for Learning: An Architectural Historian’s Perspective on LPS History, and will feature Ed Zimmer, Lincoln’s historic preservation planner and a member of the Lincoln Board of Education.   The first three lunches are all set for noon at LPSDO – Nov. 5, Dec. 3 and Jan. 7 – with more lunches to be scheduled into the spring.. The programs will be videotaped and placed on the LPS website video center, as well as aired on the public educational access channel.

3.  School calendar proposed for 2015-16 – For more information: John Neal, jpneal@lps.org

Lincoln Public Schools now approves school calendars two years in advance, and LPS is now studying a proposed school calendar for 2015-16.  The calendar will be approved at the Nov. 12 Board meeting. The proposed 2015-16 calendar is structured much like this year and next – which are already approved – that schedules the winter and semester breaks together. The start date for the proposed 2015-16 calendar would be Monday, August 10, 2015, semester break would be Dec. 21-Jan. 4, and the end date would be May 19, 2016.

The most important priority for developing the school calendar is: sound instructional considerations and priorities ensuring the continuity, efficiency and effectiveness of teaching and learning.  For more information or to offer feedback: http://www.lps.org/about/calendar/proposal/

4. Bubba is back, annual winter clothing giveaway – For more information: Mary Kay Roth, mkroth@lps.org.

Bubba’s Closet, a goodwill effort by the elementary principals of Lincoln Public Schools, is scheduled for 8:30-9:30 a.m. Saturday Nov. 16, at Hartley Elementary School, 730 N. 33rd St. The event offers free winter clothing for elementary-aged children – to any elementary student accompanied by an adult. There are no income requirements.  Sacks will be provided by Lincoln Public Schools.

5.  Work continues on 10-year building/infrastructure priorities –For more information: Liz Standish, lstandis@lps.org.

The Lincoln Board of Education is meeting in a series of work sessions this fall to ultimately identify the top priorities and potential funding sources for the major facility and infrastructure needs in the school district. At the most recent meeting, a proposed list was presented that included top facility priorities for upcoming projects that could be included in a potential bond issue.  The list included one and possibly two new elementary schools, and one new middle school. The School Board will eventually vote on a final list of prioritized projects. Other projects on the list included:

  • High School Career Academy – and high school renovations to accommodate adjustments due to career academy
  • Indoor Air Quality projects,  additions, renovations and secured entrances at elementary schools and middle schools
  • Seacrest Field master plan improvements
  • A new building at the Zoo School/Science Focus Program

The School Board is also evaluating priority projects that cover Security, Technology and Infrastructure needs, a list that includes secured entrances at all schools, card access additions, security cameras, advanced phone systems – changes that create classroom-ready technology in all the schools, wireless network in all the schools – adding bleachers to some high schools, new window and roofs at some schools.

Posted in Just Sharing by on November 4th, 2013

Community News – November 2013

Posted in Community News by on October 25th, 2013

Lincoln Public Schools Hot Topics: October 15

1.  Board of Education examines, discusses priorities for school district facilities – For more information: Liz Standish, lstandis@lps.org 

The Lincoln Board of Education is meeting in a series of work sessions in October to ultimately identify the top priorities and potential funding sources for the major facility and infrastructure needs in the school district. At the most recent meeting, highlighted information included:

  • Funding and financing sources:  Currently Lincoln Public Schools could ask the public for just over $150 million in bonds without raising the tax levy rate. In addition, other funding streams also align with building and infrastructure needs and tally more than $10 million additional dollars. That means – with a successful bond issue – total funding and financing sources supporting the facility and infrastructure plan could add up to about $160.7 million.
  • Projected enrollment trends:  Enrollment projections for LPS currently predict an 8 percent increase in student enrollment over the next five years with a total increase of almost 3,000 additional students.
  • Current building capacity:  Currently more than half of LPS schools are at 95 percent capacity or above; for K-12 in the school district, LPS is at 100.3 percent capacity – and for Prek-12, LPS is at 101.8 percent capacity; 21 schools are at 100 percent capacity or more; five of the six high schools are at 100 percent capacity or more; elementary schools are at 96.6 percent capacity, middle schools at 94.3 percent and high schools at 113.9 percent

2. LPS/SCC announce main career pathways for new high school career center – For more information: John Neal, jpneal@lps.org

The six major career concentration pathways that will be highlighted in the new Lincoln Public Schools/Southeast Community College Career Center –officially named the Capital Career Center – were announced recently as:

  • Agriculture/Food and Natural Resources
  • Business, Marketing and Management
  • Communication and Information Systems
  • Health Services
  • Skilled and Technical Sciences
  • Human Sciences

What’s next? Small groups of LPS and SCC teachers will meet to identify course sequences and goals for the career pathways – as well as to develop any new curriculum or adjust existing curriculum.  Meanwhile, LPS and SCC will work with business and industry partners to ensure authentic career experiences are available for students.

The Lincoln Board of Education has approved commitment to the Career Academy – likely to open in the fall of 2015 – a high school facility that will offer blocks of career-related classes that match the specific employment and job needs of the community.  For the video and Power Point presentation from the Oct. 9 meeting, go to: http://lps.org/stream

3.  Lights On – For more information: Lea Ann Johnson, ljohns@2lps.org 

A group of elementary and middle school students – Youth Ambassadors from Community Learning Centers across the city – are encouraging the public to attend the Lights on Afterschool Rally scheduled for 6 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 17 on the west steps of the State Capitol.  The event underlines the value of after-school programs such as Community Learning Centers, which CLC teachers and students called “a wise investment in our children’s future.”   Students pointed out that afterschool programs close achievement gaps, build confidence, teach leadership skills and help you become a better person.

4.  LPS testifies at State Education Committee hearing – For more information: John Neal, jpneal@lps.org

State senators on the State Legislature’s Education Committee are studying the current process and formula for state aid for schools – and holding a series of public hearings across the state. They are studying current financing of public education in Nebraska and possible alternatives, and asked for comments and input from Nebraska school districts specific to some broad concepts:

  • Reduce reliance on property taxes through local option income and/or sales taxes
  • Establish an education trust fund
  • Distribute apportionment based on public school membership
  • Base school spending limitations on economic measures
  • Provide a minimum level of state funding for each district
  • Use inflation adjusted statewide historical spending as a starting point for needs
  • Base most of the need calculation on a single per student need figure
  • Provide a need component that is equal for every district to represent fixed costs
  • Provide additional need for unavoidable costs (special education, transportation,
  • poverty, LEP)
  • Use lottery funds for legislative priorities and district initiatives
  • Continue providing state funds for student increases due to the option program

LPS testified at a recent hearing. For text of that testimony go to: http://www.lps.org/post/detail.cfm?id=7792

5. Sherrill dedication – For more information: Mary Kay Roth, director of Communications, mkroth@lps.org

The new Donald D. Sherrill Educational Center – 340 N. 56 St. – was officially dedicated early this month at a community Open House on a Sunday afternoon, an event that featured administrators, teachers and students.

“These kinds of milestones remind us – once again – that Lincoln Public Schools is dedicated to ensuring we provide fine facilities for all our children,” said LPS Superintendent Steve Joel. “It is a strong statement about the values of a school district that we design and build excellent schools for students with a wide variety of gifts and needs, and that the quality environments we create help ensure a lasting legacy of opportunity for future generations.”

The event also honored the memory of Don Sherrill and the enthusiasm of all the Sherrill family members attending the dedication Sunday. Katie McLeese Stephenson, a member of the Lincoln Board of Education:  “Don Sherrill believed in individual educational programs long before they were named and placed in federal law. He believed that children with special needs should have access to all school programs and to the services they need to be successful. He believed that parents were partners in the education of their children. And he believed that teachers made miracles happen every day.”

 

Posted in Just Sharing by on October 15th, 2013

Lincoln Public Schools Hot Topics: Oct. 1

1. Student enrollment at LPS soars with 943 more studentsFor more information: Jane Stavem, jstavem@lps.org  

Official enrollment for Lincoln Public Schools soared to 37,845 students for the 2013-14 school year with 943 more learners than last year: growth that equals the equivalent of adding the number of students who attend two average-sized elementary schools.   That boost represents a 2.5 percent increase in students over last year – students from pre-kindergarten through high school – and a whopping increase of more than 11 percent in the last five years.

This year’s largest LPS elementary schools are Roper Elementary with 864 students (where an entire annex was constructed recently) and Adams Elementary with 757 students.  The largest LPS middle schools are Lux Middle School with 1,024 students and Scott Middle School with 956.   The largest high school enrollments are at Lincoln Southeast High School where 2,011 students go to school, and Lincoln North Star with 1,977 students.

The poverty rate for LPS also increased this year reaching a record 44.5 percent of all students – compared to 42.5 percent last year – a statistic measured by the number of students on free and reduced lunch. The poverty rate for only LPS elementary students is more than 47 percent.

2.  Board of Education examines, discusses priorities for school district facilitiesFor more information: Liz Standish, lstandis@lp.org 

Lincoln Public Schools could float a bond issue for $151 million – and use $10 million more from other funding sources – to address the highest priorities in its latest 10-year Facilities and Infrastructure Plan, according to Liz Standish, associate superintendent for Business Affairs at LPS.

The Lincoln Board of Education will examine and discuss priorities and potential funding sources for that 10-year plan in a series of work sessions set for October.   The meetings will be held at Lincoln Public Schools District Office, 5905 O St.

  • 4:15 p.m. on Oct. 8
  • 4:30 p.m. on Oct. 21
  • 4:15 p.m. on Oct. 22
  • 4:30 p.m. on Oct. 29

3. Sherrill dedication set for Oct. 6 – For more information: Mary Kay Roth, director of Communications, mkroth@lps.org

The official Dedication and Open House for the new Donald D. Sherrill Educational Center – 340 N. 56 St. – is set for 2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 6.  The facility houses the program for elementary and middle school students with behavioral disabilities.

4.  MOSAIC book display at LPSDO in October – For more information: Mary Reiman, mreiman@lps.org

MOSAIC – the annual display of multicultural literature in Lincoln Public Schools – will be on display Oct. 2-10 in the staff library on the second floor of LPS District Office, 5905 O St. The display is open from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. After Oct. 10, the display will be traveling to various schools in the community.  MOSAIC has grown from 100 books in 1991 to more than 500 books.

5. LPS updates allergy policy to continuing protection for studentsFor more information: Marge Theel, mtheel@lps.org

The Lincoln Board of Education has approved a change in guidelines governing food allergies that creates one consistent policy across all buildings in the school district.

6.  Update on Early Childhood Education – For more information: Deila Steiner, dsteiner@lps.org

The early childhood programs at Lincoln Public Schools now serve 851 students ages three and four, about 750 students in the home (ages three through five), and 84 infants and toddlers – but there are also more than 700 students on the waiting list for early childhood services. Currently 28 of the 38 elementary schools have early childhood classrooms, and infant and toddler locations are located at four high school sites.

7.  LPS students achieve continuous improvement in annual ‘State of the Schools’For more information contact Jane Stavem, jstavem@lps.org  

The Nebraska Department of Education late in September released its annual State of the Schools Report – a report that highlights continuous improvement at Lincoln Public Schools.

Jane Stavem, associate superintendent for Instruction at LPS, stressed LPS strives to make sure that students, schools and the school district are generally trending in the right direction and showing continuous improvement – and that is exactly what is happening. “Continuous improvement means that we establish a plan and a way to measure both implementation of the plan – what the educators do – and the results, which is student learning.

The State of the Schools Report publishes information – almost an almost overwhelming amount of numbers, rankings, labels and statistics – for all school districts across Nebraska. The Report includes achievement from the Nebraska State Accountability (NeSA) tests (released earlier this school year), federal assessments, school district rankings and more.

Highlights:

  • School district rankings in the state – under the Nebraska Performance Accountability System (NePAS) – which indicate again that LPS is showing continuous improvement.
  • Assessment mandated by No Child Left Behind, which requires that states report performance for each school district, school and student subgroup (all racial and ethnic groups, special education students, those living in poverty and English Language Learners). For a school to meet the targets, each of those subgroups must meet the federal targets. When schools fail to meet the benchmarks for two years, they are labeled by “school improvement” and must take steps that include offering services to families and possible restructuring.  Two Lincoln elementary schools began the restructuring process this year, among 286 – 30 percent – of Nebraska schools that have failed to meet the federal targets for at least two years.

Posted in Just Sharing by on October 1st, 2013