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Lincoln Public Schools Hot Topics: June 20, 2016

Posted in Just Sharing by on June 21st, 2016

  1. Preliminary 2016-17 budget unveiled – For more information: Liz Standish, lstandis@lps.org

The Lincoln Board of Education has started working through the process of considering and finalizing the 2016-17 preliminary budget for Lincoln Public Schools. The Board will gather feedback and input from the community over the next months, further discuss the budget and plan to approve the final LPS budget in August.

The budget addresses a variety of factors:

  • Providing appropriate staffing, services, supplies and resources to address significant growth in LPS student enrollment. LPS estimates an increase of 950 more students for 2016-17 – following a growth of 7,500 students in the past ten years – growth that means LPS will teach almost 41,000 students in the coming school year.
  • Addressing the growing complexity of the demographics and needs of LPS students.
  • Serving our students in a changing landscape of providing the highest quality education, for instance, planning for specific increases in areas such as regular education, technology and special education.

 Highlights of the preliminary budget include:

  • Taking into consideration Lincoln’s taxpayers and the current economics of the community, the school district estimates a very slight decrease in the total LPS tax levy. That means the estimated property tax rate will remain almost flat – moving half a cent levy from the General Fund to the Building Fund. (Building Fund money can be used for site acquisition and improvements, purchasing existing facilities, and modification and updating of existing facilities.) The 2016-17 budget predicts a revenue of about $397 million and, in addition, LPS will use $5.4 million from cash flow.
  • The budget continues to focus on providing continued quality education – recognizing that 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.
  • The preliminary budget would provide help to classrooms with added: teachers and staffing for regular education, special education, early childhood, English Language Learners (refugees and immigrants); counselors and school social workers, healthcare workers and high school security; staffing for middle school math and reading intervention; staff for intervention assistance for after-school hours.
  • Resources would be allocated for opening the new Sally G. Wysong Elementary School and the Bill Nuernberger Education Center, and early start-up costs for Marilyn Moore Middle School (opens fall of 2017); as well as for continuation of phasing in the LPS instructional technology plan.

 2. LPS to host community budget forums – For more information: Liz Standish, lstandis@lps.org

LPS invites the public into the discussion about the preliminary 2016-17 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 28, 5 p.m., Board Room, LPS District Office, 5905 O St.
  • Thursday, June 30, 7 p.m., Media Center, Goodrich Middle School, 4600 Lewis Ave.

3. Career Academy Update – For more information: Dan Hohensee, dhohen@lps.org

The LPS Career Academy boasted 125 seniors graduating from TCA in the first year. There will be 112 students returning in the fall, and close to 315 new students already registered. TCA currently has 130 business partners and more than 200 individuals that are involved as mentors or serving on the advisory committee for internships and curriculum development.

4. Podcast features LPS transportation – For more information: Zachary Baehr, zbaehr@lps.org

The latest LPS podcast features a conversation with Bill McCoy, director of LPS Transportation, talking about: 11 million miles, 130 drivers, 92 para educators, 80-day inspections, new routes, relocated schools, field trips, ball games, activities, and one local and national issue: a shortage of bus drivers. So find a seat and keep your hands inside the window. Go to the LPS website at: http://home.lps.org/podcast/

5. Comments, questions about proposed boundary change – For more information: Liz Standish, lstandis@lps.org

LPS is proposing that the attendance area for Clinton Elementary School be moved from the Lincoln North Star High School to the Lincoln Northeast High School attendance area. If community members have comments or questions about the proposed change, please go to the Online Open House: http://www.lps.org/news/attendanceareas-2016/

 

Why schools should be prudent in sending all-parent phone calls

Posted in Tips & Strategies by on June 9th, 2016

Schools should seriously review how often they choose to send an all-parents phone call home through School Messenger.

The only time a phone call should be made to all parents … when the school needs the parent to act immediately. This means only call when:

  • There is a change in the next drop-off or pickup routine or time (severe weather, unsafe activity near the school like a robbery or shooting)
  • School has been cancelled and they need to come pick up their child (would mean the building has been severely damaged in some way)

That’s it. If you boil it down to the true purpose of phone calls, a school will rarely call home during a school year (and that’s a great thing!).

Schools should stop the habit of sending an all-parents phone call for announcements, reminders and other non-emergent information.

A story …

Earlier this year, a parent complained about the amount of phone calls he had received. My first thought: he was exaggerating. But no; we were way beyond our boundaries. He had received seven phone calls in a matter of six school days from two different schools. We can all agree that is way too much. The calls were about:

  • NeSA writing test reminder
  • Parent-teacher conference schedule
  • Principal survey
  • Snow day #1
  • Snow day #2
  • PTO meeting
  • Parent advisory meeting

We apologized, notified the schools, but the practice continues in some of our schools. Looking over the list above, we can see only two of those should have been phone calls (snow days). We need to review our processes, focus on emails with information or links to our websites, and respect our parents’ time.

There are times when it is absolutely critical that we reach parents (see above reasons). If we call weekly or even more frequently, we desensitize them to the phone calls where urgent action is required. They may not answer the phone or check the voicemail, though we desperately need a parent to know that a son or daughter will not be walking home at the normal time (for example).

Some schools make an argument that parents don’t read or check emails, or have consistent access to internet. That is a different issue, and it is important that we not create another problem (desensitization or phone-call overload) in an attempt to fix it.

So we ask schools to review who is sending phone calls home to all parents, and determine how best to move forward.

Lincoln Public Schools Hot Topics: June 6, 2016

Posted in Just Sharing by on June 5th, 2016

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

The Lincoln Board of Education periodically reviews attendance areas to make sure Lincoln Public Schools is best utilizing school district facilities, and often to determine if it is prudent to make adjustments that would provide relief to schools that are serving at or over capacity.

LPS is proposing that the attendance area for Clinton Elementary School be moved from the Lincoln North Star High School to the Lincoln Northeast High School attendance area. The change would become effective for the 2017-18 school year. Currently North Star student enrollment totals almost 2,200 students, and is expected to continue increasing in coming years.

The Board is hosting an open house to present detailed information about this proposed change: 6-7 p.m. Tuesday, June 7 at Culler Middle School, 5201 Vine St. Community members can also go to an LPS online webpage – live June 7 and available through June 28 – offering a place to share comments, or ask questions. Go to: http://lps.org/go/boundaries16 or access the webpage by going to the top of the LPS home page (www.lps) – and use “Boundaries 16” as the keyword.

The Board will consider this proposed attendance area change June 15, and will vote on the issue June 28. Please note LPS would continue the practice of allowing ninth graders to attend the high school of their choice, provided they fill out the necessary paperwork by the mandatory deadline.

2. LPS to host community budget forums – For more information: Liz Standish, lstandis@lps.org

Lincoln Public Schools invites the public into the discussion about the preliminary 2016-17 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 28, 5 p.m., Board Room, LPS District Office, 5905 O St.
  • Thursday, June 30, 7 p.m., Media Center, Goodrich Middle School, 4600 Lewis Ave.

3. Evaluation contract for superintendent – For more information: Eric Weber, eweber@lps.org

LPS Superintendent Steve Joel received high marks from the Lincoln Board of Education in his annual evaluation and contract presented and proposed recently.

Highlights of the evaluation:

“Board members were pleased with Dr. Joel’s work as a strong leader and public face for the district. Observations included that we have received ‘good comments from the public’ regarding Dr. Joel’s positive image, and acknowledged that he is ‘well respected across the community and has many leadership opportunities within a variety of groups.’ Board members also spoke to Dr. Joel’s ability to build strong relationships with the Board and with his staff…Dr. Joel ‘fosters a team spirit’ and embraces the team philosophy of Board and staff working together as a cohesive unit. This strength helps the district to establish goals, prioritize them, and help them come to fruition…Of particular note is Dr. Joel’s belief in providing ‘an education that allows every child to be successful’ and his embodiment of the idea that “all means all.”

The proposed contract for Joel in the 2016-17 school year calls for a base salary of $313,239, a 1.56 percent increase over the previous year. The Board will take a final vote on the contract June 15.

4. Great story of friendship – For more information: Zachary Baehr, zbaehr@lps.org

Through the kindness of his own heart, Logan Kirk found his way into the heart of senior classmate Kaileb Webber. Logan also discovered a passion, a future career, a friend and a unique ability to communicate with his new friend at Lincoln Northeast High School.

For this sweet story: http://lps.org/post/detail.cfm?id=10998

5. LPS Transportation Plan approved – For more information: Liz Standish, lstandis@lps.org

The Lincoln Board of Education will provide free transportation to students attending the LPS Science Focus Program (Zoo School) and the Arts and Humanities Focus Program – from high school to the focus programs and back – in approving the LPS transportation plan for 2016-17.

Board member Annie Mumgaard: “This is about accessibility…I believe it is our responsibility to make sure all our kids have access to all our programs….and this is making these programs accessible for all students.”

Board President Don Mayhew said: “We like these programs, they speak to our graduation rate, they are very valuable, I think the transportation part is something integral to the programs and I think is overdue…As we are looking for relief in our existing high schools…bus routes are much cheaper than portables….This is part of a well thought-out, deliberate budgeting process…It will be money well spent.”

Lincoln Public Schools Hot Topics: May 16, 2016

Posted in Just Sharing by on May 15th, 2016

  1. Final days, final words – For more information: Zachary Baehr, zbaehr@lps.org

The last day of classes for Lincoln Public Schools is Thursday, May 19.  Watch the LPS website and LPS social media this week for our popular Final Words videos – interviews with those leaving LPS, including high school seniors and retiring LPS employees. We’ll be having a live online chat the last two days of school this year, inviting folks to send us photos and text from the last couple days of schools.  And check out our Q&As with seniors – great stories! Go to: http://home.lps.org/qa/

2. Scottish Rite – For more information: Eric Weber, eweber@lps.org

Susan Prabulos, a computer science teacher at Meadow Lane Elementary School, has won the 2016 Scottish Rite Teacher of the Year honor given annually to a teacher in Lincoln Public Schools. Scottish Rite is one of the most prestigious awards given to an LPS teacher and comes with a cash prize of $3,000. Go to http://lps.org/post/detail.cfm?id=10963

3. Saving lives – For more information: Jane Stavem, jstavem@lps.org

LPS would add automated external defibrillators (AED) to 20 additional elementary schools if they move forward with submission of a Phase I proposal to the Community Health Endowment for up to $32,500 for the one-time purchase of AED equipment. The Lincoln Board of Education will vote final approval for submission at their May 24 meeting.

Several years ago, LPS worked with the Lancaster County Medical Society and Community Health Endowment to purchase AEDs for all secondary schools. LPS and the Foundation for LPS are working to secure funding to purchase AEDs for the remaining elementary schools and the new Marilyn Moore Middle School. According to Student Services, 596 students within LPS have a known cardiac condition.

4. Woods Park Tennis – For more information: Liz Standish, lstandis@lps.org

The Board of Education in May voted a resolution of intent to pre-pay $10,000 per year to the city – for a maximum of 10 years – for use of the Woods Tennis Center to assist with financing of a current renovation project for the Woods tennis facility. The Center is intending to undergo a renovation project to replace the indoor air structures along with other site improvements. LPS has been asked to contribute as a result of its use of the facilities. The Center is an important part of LPS programming and is used by many LPS schools and students for tennis practices, events, tournaments and related activities.

5. Hannah Huston Day Monday – For more information: Mindy Burbach, mburbach@lps.org

LPS celebrates Monday, May 16, as “Hannah Huston and LPS: A ‘Voice’ for All!” Hannah Huston is the Arnold Elementary School early childhood teacher who is among the finalists on this season of “The Voice.” Monday evening she will be among eight remaining contestants competing for a spot on the grand finale show. Gov. Pete Ricketts on Friday signed a proclamation designating Monday as Hannah Huston Day in Nebraska.

6. Graduation

The Lincoln Public Schools class of 2016 will celebrate graduation ceremonies on Sunday, May 22 – for all six high schools:

  • Lincoln East High School, noon, Pinnacle Bank Arena
  • Lincoln North Star High School, 1:30 p.m., Bob Devaney Sports Center
  • Lincoln Southeast High School, 3 p.m. Pinnacle
  • Lincoln High School, 4:30 p.m., Devaney
  • Lincoln Northeast High School, 6 p.m., Pinnacle
  • Lincoln Southwest High School, 7:30 p.m., Devaney

The Bryan Community Focus Program will hold graduation ceremonies at 7 p.m. Thursday, May 19, at Lincoln Southwest High School.

 

 

Lincoln Public Schools Hot Topics: May 4, 2016

Posted in Just Sharing by on May 3rd, 2016

  1. Proposed LPS Transportation Plan – For more information: Liz Standish, lstandis@lps.org

Students attending the Lincoln Public Schools Science Focus Program (Zoo School) and the Arts and Humanities Focus Program would be offered free transportation next year – from high school to the focus programs and back – under the proposed LPS transportation plan for 2016-17.

The estimated cost for transportation for students to focus programs would be $34,640. In addition, other proposed transportation increases next year are: adding one bus route to Adams Elementary School; one route for students with special education needs to the new Sally G. Wysong Elementary School; and transportation for Humann Elementary School students to an alternate location while the school is under renovation .

“This is something we’ve hoped for as a Board for a very long time,” Board member Barb Baier noted. “I would encourage anyone…to look at those focus programs as an opportunity for their students now that transportation is available.”

2. Last day, graduation – For more information: Pat Hunter-Pirtle, ppirtle@lps.org

The final day of classes for Lincoln Public Schools students this year is Thursday, May 19.

The LPS class of 2016 will celebrate graduation ceremonies on Sunday, May 22 – for all six high schools.

  • Lincoln East High School, noon, Pinnacle Bank Arena
  • Lincoln North Star High School, 1:30 p.m., Bob Devaney Sports Center
  • Lincoln Southeast High School, 3 p.m. Pinnacle
  • Lincoln High School, 4:30 p.m., Devaney
  • Lincoln Northeast High School, 6 p.m., Pinnacle
  • Lincoln Southwest High School, 7:30 p.m., Devaney

The Bryan Community Focus Program will hold graduation ceremonies at 7 p.m. Thursday, May 19, at Lincoln East High School

3. Wellness update – For more information: Michelle Welch, mwelch@lps.org

An annual “Wellness Update” for the school year was presented at a recent meeting of the Lincoln Board of Education – underlining general improvements for fitness levels in the school district.

Highlights from the year included:

  • In general, LPS students who are determined “fit” score higher on NeSA tests – in reading, math and science – when compared to students who are “not at fitness goal.”
  • LPS students in fourth through eighth grades taking what is called the Fitnessgram PACER have improved in the past year: 71 percent passed the PACER in in 2011-2 compared to 77.7 percent this school year.
  • LPS reports lower levels of obesity in kindergarten and first grade. Possible explanations include: Impact of Early Childhood efforts; impact of LPS efforts with other siblings; impact of community initiatives such as healthy beverages and nutrition marketing.
  • LPS participates in the Smarter Lunchroom movement that stresses serving healthier school meals. Related initiatives include: Colorful banners to welcome children to the cafeteria; bright bowls and baskets full of fresh fruit; seasonal decorations for serving lines; posters to encourage healthy eating; identifying food with unique names that appeal to students.

4. Two more positions announced – For more information: Eric Weber, eweber@lps.org

LPS has announced two positions have been filled:  The new director of Transportation and the new curriculum specialist for Social Studies.

  • The new Transportation director is Ryan Robley, currently the coordinator of Transportation for Durango School District in Durango, Colorado.
  • The new curriculum specialist for Social Studies is Jaci Kellison, currently a Social Studies teacher at Lincoln Southeast High School.

5. Senior Q&As – For more information: Zachary Baehr, zbaehr@lps.org

Lincoln Public Schools is showcasing the variety of students who are graduating from high school this year, the variety of ways in which they are successful, and how their education has positioned them for the future. For senior Q&As go to the front of the LPS website: http://home.lps.org/qa/

 

Summary of legislative bills potentially impacting education in 2016

Posted in Just Sharing by on April 20th, 2016

Passing into Law by the Conclusion of the Second Session of the 104th Nebraska Legislature

Bill# Senator One Liner from the Legislature Comments Result
LB710 Hughes Change provisions relating to hazing Removed the limitation of the previous law that applies penalties for hazing only to post-secondary situations. This change in law does not apply to school districts, and it does not affect our policy. This provides a tool for law enforcement Approved by the Governor
LB713 into LB956e** Stinner State intent relating to appropriations for the Access College Early Scholarship Program The bill was adopted into the budget (LB956) as an additional annual allocation of $250,000 a year to the ACE Scholarship fund to provide financial support for students who qualify for Free/Reduced Lunch – to take dual-credit and college courses. Approved by the Governor
LB874e** Murante Change procedures for filling vacancies on school boards Aligned the process with other political sub-divisions. The new law allows appointees to open seats on the School Board to serve until the original term expires. Approved by the Governor
LB814 Friesen Change a requirement for issuance of a school permit Eliminates the distance requirements for a school permit, so the only determination on whether a student can apply for the permit is whether the trip to school requires going between rural and city environments. Approved by the Governor
LB821 Larson Workplace Privacy Act Protects privacy of an individual’s social media accounts from employers, and protects employers from individuals posting private business information on social media accounts without permission. Approved by the Governor
LB876 Murante Authorize electronic voting devices for public bodies in public meetings Allows public bodies to use electronic voting devices to record votes. Currently the Lincoln Board of Education uses a voice, roll call voting system. Approved by the Governor
LB889 Mello Adopt the School Readiness Tax Credit Act Provides an income tax credit to individuals offering commercial early childhood and early education programs. Approved by the Governor
LB930 Scheer Change provisions relating to statewide assessments and college admission testing as prescribed. ACT-type testing for all juniors and eliminates NeSA for high school students. Please see FAQ on lps.org Approved by the Governor
LB959e** Sullivan Change and eliminate provisions relating to school funding, budgets, and levy authority Eliminates minimum levy adjustment and minimum levy requirements for averaging adjustment, and lowers the QCPUF (a special environmental quality levy) to 3 cents. The bill allows all existing projects to be completed, but any new projects must be funded on levies up to, but not exceeding 3 cents. Approved by the Governor
LB1002 Baker Permit educational service unit boards to pay membership dues to associations of school boards This allows school district Boards of Education to pay for membership to local and national associations that support the work of Boards using tax dollars. Approved by the Governor
LB1066 Sullivan Change provisions relating to education This is the Legislative Education Committee’s technical cleanup bill meant to clarify current law, more than create new laws. 1. A great deal of the bill clarifies that school districts must establish public criteria for reaching program capacity before refusing students from entering the school district through the option enrollment process. 2. The bill asks the Nebraska Department of Education to determine the appropriate definition for textbook for the implementation of Rule 4, which provides funding for textbooks for private schools. 3. The bill provides guidance for school districts choosing to follow the Community Eligibility Provisions system for providing services to schools that have very high percentages of Free/Reduced Lunch qualifying students. Approved by the Governor
LB1067 Sullivan Change provisions relating to learning communities Several years ago, the Learning Community was created for Douglas and Sarpy county schools to provide balanced support for all students in the counties by pooling the levy of all districts in the counties. The bill eliminates the common levy that shares these resources, and returns school districts to independent status for state aid beginning in the 2017-2018 school year. The districts are still part of a Learning Community focused on improving student achievement through the Community Action Plan process. Approved by the Governor
LB1074 into LB956e** Kolowski Appropriate $1 million to the Nebraska Department of Education to carry out Expanded Learning Opportunities (ELO). An ELO is like a Community Learning Center, but does not offer as full a range of services. The bill was adopted into the budget (LB956) as a one-time appropriation of $250,000 – allocated for grant funds available to ELOs/CLCs in Nebraska. Approved by the Governor
LB1086 Davis Change provisions relating to student self-management of asthma or anaphylaxis Expands the approval for self-management of asthma or anaphylaxis from those approved by a physician – to those approved by a physician as well as those approved by other health care professional. Approved by the Governor

** e – Bills designated with an “e” indicate that they were passed with an emergency clause.

A bill needs 33 votes rather than a simple majority of 25 votes to pass with an emergency clause. Most bills passed and approved by the governor become law three calendar months after the Legislature adjourns. However, bills may take effect before that date if they contain an emergency clause or a specified operative date.

LB874, 956 took effect immediately after becoming law.

 

Lincoln Public Schools Hot Topics: April 18, 2016

Posted in Just Sharing by on April 18th, 2016

  1. BackPack Walk to feed our children – For more information: Shari Skyskal, sskyskal@lps.org

The ninth annual BackPack Extra Mile Walk – held at Lincoln East High School April 18, a partnership initiative of Lincoln Public Schools and the Food Bank of Lincoln – raised more than $145,000 this year and donations are still climbing. That means the annual walk has raised more than $1.3 million since it began – with the goal of “Filling the Fridge” for the children of our community. The BackPack Program provides food-filled backpacks that are sent home each Friday to many LPS families in need.

2. A peek inside new Wysong Elementary – For more information: Liz Standish, lstandis@lps.org

Standing in what will be a future kindergarten classroom, local news reporters this April got a first look at the new Sally G. Wysong Elementary School set to open in southeast Lincoln in the fall of 2016.

Quick Facts about the new elementary:

  • Four-section: four classrooms per grade
  • Preschool-fifth grade
  • Student capacity of 525

The $20 million Wysong Elementary is funded through the 2014 LPS bond issue, which also financed school additions, renovations, technology and security updates throughout the community, as well as a new middle school (opening fall of 2017) and a renovated facility to house middle school students with behavior issues (opening fall of 2016).

3. Honoring our paras – For more information: Mindy Burbach, mburbach@lps.org

Modifying wheelchairs to help students become independent, going with a student to the eye doctor to help him get glasses, helping parents who are overwhelmed get support – these are just some of the amazing stories submitted about our paras at Lincoln Public Schools.   Paraeducators Recognition Day happens in April, so LPS took a moment to thank all our paras for the outstanding work they do every day to make a difference in children’s lives. Their stories are featured on the LPS website. Go to: http://lps.org/post/detail.cfm?id=1087

4. The Career Academy – For more information: Dan Hohensee, dhohen@lps.org

Applications continue to come into The Career Academy for next school year, with an enrollment to date of more than 400 students for 2016-17. TCA has several more parent meetings scheduled in April so enrollment is expected to continue to rise. The Career Academy is a joint venture between Lincoln Public Schools and Southeast Community College with the goal of providing academic and real world experiences to high school juniors and seniors through high school and dual credit courses in 16 different career pathways

5. Controversial issues – For more information: John Neal, jpneal@lps.org

Earlier this month the Lincoln Board of Education discussed changes in several LPS policies including policies related to controversial issues – changes meant to reinforce the purpose of teaching controversial issues, express the importance of working with families, and expressing how the policy applies to unplanned conversations that occur in classrooms. Board members will vote final approval on these proposals at the April 26 Board meeting.

John Neal – assistant to the Superintendent for Administration and Governmental Relations – stressed that this policy only addresses one of many ways the school district communicates with parents. These proposed policy changes:

  • Emphasize that LPS values the opportunity for students to develop and practice critical thinking skills.
  • Retain the broader scope of the policy, and not narrow the focus to one or two issues.
  • Underline required parental notification when a controversial issue will be included in a classroom, making sure that students and families receive notification far enough in advance to request alternative activities.
  • Recognize those “teachable moments” in a classroom when a student might ask a teacher something that is outside the curriculum, allowing a teacher to answer that question using professional judgment.

6. LPS Learning Lunch for April – For more information: Mary Kay Roth, mkroth@lps.or

Music will rock the final Lincoln Public Schools Learning Lunch of the school year when we celebrate Live from the Met: Opera Curriculum in our Schools for our April 26 gathering at 12:15 p.m. in the Board Room at LPS District Office, 5905 O St. The program will feature Judy Bush, a teacher from Fredstrom Elementary, and Joni Osborne, a teacher at Lincoln North Star High School – and plenty of music.

 

LB930 and Lincoln Public Schools

Posted in Your Questions Answered by on April 13th, 2016

The passage of LB930 by the state legislature will eliminate the current Nebraska State Accountability (NeSA) reading, writing and math assessments at the high school level – and replace it. The replacement will be a standard college admissions test to be selected by the State Board of Education (like the ACT, SAT or similar assessment) and taken by high school juniors. This could occur as early as the spring of 2016, but not later than the spring of 2017. The next essential step in the process is for the bill to go Gov. Ricketts for his consideration.

Q. Does this mean that NeSA tests will no longer be administered at the high school level?
A. Yes

Q. Will the NeSA test be replaced by the ACT, SAT or something else, and who makes this decision?
A. The Nebraska State Board of Education will select a standardized college entrance exam.

Q. How is the new assessment funded?
A. The Nebraska Department of Education will pay for administration of the college entrance test used for this purpose.

Q. How will this impact my student?
A. For high school students, it will decrease the number of assessments that interrupt instruction during the spring and students will participate in a college entrance exam at no cost to them or their families.

Q. All juniors in LPS already take the ACT. What will be the impact if ACT is chosen as a replacement for the state, or the SAT, or something else?
A. We will most likely use the same or a very similar system of testing that we currently use to administer the ACT.

Q. How does this change in assessment impact the LPS school calendar since you have added days to fourth quarter for NeSA assessments?
A. The LPS Calendar Committee will consider this change when it meets to build future student calendars, but it will have to be balanced with the assessment needs in elementary and middle school.

Q. Will this change matter to colleges as my student completes the application process?
A. The number of students taking a college entrance exam in Nebraska will likely increase, which might mean more students will go to college. Colleges will accept these college-ready scores.

Q. Why did LPS support this change?
A. We have seen very positive responses to the ACT pilot in LPS that allows all juniors to take the ACT college entrance exam. Students seem very motivated to take the test and appreciate the usefulness of having a college entrance score to support their application to college and making future academic plans. Without the ability to take the ACT, it is unlikely that every LPS student would have the opportunity to complete a national college entrance exam. Not having a score might limit a student’s understanding of future options or limit the ability to pursue future options. Using scores from a college entrance exam to meet state testing requirement is also a more efficient use of time spent on assessment because the scores can be used for accountability and college entrance.

Q. Does this mean less testing time at the high school level?
A. Yes. LPS juniors are currently taking both the ACT and the NeSA at the high school level, and this would mean they would only take the standard college admission test selected.

Q. NeSA is designed to measure student performance on state standards. What if the next test isn’t aligned with the state standards?
A. The State Board of Education will determine a process for measuring state standards using data from the student results on the college entrance exam they select.

Q. Schools use NeSA results to select effective teaching strategies and identify student strengths and needs. Will the next test serve the same purpose?
A. Yes. We also use other district academic achievement measures for this purpose.

Q. Will this impact NeSA testing schedules and requirements in grades 3 through 8?
A. No. Students in grades three through eight will continue to take the NeSA test until the Nebraska Department of Education would determine a change is necessary at those grade levels.

Lincoln Public Schools Hot Topics: April 4, 2016

Posted in Just Sharing by on April 4th, 2016

  1. Video of Learning Lunch on Math – For more information: Mary Kay Roth, mkroth@lps.org

Thanks to Matt Larson, curriculum specialist for mathematics at LPS, for his LPS Learning Lunch presentation in March on “Guide to Mathematics Education Today.”  The first thing Larson wanted to do was set the record straight about mathematics education today: “The issues raised with mathematics today are not new, they are historical. Americans have long complained about the quality of mathematics instruction and mathematics education.”

At LPS, the focus is now a more balanced approach with students not only learning the rules and procedures in mathematics, but also gaining a conceptual understanding of how and when to use concepts to solve the problem. Larson said:  “We all expect our children can become great musicians or great athletes, and how will they do that? They’ll get good coaching. They’ll get corrective feedback. They’ll take action on that feedback. They’ll practice, and they’ll work hard, and they’ll get better and better and better. And the message is learning mathematics is no different. You become a great math student the same way you become a great athlete or a great piano player.”

View the program on the LPS website, or go to:

http://lps.org/post/detail.cfm?id=10816

2. Bond issue projects humming along – For more information: Liz Standish, lstandis@lps.org

Construction projects funded through the 2014 bond issue are moving along as renovations, additions, technology and security updates are culminating throughout the community.

This week Lincoln Board of Education members as well as news media will get their first peek at the new Sally Wysong Elementary School in southeast Lincoln. The school is located at 7901 Blanchard Boulevard and will open in the fall of 2016.

3. Welcoming new principals – For more information: Eric Weber, eweber@lps.org

Lincoln Public Schools has named five new principals for the school district: four elementary principals and one middle school principal. Jane Stavem, associate superintendent for Instruction at LPS: “We are pleased to welcome these talented leaders to their new posts for the 2016-17 school year. They have an incredible commitment to our mission of serving students and families in Lincoln Public Schools.”

Go to the LPS website or click on:

http://www.lps.org/post/detail.cfm?id=10774

4. Summer school planning – For more information: Jane Stavem, jstavem@lps.org

Summer school at LPS – with opportunities that have grown over the past four years – will happen at many grade levels across the school district in a variety of ways. LPS will again hold a six-week high school summer session at Lincoln North Star High School with classes from May 25 through July 7. The classes are open to current high school students for general education, English Language Learners and special education. Classes will go online this week; registration opens April 18.

In addition, LPS will offer e-learning opportunities for students, classes for students with special education needs, summer elementary literacy/numeracy programs, and middle school instrumental, vocal and technology programs.

5. Countdown to BackPack Walk April 16 – For more information: Shari Styskal, sstyskal@lps.org

Just the facts

BackPack Walk 2016: 10 a.m. Saturday, April 16.

Where: Lincoln East High School

Why: Provide funding and education for the LPS/Food Bank BackPack Program

6. Teacherhannah – For more information: Mindy Burbach, mburbach@lps.org

Arnold Elementary School early childhood teacher Hannah Huston has made it to the top 20 in NBC’s The Voice. Cheer her on with ‪#‎teacherhannah ‪#‎lpsproud

Lincoln Public Schools Hot Topics: March 14, 2016

Posted in Just Sharing by on March 13th, 2016

  1. Fourth quarter

Monday, March 14, marks the beginning of fourth quarter for the 2015-16 school year for Lincoln Public Schools.

2. Top Community fund raising For more information: Mary Kay Roth, mkroth@lps.org

Lincoln Public Schools administrators and employees came together with 24 bowling teams on the last Saturday in February to participate in the annual LPS/Junior Achievement Bowl-A-Thon – and win honors as the top fund-raising organization in the community category. LPS raised a total of $7,864.30 for the local Junior Achievement.

3. Math education focus of March LPS Learning Lunch For more information: Mary Kay Roth, mkroth@lps.org 

A Guide to Mathematics Education Today – that’s the title of the March 29 Lincoln Public Schools Learning Lunch scheduled for 12:15 p.m. at LPS District Office, 5905 O St. The program will be presented by Matt Larson, curriculum specialist for Mathematics at LPS. Larson will discuss the focus of mathematics education today and why it is important, and examine some of the concerns raised about mathematics education in social media.

4. LPS Network For more information: Zachary Baehr, zbaehr@lps.org

We’ve posted some great new videos on the LPS Network recently, including new additions such as the LPS Spelling Bee, the February Learning Lunch featuring Mental Health issues, the Thank You Teacher Breakfast, and more.  Check it out by clicking on the camera on the front of the LPS website: https://www.lps.org/video/

5. March madness For more information: Zachary Baehr, zbaehr@lps.org

The annual Lincoln Public Schools March Madness Bracket Challenge starts Monday, March 14, asking our school district and our community to select their favorite recess game. We are pitting 16 favorite games against each other, one by one until we have a champion. The public will vote for their favorite each round. Go to the front of the LPS website and cast your vote.

6. BackPack Walk April 16 For more information: Shari Styskal, sstyskal@lps.org

The annual LPS BackPack Extra Mile Walk is scheduled for 10 a.m. Saturday, April 16, at Lincoln East High School.  The Walk is the major annual fund-raising community effort organized specifically by LPS employees – in support of the Food Bank’s weekly BackPack Program.

How two teachers shared their high school’s story with 10,000* people

Posted in Facts and Figures, Web Sites and Social by on March 2nd, 2016

Two teachers, two stories, a few photos and 10,000* people.

In the past month, two different teachers at Lincoln East High School shared a story about a recent classroom lesson they had just finished. After asking for a few photos and some more basic information, we in Communications for Lincoln Public Schools shared those two stories on the LPS website, and social media sites for the school and school district. One of these stories also made the deadline for our March issue of the Community News.

Teachers Connie Ahrends and Laura Graulty each emailed us stories and photos about a classroom activity that was worth bragging about: combining different curriculum into one lesson, and bringing in an outside speaker that talked not only about an aspect of the lesson they were reviewing (gambling) but also an issue that impacts teenagers in various ways. (Read them here and here.)

These stories weren’t overly long: one teacher had it fully written, the other answered a few questions via email and we added that information to her story. One sent a photo right away, the other sent photos after we asked for them.

Those two stories drew thousands of eyeballs to the headlines, photos and the stories themselves. More than 7,000 readers read the story on the LPS website, and others saw the headlines on Twitter or Facebook. These two together help create a positive impression of the real-world lessons our students get every day in our schools.

In the advertising / marketing world, there is an old adage that someone must see something seven times and in various ways before it really impacts them. While the exact number may be 6 or 8 or something else, the gist is that people need to hear our stories over and over again to maintain or create a positive impression.

So, some quick math … picture 100 teachers at one high school, for example, each providing just one short story and photo per semester equals 200 stories a school year! That’s more than the number of school days in the year! And this doesn’t have to be relegated to teachers. Counselors, paras, anyone can help in the writing of our narrative.

Something to think about when you are wondering how to better spread the word of the cool opportunities you are creating, and the great experiences are students are getting in your school.

* Online stats are inaccurate, insightful and inaccurate (yes, we said that twice). Someone who sees it on Facebook may also see it on Twitter and on the website, with no way for us to count and weed out duplicates or quaddruplicates. But that same person may also talk about it with their neighbor, who has younger kids, and that could leave a positive impression on their minds, and we can’t count those either. So, who’s counting?






Untitled presentation-3

Lincoln Public Schools Hot Topics: February 29, 2016

Posted in Just Sharing by on February 29th, 2016

  1. Thank a Teacher For more information: Mary Kay Roth, mkroth@lps.org

Tuesday, March 1, is Nebraska Teacher Recognition Day – and Lincoln Public Schools honors five special students and five special educators in a ceremony that day to celebrate teachers throughout our community. Watch the LPS website and social media for text and video excerpts of what students said about their special teachers.

2. Teacher Hannah For more information: Mindy Burbach, mburbach@lps.org

We are so excited for Hannah Huston, a preschool teacher at Arnold Elementary School, who is auditioning for The Voice on NBC. Her season starts Monday, February 29. Good luck #teacherhannah ! #lpsproud

For a video that features Arnold kids sending good luck to their teacher, go to https://www.facebook.com/lincolnpublicschools

3. Two-year contract package proposed for LPS educators For more information: Liz Standish, lstandis@lps.org

The Lincoln Education Association and Lincoln Public Schools have reached a tentative agreement with teachers for a two-year contract for the 2016-17 and 2017-18 school years – in a proposal presented to the Lincoln Board of Education.  LPS is fortunate to have dedicated teachers who have earned this two-year agreement, according to Steve Joel, superintendent of LPS; Rita Bennett, president of the LEA; and Kathy Danek, president of the Lincoln Board of Education.

The tentative agreement provides a total package increase of 3.18 percent for the 2016-17 school year and an increase of 3.19 percent for the 2017-18 school year (which includes salary increases; increased health insurance premiums of 4.9 percent; and increases in Social Security and retirement costs). The Lincoln Board of Education conducted the first reading of the contract at the Feb. 23 meeting and will take action on the tentative agreement at the Board meeting set for March 22.

Board President Kathy Danek said: “Our school district has long been a solid steward of the community’s precious tax dollars – and we believe this agreement represents a good balance between prudent budgeting and maintaining a talented staff of educators at Lincoln Public Schools. I believe this proposed agreement affirms that our teachers are essential to this school district’s legacy of educational excellence.”

4. Classroom sound amplification systems For more information: Liz Standish, lstandis@lps.org

Classrooms across the school district will receive sound amplification systems over the next several years that begins phasing in the systems throughout LPS – thanks to a purchase considered by the Board of Education that will likely be approved at the meeting on March 22.
The Connected Classroom component of the instructional technology plan included sound amplification as an important element to ensure that both the teacher’s voice and digital sound content is uniformly distributed throughout the learning space. Classroom sound amplification systems were piloted at Culler Middle School during the 2014-15 school year. Educational research and the experience of teachers at Culler support the positive effects related to improved student outcomes, including: improved accommodation of hearing impaired learners, increases in student engagement, and perception of teacher proximity and a reduction in teacher fatigue.

5. Latest LPS podcast features LPS bilingual liaison For more information: Zachary Baehr, zbaehr@lps.org

Tosh Rick Jock is a bilingual liaison in Lincoln Public Schools from South Sudan. After growing up during the Civil War of South Sudan, struggling with loss of family members and friends, he made it to America and his job at Lincoln Public Schools. And yet … he went back to South Sudan for a time. Why? There are 200 reasons, and one very noble cause.   For the podcast go to the LPS website: http://home.lps.org/podcast/

6. Celebration of Success

The Nebraska Association of Elementary School Principals recently announced that Ann Jablonski, principal at Kooser Elementary School, has been named the 2015 National Distinguished Principal from Nebraska. Jablonski has been a principal at LPS for 17 years, and has been the administrator in three elementary buildings before selected to open Kooser Elementary in 2009.

About our ‘new’ customer service center

Posted in Rumor Control, Talking Points by on February 26th, 2016

To clarify the recent approval of a customer service solution by our Board of Education earlier this week: 

The Lincoln Public Schools ‘customer service center’ is staffed with 8,000 employees from our schools and district office. We will continue to handle the thousands of questions we receive daily via email, phone or in person, even fax occasionally, from students, parents, staff and community members.

The new Let’s Talk is not a call center, or a phone interceptor. It is simply one more way to contact our school district for answers: an online solution for people who don’t know how to find the right person to contact and need additional support in finding the right person at LPS who has their answer.

This system also allows us to gather feedback through an online survey, so we can better understand how effective we were in helping, and what we can do to get better.

During our pilot, we have received questions from parents about enrolling students in kindergarten, from former employees about tax information, from potential employees about job openings, from community members about things happening in our schools, and many more.

Lincoln Public Schools Hot Topics: February 15, 2016

Posted in Just Sharing by on February 15th, 2016

  1. Strategic plan/construction update For more information: Liz Standish, lstandis@lps.org

The community of Lincoln approved a $153 million bond issue in 2014 and Lincoln Public Schools is well on the way to working through many of the projects funded through that bond issue – the Lincoln Board of Education heard recently “We spend the same amount of time and effort on all our facilities in this school district, old and new,” said Scott Wieskamp, director of Operations at LPS. “We take good care of taxpayer dollars in the way we invest in facilities.”

He also emphasized that LPS projects generally involve local contractors and represent a significant push in “putting money back into our community.”

  • For more information go to the LPS website (http://www.lps.org/post/detail.cfm?id=10649)
  • You can also find a video online with the construction update (http://www.lps.org/video/center.html?title=Video&id=2371)

 2. One in five students face mental health issues For more information: Brenda Leggiadro, bleggia@lps.org

The February Lincoln Public Schools Learning Lunch – set 12:15 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 23 – will feature, One in Five: Students Facing Mental Health Challenges, a presentation from Brenda Leggiadro, coordinator for LPS Counselors and School Social Workers. Learning Lunches are held in the LPS District Office Board Room, 5905 O St.  Doors open at noon, the program begins at 12:15 p.m. Jersey Mike’s is providing free lunches this year.

3. Thank you teachers deadline – For more information: Mary Kay Roth, mkroth@lps.org

The deadline to submit nominations – about teachers who have made a difference in your life – is Friday, Feb. 19. The annual Thank You Teacher contest is sponsored by Lincoln Public Schools, and invites students and former students to share stories of special teachers. Nominations should be postmarked or sent by Friday, Feb. 19 – letters to LPS District Offices or online nominations on the LPS website. We look back at some of our favorite letters from students and parents from the past five years with the most recent LPS Podcast at http://home.lps.org/podcast/

4. Lincoln High student believes in civic duty For more information: Mary Kay Roth, mkroth@lps.org

When Lincoln High School senior Joanna Hejl was in middle school, she got angry – and then passionate – noticing the way cigarette advertisements were so often aimed at teenagers, and often specifically at teenage girls.  “You had cigarettes like Camel No. 9’s, telling young women to dress to the 9’s – a clear way to ensnare young female smokers,” she said. “This has become a real social justice issue for me.”

And that’s why Joanna left school early one day this month to appear before the Nebraska Legislature’s Revenue Committee, testifying in favor of proposed legislation that would significantly raise the tax on cigarettes and tobacco products. “As a young person I am passionate about this issue,” Joanna told the Revenue Committee in a calm, confident voice. “Every year 1,400 young Nebraskans pick up the tobacco habit…This is your opportunity to stop that from happening.”

For the full story: http://www.lps.org/post/detail.cfm?id=10657

5. Foundation ambassadors For more information: Wendy Van, wendy.van@lps.org

They are the eyes and ears of the Foundation for Lincoln Public Schools – a way to help all LPS staff, teachers and administrators understand the work of the Foundation. They are the new Ambassadors for the Foundation, a program officially launched this school year with volunteers willing to serve in that role.

Ambassadors are LPS employees who let the Foundation know of opportunities in their schools and departments to help students through donor dollars. Currently 50 Ambassadors have signed on to serve – and eventually the Foundation would like one representative from each LPS building and each department at LPS District Office.

6. Celebration of SuccessFor more information: Mary Kay Roth, mkroth@lps.org

The Lincoln Board of Education recognized Scott Middle School Library Media Specialist Jean Hellwege for winning the Gale/Library Media Connection Teams Award.

Questions Related to North Star Enrollment and High School Enrollment

Posted in Facts and Figures, Your Questions Answered by on February 8th, 2016

1. How many students reside in the attendance boundary of each of our high schools?

Lincoln High 2,031 – East High 1,743 – Northeast 1,674 – Southeast 1,655 – North Star 2,463 – Southwest 1,441

2. How many students in the North Star attendance area attend North Star?
1,810 students, as of the 2015-2016 official fall count.

3. How many students residing in the North Star attendance area attend other high schools?
653 students, as of the 2015-2016 official fall count.

4. How many students residing outside the North Star attendance area attend North Star?
382 students, as of the 2015-2016 official fall count.

5. What is the capacity of each of our high schools?
Adjusted capacity at our high schools has been calculated based on utilization, which is driven by staffing. If a high school only has staff to cover 5 of 7 periods, the utilization would dictate a lower capacity. As part of the LPS 10-year Facility and Infrastructure Plan update, we would like to evaluate high school capacity. LPS historically references 1,850 as an ideal high school capacity. This figure is based on the core support facilities, diversity in class offerings, and specialized student populations.

6. What are the current middle school enrollments?
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7. What are the projected enrollments for every high school?
High School enrollment projections are still very fluid, changing daily. The projected enrollments will settle in later in the summer. For example, the projected enrollment at North Star has ranged from 2,176 – 2,202 over the last week.

8. Are we considering the addition of programming at high schools with capacity?
Larger follow up discussion needed.

9. What is the future of the high school ELL programing and how many schools should we serve through an ELL program?
ELL programming is established at high schools with the highest numbers of ELL students due to the staffing needs of the program. North Star and Lincoln High currently have ELL programs. LPS will be adding an ELL program at Northeast over time beginning with 9th grade students in 2016-2017 and any ELL students who choose to attend Northeast.

10. What is the current make-up of students attending The Career Academy (TCA)?
For TCA as a whole, 276 total students started second semester; 50% of students are on some type of need-based scholarship.

Specifically for North Star: 49 Students from North Star attend The Career Academy and 56 North Star students have applied for 2016-2017.

11. What is the role of TCA in assisting with our growing high school population? What sub-populations does it serve or not serve?
TCA is open to all students, including students requiring learning accommodations. The program has not been through the first complete year of programming nor a complete two-year cycle as it is designed. There has not been enough time to form valid assumptions around trend data until we have at least a three-year window for data. Middle schools are doing a great job of introducing TCA to students, and we continue to build awareness with teachers and administrators. LPS expects the TCA enrollment to continue to grow.

Lincoln Public Schools Hot Topics: February 1, 2016

Posted in Just Sharing by on February 1st, 2016

  1. Snow days For more information: Mary Kay Roth, mkroth@lps.org

Yes, Lincoln Public Schools is keeping a watch on the skies, as we do whenever there is an inclement weather forecast. The school district uses a telephone communication system to alert families of weather-related school closing days in the winter, a mass communication system that notifies families individually when school has been canceled due to bad weather. When a decision is made in the evening, we try and notify families by 10 p.m. or earlier. When a decision is made in the morning, we try and notify families by 6 a.m. Information about school closings is also posted prominently on the LPS website, and announced through local news media.

2. Proposed 2017-18 calendar For more information: John Neal, jpneal@lps.org

Lincoln Public Schools would start the 2017-18 school year on Monday, August 14, and end on May 24, according to a proposed calendar that the Lincoln Board of Education will vote on Tuesday, Feb. 9. For a complete look, as well as guidance for sharing comments and questions, go to: http://www.lps.org/about/calendar/proposal/

As in previous years, the LPS Calendar Committee has followed Board approved student calendar primary and secondary variables to design and recommend a calendar that meets the purpose statement, “The school calendar demonstrates the district’s commitment to learning.  It is based on sound instructional considerations and priorities ensuring the continuity, efficiency, and effectiveness of teaching and learning.”

BACKGROUND: Each year a joint LPS/Lincoln Education Association committee – composed of parents, Board members, Lincoln Education Association leaders, teachers and administrators – recommends a student calendar for the Board’s consideration. In addition to the Calendar Committee, the Board’s Student Learning Committee reviews the recommended calendar.  It has been the practice of the Board to adopt a calendar more than a full calendar year before it is in place. The Calendar Committee received input from the Community Curriculum Council, a district parent group with a representative from each school, the district-wide PTO group and the Board’s Student Learning Committee.

3. Meeting your School Board members For more information: Steve Joel, sjoel@lps.org

In honor of School Board Recognition Month in January, we have added personal photographs and interesting Q&As to our webpage on the Lincoln Board of Education. Go to this webpage, scroll down to the Board members and click on the green boxes. http://www.lps.org/about/board/

4. LPS podcast focuses on S-P-E-L-L-I-N-G For more information: Zachary Baehr, zbaehr@lps.org

LPS Podcast has launched: a collection of interesting school district stories featuring our students, staff members and schools. The latest podcast highlights the lure, love and luck of spelling bees – speaking with two long-time organizers of the LPS Spelling Bee who talk about why they love it and what makes for the best spelling bee strategies. This year’s LPS Spelling Bee is set for 8:30 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 13 at Culler Middle School, 5201 Vine St. For the podcast go to: http://home.lps.org/podcast/

5. Proposal for North Star For more information: Liz Standish, lstandis@lps.org

Due to high and increasing student numbers at Lincoln North Star High School, the Lincoln Board of Education is considering a change in previous practice and making the high school unavailable to transfers of students living outside of the North Star attendance area – after the transfer deadline late in January. Students who filled out the appropriate forms by the Jan. 31 deadline would still be allowed transfer into North Star students.

The enrollment at North Star is approaching 2,200 and is expected to continue to grow, according to Liz Standish, associate superintendent for Business Affairs at LPS.   “We see this as balancing the facility and staffing needs of the school – with the long-standing choice system in the community. The high school choice and selection form process is intact.”

LPS staff members monitor enrollment trends in LPS facilities – such as available capacity, impact on educational program within the building, prior enrollment levels, and anticipated future growth within the building attendance area – in order to determine availability for transfer. In particular, staff has been continuously monitoring the enrollment trends at North Star as the population within the high school’s attendance area continues to grow. The Board will vote on this proposal at the Feb. 9 Board meeting.

6. Celebration of SuccessFor more information: Mary Kay Roth, mkroth@lps.org

The Lincoln Board of Education recognized Ann Jablonski, principal at Kooser Elementary School, named a Distinguished Principal by the Nebraska Council of School Administrators and the Nebraska Association of Elementary School Principals.

Why dismissing school early isn’t a realistic option

Posted in Behind the Scenes, Just Sharing, Rumor Control, Your Questions Answered by on January 26th, 2016

The most common comments Lincoln Public Schools received yesterday — other than just a general plea for a snow day from students — was to let our students go home from school earlier than scheduled.

If you consider yesterday’s snowfall and the timing of the snow, our school district believes we would have made a tough situation  even worse by letting out students early.

Imagine: If a decision could be made purely on forecast (and one notable local meteorologist admits they didn’t foresee the full impact of Monday’s snowfall) it might have been made at 10:30 in the morning. Then let’s pretend we dismiss all schools at noon.

Here’s what that would have meant:

  • Thousands of parents and guardians and grandparents would have had to leave work or home just when the weather turned really poor (low visibility, heavy snowfall).
  • Daycare places would have had to adjust schedules to find drivers to make their normal pick-ups.
  • School bus drivers would have had to hurry to their bus, then out to their location and routes. Also keep in mind that some bus drivers may make two or three different pick-ups from schools at different times.
  • Thousands of high school students would have been leaving school and driving just as the storm reached its full impact.
  • Thousands more students of all ages would have been walking home in areas of low visibility, and to homes that may or may not have had anyone waiting for them. (Just because we send an automated phone call and email doesn’t mean they are received right away.)
  • Thousands of students would not have eaten any lunch, and school lunches might be a child’s best chance at a healthy meal during the day.

Instead, as the timing worked out, students were walking and driving home when it wasn’t snowing, when visibility had improved, and on a normal schedule (albeit roads were slick).

LPS can’t always predict and plan when snow storms will start and stop. Yesterday we made the best decision we could based on the fluid forecasts available to us.

The safety of our students and staff is our top priority. Thanks for your understanding and patience.

Lincoln Public Schools Hot Topics: January 18, 2016

Posted in Just Sharing by on January 18th, 2016

  1. New online patron tool For more information: John Neal, jpneal@lps.org

Over the past six months, Lincoln Public Schools has piloted a new online patron engagement program – also designed to create a tracking system for questions and concerns from the community. LPS has branded the new program, ConnectNow, a product called “Let’s Talk” provided by K-12 Insight for free since July 15.

“We continue to ask ourselves how we can better communicate and engage with our public,” said LPS Superintendent Steve Joel. “As our district continues to grow, maintaining an effective system for communicating with our customers and following up on those communications will be a challenge.”

The new patron engagement program can be accessed on the front of the LPS website where community members can click, send their questions and concerns – and expect answers within two days and often sooner. The Board and staff members will continue to evaluate the program and develop a plan going forward.

2. First semester at The Career Academy For more information: Zachary Baehr, zbaehr@lps.org

Dan Hohensee, director of The Career Academy, talks popular pathways, promotions, surprises and the most delicious perk of the job – in the latest LPS Podcast. Go to the LPS website to find them.

3. Dogs, a school’s best friend: Learning Lunch – For more information: Mary Kay Roth, mkroth@lps.org

Dogs, a school’s best friend, is the topic of the next LPS Learning Lunch set for 12:15 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 26, in the Board Room at LPS District Office, 5905 O St. The presentation will feature stories about the value of canine companions in our schools (with appearances from two-legged and four-legged critters). Doors to the Board Room will open at noon, the program will begin at 12:15 p.m., questions-and-answers will happen at 12:45 p.m.

4. Celebration of SuccessFor more information: Mary Kay Roth, mkroth@lps.org

The Lincoln Board of Education has recognized Lincoln High School for being selected for the 2015 NebraskARTS Award presented by Nebraskans for the Arts.

5. Thank your Board of Education members

January is School Board Recognition Month, a great time to focus on the crucial role an elected board of trustees plays in our communities and schools. Please thank your LPS Board of Education!

Lincoln Public Schools Hot Topics: January 4, 2016

Posted in Just Sharing by on January 3rd, 2016

1. A quiet moment for Lincoln Public Schools students to respect our veteransFor more information: Mindy Burbach, mburbach@lps.org

Take a few minutes for a wonderful video showing how some of our LPS students spent a wintry Saturday morning decorating veteran’s graves at Wyuka Cemetery. Go to the front of the LPS website and look for Wreaths Across America, or go to http://lps.org/post/detail.cfm?id=10501

2. High school info nights for eighth graders and families in JanuaryFor more information: Pat Hunter-Pirtle, ppirtle@lps.org

Eighth-grade students and their families are invited to attend informational meetings held at each LPS high school in January. The meetings are designed for students and families to meet with school counselors and instructional staff, in addition to that school’s current students. Feel free to attend more than one school’s information session, as LPS students entering the ninth grade may choose the high school they want to attend. For more information contact the school’s counseling center, contact Pat Hunter-Pirtle or check the LPS website.

3. Launching LPS podcasts For more information: Zachary Baehr, zbaehr@lps.org

Lincoln Public Schools has launched a brand new communications channel: LPS Podcasts. These weekly productions feature a collection of interesting stories about the students and staff from LPS – in the growing popular audio form. Go to the LPS website to find them.

4. Thank you teachers – For more information: Mary Kay Roth, mkroth@lps.org

Early January marks the beginning of the annual Thank You Teacher contest, sponsored by Lincoln Public Schools, inviting students and former students to write us about how special teachers have made an impact on their lives. Nominations should be postmarked or sent by Friday, Feb. 19 – letters to LPS District Offices or online nominations on the LPS website. Five teachers will be chosen and honored at a special breakfast on March 1, where the five students who submitted the winning nominations also will be invited to attend and read their winning letters.

5. Upcoming Board of Education meetings – For more information: Laura Maxwell, lmaxwel@lps.org

There are several upcoming meetings for the Lincoln Board of Education in January: a special work session at 4:30 p.m. and a regular meeting at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 12 – and a rescheduled Board meeting at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 27.

6. TV listings on cable TV– For more information: Mary Kay Roth, mkroth@lps.org

Starting early in January, the specific TV shows broadcast on the educational public access channel – channel 80 – will now be listed on the TV schedule guides that run on cablevision networks. Tune in!

A few tips for social media users …

Posted in Web Sites and Social by on December 16th, 2015

Remember that we in Lincoln Public Schools are sometimes held to a higher standard. This means we need to be extra careful when we share information online. This doesn’t mean don’t tweet, but it is helpful to remember a few things before pushing publish:

  • Stay positive. Don’t be unnecessarily critical. Being upset that an airline cancelled your holiday flight home is one thing, but attacking an indvidual based on their viewpoint (or their dropped touchdown pass) isn’t helpful. And never use vulgar or foul language.
  • Avoid slang, or inside jokes or ‘code’ words that could easily be mis-interpreted.
  • Don’t post photos of other people, or tag them in a photo, if you haven’t asked if it’s ok. Remember that photo of you accidentally falling over in a chair with a innocent red silo cup nearby in the wee morning hours? Yeah. Let’s protect our friends from unnecessary embarrassment.
  • Maintain appropriate relationships. In general, communicating with minors (via social media, texts or otherwise) with whom you are not related could lead to confusion, mis-interpretation and allegations. Keep a clear line to maintain trust with all.

Contact

Mary Kay Roth
Director of Communications
mkroth@lps.org | 402-436-1610

P.O. Box 82889
Lincoln, Nebraska 68501

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