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

Lincoln Public Schools Hot Topics: June 2

1. Summer School 2014 – For more information: Mary Kay Roth, mkroth@lps.org

Classes are in session for Lincoln Public Schools Summer School courses at Lincoln North Star High School, open to students who were in grades 9-12 during the past school year.  LPS is far from quiet in the summertime.  In addition to the high school summer school, there are many more opportunities for LPS students over the summer months including:  Early Childhood, Elementary and Middle School Special Education Summer Services, a variety of summer music camps, and the LPS Summer Technology Program provided for students entering grades 5 through 9 in the fall of 2014.

2. Board to talk budget in June work session – For more information: Liz Standish, lstandis@lps.org

The Lincoln Board of Education will hold its first work session on the 2014-15 proposed budget – at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 10 at LPS District Office, 5905 O St. The coming year’s budget addresses many factors including major growth in student enrollment, providing continued quality education and ensuring excellence in the work force with appropriate compensation.

Major LPS budget calendar dates:

  • Lincoln Board of Education work sessions at LPS District Office:
    • June 10, 4:30 p.m.
    • July 7, 5:30 p.m.
  • LPS budget forums:
    • June 24, 5 p.m., LPS District Office
    • June 26, 7, p.m., Lefler Middle School
  • Public hearing and first reading: August 12
  • Assessed valuation: August 20
  • Budget approval: August 26

3. Three, two one: Community launch of The Career Academy – For more information: John Neal, jpneal@lps.org

On June 5, the Foundation will hold a community launch of The Career Academy with an overview of partnerships, an update of progress and working toward who is interested in moving the work forward.

The Lincoln Board of Education has also affirmed selection of Lanny Boswell as the new member of the Joint LPS/Southeast Community College Board to develop The Career Academy. Board member Richard Meginnis was the former member, but resigned when he was recently elected president of the Board.

Wendy Van, the new director of the Foundation for LPS, offered an update on fundraising for The Career Academy at a recent Lincoln Board of Education meeting. Van said the Foundation is “working carefully to build a system of support.” She said many corporate partners are already reaching out, “and it is critical we can figure out ways to engage them.”

4. Additional LPS contracts same amount as LPS educators – For more information: Eric Weber, eweber@lps.org

Annually, the Board of Education reviews the contracts of the Associate Superintendent for Instruction, the Associate Superintendent for Business Affairs, the Associate Superintendent for Human Resources, and the Assistant to the Superintendent for General Administration and Governmental Relations. It was recommended at the most recent Board of Education meeting that the proposed 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. It was also recommended that an overall total package increase of 3.95 percent be approved for this group for 2014-15 – the same amount as included in the negotiated contract for LPS educators.

The Board also recommended a 3.95 percent total package increase for LPS Administrators, Custodial Employees Association, Maintenance Employees Association, Nutrition Services Workers Association, Office Professionals Association and Technicians

5. Board of Education elects new officers – For more information: Mary Kay Roth, mkroth@lps.org.

The Lincoln Board of Education elected Board member Richard Meginnis as the next Board president, and Kathy Danek as vice president.

Board member Lanny Boswell was elected as the new president of Educational Service Unit (ESU) No. 18, and Barb Baier, as vice president.

6. Recent honors – For more information: Mary Kay Roth, mkroth@lps.org.

Beth Brady and Susan Stibal recently received the Community Horizon Award from the Lincoln Community Health Endowment for their work on the Hear to Learn project. Hear to Learn helps teachers and schools put sound amplification equipment in classrooms enabling more children to hear their teacher more often.

Meanwhile, this past month, the Foundation for Lincoln Public Schools honored 15 LPS teachers, administrators, and staff as Gold Star Educator Award Winners.

  • Justin Holbein, Lincoln High School- Marian Battey Andersen & Charles Wheaton Battey Outstanding Teacher Award
  • Sue Braun, Kloefkorn Elementary School – Marie Bourke Leadership Award
  • Betsy McEntarffer, LPSDO Media Dept – Leola Bullock Multicultural Education Award
  • Vann Price, Lincoln North Star High School – Leola Bullock Multicultural Education Award
  • Jay Lockard, Scott Middle School – Florence J. Clark Award for Excellence in Middle School Teaching
  • Stephanie Seuferer, Schoo Middle School – Florence J. Clark Award for Excellence in Middle School Teaching
  • Bailey Feit, Lincoln North Star High School – Myrtle Clark Outstanding Mathematics Educator Award
  • Laura Maddox , Special Education Coordinator – Ruth Eickman Outstanding Early Childhood Educator Award
  • Lisa Oltman, LPSDO Curriculum Dept – R.L. Fredstrom Leadership Award
  • Sharon Baker, Kloefkorn Elem./Lefler Middle – Helen Krieger Outstanding Healthcare Provider Award
  • Kelsey Dady, Lux Middle School – Nancy Muehlhausen Counseling Award
  • Nathan Armagost, Pyrtle Elementary – John Prasch Health and Physical Fitness Award
  • Sherry West, Lincoln Southeast High School – Mike Troester Outstanding Educator Award
  • Shelly Tvrdy, Lincoln Southwest High School – Union Bank & Trust Award For Excellence in Financial Literacy Education
  • Nichile Hanseling, Lincoln Southwest High School – Union Bank & Trust Award For Excellence in Financial Literacy Education
  • Also recognized was the Gold Star School Award, with this year’s winner being Lincoln Northeast High School.

Posted in Just Sharing by on June 3rd, 2014

Lincoln Public Schools Hot Topics: May 12

1. Close of 2013-14 school year/ Graduating class of 2014 – For more information: Mary Kay Roth, mkroth@lps.org

The last day of school at Lincoln Public Schools for students is Thursday, May 22.  The first day of classes for the 2014-15 school year is Tuesday, August 12.

Graduation ceremonies for the six LPS high schools are all scheduled on 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

2. Successful bond sales – For more information: Liz Standish, lstandis@lps.org

LPS was very successful issuing the first $120 million in bonds (from the $153 million bond issue).  They hit the market in April at the right time, getting an average interest rate of 3.58 percent (considerably lower than the previously estimated 4.2 percent).  This lower rate allowed the district to save $20.9 million in interest costs over the term of these bonds.

3. High school career academy progress – For more information: John Neal, jpneal@lps.org

LPS and Southeast Community College officials are moving ahead on progress toward the new high school career academy.

  • A groundbreaking ceremony for the new career academy was held on Friday, May 2. To see a video for the ceremony go to: http://www.lps.org/video/center.html?title=Video&id=1447
  • LPS and SCC representatives interviewed four finalists on Friday, May 9, as the potential new administrator for the career academy.
  • The $22 million project (split between LPS and Southeast Community College) has been under construction for about one month on the SCC Lincoln campus at 88th and O streets.
  • The project is already on schedule and under budget.
  • The facility will open in the fall of 2015.
  • About one-third of the bids have been awarded.

4. Budget development for 2014-15 well underway – For more information: Liz Standish, lstandis@lps.org

LPS is already well into planning for the 2014-15 budget – a budget that addresses many factors including major growth in student enrollment, providing continued quality education, and ensuring excellence in the work force with appropriate compensation. LPS has two major revenue streams, and preliminary information for next year is beginning to take shape, according to Liz Standish, associate superintendent for Business Affairs for LPS.

  • Assessed valuation: Last year, property valuation in the school district increased by 2.68 percent, however this year – after some initial returns – LPS is estimating a 1.5 percent increase.
  • State Aid: LPS will receive about $110.8 million in state aid to education next school year, compared to about $97.3 million received in the current school year. That amount is based on student growth, increases in poverty and English Language Learner populations, as well as other factors.

Major LPS budget calendar dates:

  • Lincoln Board of Education work sessions at LPS District Office:
    • June 10, 4:30 p.m.
    • July 8, 6 p.m.
  • LPS budget forums:
    • June 24, 5 p.m., LPS District Office
    • June 26, 7, p.m., Lefler Middle School
  • Public hearing and first reading: August 12
  • Assessed valuation: August 20
  • Budget approval: August 26

5. Super Commons members agree on value of CLCs  – For more information: Lea Ann Johnson, ljohns@@lps.org

In May, the Super Commons met at LPS District Office to discuss a variety of topics, including the value of the 25 Community Learning Centers operating at LPS schools.  “I want to underscore how important CLCs are for the overall success of our community,” LPS Superintendent Steve Joel said. “CLCs are a great gift, a before and after school environment that supports academic and social supports, particularly for students in poverty. They are a difference maker… CLCs help our community build better people.”

However, he cautioned, LPS is running into a dollar crunch for this program. “We could easily expand to another half a dozen schools, based on needs, but resources don’t allow us to do that. We have committed additional funds to the program this year, but this is not a sustainable model. We are running out of money for this program.”

  • Both Joel and Lincoln Mayor Chris Beutler said the city and LPS continue to explore ways to find permanent sustainability for the program.
  • Carl Eskridge, chair of the Lincoln City Council, said he was a fan of CLCs and “what they do for our neighborhoods. They empower students, engage parents and provide community stability. They are really impressive.”
  • Larry Hudkins, chair of the Lancaster County Board, continued: “CLCs serve a wonderful function in our community.”
  • Kathy Danek, from the Lincoln Board of Education, said she sees CLCs as a community issue – not just an LPS issue. “This is a great program, and I would move heaven and earth to keep it.”

The Super Commons includes the Lincoln Board of Education, the Lincoln City Council and the Lancaster County Board.

Posted in Just Sharing by on May 12th, 2014

Results of the LPS Trivia

LPS trivia is part history, part current events and part geography. Don’t worry, they are open book tests, if you want, and they won’t affect your overall grade. Below we provide an analysis of the first set of questions. Part 2 is ready for your answers.

1. As a group, we did a pretty good job at correctly identifying the four schools located on 13th or 14th street. But only 57 percent got all four correct on their own.

2. West Lincoln Elementary School is located on Dawes Avenue, and 68 percent avoided the trick question. Some may have thought it was a double-trick question, as 19 percent guessed Dawes Middle School.

3. A lot of guesses (175) for Irving Middle School, but there were no vice presidents with the name Irving. Dawes is the correct answer on this one, and 45 percent answered correctly.

You might have thought Clinton Elementary School should have been a choice because (as I’m sure everyone knows) George Clinton was vice president for Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. But Clinton Elementary was named after Clinton Street, where the original school was built. And that street was named after George’s nephew DeWitt Clinton.

Posted in Facts and Figures by on May 7th, 2014

Lincoln Public Schools Hot Topics: April 28

1. Two new principals announced for LPS – For more information contact Eric Weber, eweber@lps.org

Lincoln Public Schools has announced that Kristi Schirmer will be the new principal at Zeman Elementary School, following current Principal Donna Williams who will retire at the close of the school year. Schirmer is now assistant principal at Kloefkorn, and has also served as coordinator at Rousseau Elementary School and taught at Rousseau and Belmont Elementary School.

In addition, Duane Dohmen will be the new principal at Lux Middle School, following Bill Bucher who is also retiring at the close of this school year.  Dohmen is now the K-12 principal of Dorchester Public Schools and has worked with Norris High School, Waverly High School and Creighton Community Schools. He earned his Master’s Degree in Educational Administration from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

2. CLC hosting Art Walk at Old City Hall – For more information contact Mary Kay Roth, mkroth@lps.org

The Lincoln Community Learning Centers will hold the 2014 Art Walk from 6 to 8 p.m. on Friday, May 2 at the Historic City Hall, 902 O St. Visitors can see paintings, drawings and sculptures created by students.

3. Transportation Plan presentedFor more information contact Bill McCoy, bmccoy@lps.org

Each spring an updated transportation plan is prepared for Lincoln Public Schools, and this year LPS transportation officials are recommending one reduction. The proposed plan would eliminate transportation of 26 Goodrich Middle School English Language Learner students to Schoo Middle School, because those students will now receive ELL services at their home school of Goodrich. The reduction would save $20,531 – and will likely be applied to the ELL program. The Board will take a final vote on the proposal at the May 13 Board

4. Board assigns annexed land For more information contact Mary Kay Roth, mkroth@lps.org

The city of Lincoln has annexed three parcels of land, automatically bringing these properties into the LPS district, and the Board of Education officially assigned attendance areas to these parcels:

  • Grandview Estates Addition, South 70th Street and Countryview Road, Annexation #19877, for 2013-14 school year:  Maxey Elementary School, Pound Middle School, and Southeast High School.
  • Railpark, Northwest 27th and Highway 34, Annexation #19952, for 2013-14 school year 4 school year:  Arnold Elementary School, Schoo Middle School, and North Star High School.
  • Broadmoor Ashbrook Apartments, Highway 2 and Ashbrook Drive, Annexation #20000, for 2013-14 school year:  Maxey Elementary School, Lux Middle School, and East High School.

5. Board recognizes honors For more information contact Mary Kay Roth, mkroth@lps.org

The Board of Education presented a special resolution to Schoo Middle School and Lincoln East High School, both honored by the American School Counselor Association (ASCA) with the RAMP designation – Recognized ASCA Model Programs – which means the schools have demonstrated a comprehensive, data-driven approach to school counseling.

The Board also officially congratulated LPS schools for participation in the recent BackPack Walk – raising funds for the BackPack program through the Food Bank of Lincoln. The Board specifically recognized the top fund-raising schools: Maxey Elementary School, elementary category; Lux Middle School, middle schools category; and Lincoln East High School, high school category.

6. Lessons from social media For more information contact Mary Kay Roth, mkroth@lps.org

Over the past few weeks, Lincoln Public Schools has dealt with a national social media frenzy over an incident that happened at Zeman Elementary School when the wrong anti-bullying brochure was sent home to 75 fifth graders. After an initial complaint from one parent, the school apologized for the error and had school counselors and educators talk to the fifth graders to promptly clarify the correct practices. Parents responded positively, as did the entire community of Lincoln. Meanwhile, the story went viral with social media messages from around the country. LPS continues to evaluate lessons learned from this incident – stressing quick and accurate responses to social media turmoil, focused directly at our community audience.

7. Career academy groundbreaking For more information contact Mary Kay Roth, mkroth@lps.org

The community is invited to groundbreaking ceremonies for the new Career Academy, a collaboration of Lincoln Public Schools and Southeast Community College. The ceremony will happen at 11 a.m. on Friday, May 2, on the SCC Lincoln campus at 88th and O streets.

Posted in Just Sharing by on April 25th, 2014

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