Preliminary Proposed Lincoln Public Schools 2024–2025 Budget

The Preliminary Proposed Budget for the 2024-2025 school year represents an investment in strategic priorities identified by the Lincoln Community. The Budget Work Session on June 25th provides details about the preliminary proposed General Fund expenditure and revenue budget. Two Public Work Sessions, Three Public Forums, Six Board of Education meetings and an online input tool provide the community with opportunities to weigh in on the LPS budget.

June 25th, 2024 Budget Work Session

Important Dates and Events

View full 2024–2025 budget calendar

Friday, July 12

Online Input Window Closes

Tuesday, July 23

Budget Work Session at 4:30 p.m.
at the SJDLC, Boardroom

Board Meeting at 6:00 p.m.
at the SJDLC, Boardroom
Opportunity for Public Comment

Tuesday, August 13

Board Meeting at 6:00 p.m.
at the SJDLC, Boardroom
Opportunity for Public Comment

Monday, August 26

Budget Hearing at 6:00 p.m.
at the SJDLC, Boardroom

Key Contacts

Kim Schmidt – Director of Budget & Finance, kschmidt@lps.org; 402-436-1708

Doug Anderson – Budget Specialist, danders5@lps.org; 402-436-1614

Julie Dougherty – Budget and Audit Technician, jdougher@lps.org; 402-436-1757

Videos and Presentations

Past Budget Information

Interested in scheduling a budget presentation for your community group?

Contact Associate Superintendent for Business Affairs Dr. Liz Standish at 402-436-1636

Questions and Answers

What is the largest portion of the LPS budget increase?

Salary and benefit increases for existing staff – $19 million of the total $25 million.

How much did LPS lose in state equalization funding for the 2024-2025 school year?

$32 million

How has the Board of Education responded to growing valuations?

In 2023, Lancaster County values went up 22.5%. The school board responded by lowering the property tax levy 14 cents for the 2023-2024 school year. The state aid formula for funding schools reduces state funding when property values go up. As a result, state funding to LPS will be going down $32 million for the 2024-2025 school year. This is equal to 9 cents of levy in lost revenue. However, our budget proposal includes a total levy increase of 2.7 cents. We have tried to reduce the levy when and where we can to offset the rising values for property owners. The cost of operating the school district continues to increase.

Why is the levy increasing?

The state aid formula for funding schools reduces state funding when property values go up. As a result, state funding to LPS will be going down $32 million for the 2024-2025 school year. This is equal to 9 cents of levy in lost revenue. However, our budget proposal includes a total levy increase of 2.7 cents. We have tried to reduce the levy when and where we can to offset the rising values for property owners. The cost of operating the school district continues to increase.

Should the citywide valuation increase certified to the school district at the end of August turn out to be less than or more than the 5% estimate, will the levy need to increase or decrease to make up the difference?

Yes, the levy at this point is only an estimate and it will need to respond to the certified valuation.

How will the district use any increase in revenue?

The 2024-2025 preliminary proceed budget includes a 1% increase in revenue. The primary use of the increase in revenue is to support salary and benefit increases.

Is LPS working to limit budget growth to 3%?

The primary driver of budget growth is salary and benefit increases. In this labor market the growth is greater than 3% which aligns with the Bureau of Labor Statistics measure of the cost to employ people.

What sectors of our community carry the burden of paying the additional taxes if approved?

The levy increase of 2.7 cents will be a 75 dollar increase per year on the average residential home. Property owners will see an increase in tax with the increase in the levy.

How much funding does the district get from sources such as lotteries, casinos, etc.?

School districts do not receive funds from lottery, gaming, etc.

What cuts has the district considered versus another increase to the tax base? If the district did cut expenses for the upcoming budget year, what was cut and how much?

The school district is facing a loss in Federal Funding for the 2024-2025 with the expiration of pandemic funding. This resulted in the reduction of 40 positions estimated at 3.3 million.

Last year, $18.5 million was placed into the reserve why does the 2024-2025 only use $1 million in cash considering the large drop in state aid?

LPS uses a three year forecast to plan for sustainability and stability in programming. The increase in cash flow will be used over a series of years incrementally. Budget to use a large amount of cash in one year only creates a large gap to fill the following year.

How much is in the cash reserve and how is it used to off set drops in state aid?

The general fund balance typically hit a low point at the end of March each year before property taxes begin to come in during April and August. The balance at the end of March 2024 was $69 million and the Federal Fund was a negative $48 million. $69 million would represent about two month of operating revenue. The 2024-2025 utilizes $1 million in cash reserve and incremental draws on the cash reserve are planned in the following years in our forecast.

How does the LPS pay systems — faculty and staff compensation, salary schedule, and stipends — compare with other districts in the regional identified market?

The negotiations process in LPS includes the review of similar positions in comparable school districts. In many positions we seek to be competitive with neighboring districts to ensure we can fill positions.

What cuts are being made in the upper administration (Associate Superintendents) in this proposed budget?

An Associate Superintendent was added a few years ago based on the size of the school district and the strategic focus on both instruction and behavior.

What is the breakdown of staff in LPS? (i.e., teachers, administrators, etc.)

74% teachers and school, 12% operations and transportation, 6% school office, 2% school security staff, 3% technicians and technical support, 3% district and school administrators

Where does LPS teacher pay rank among Nebraska public school districts?

The starting salary for a teacher in LPS is second to Omaha Public Schools. When you look at the whole pay scale it varies but LPS is generally in line with other districts.

Did substitute teachers get a raise?

Yes, from $177.47 to $185.53 per day (or 4.55%).

As LPS transitions to Foundation Aid will this decrease the impact of valuation swings on revenue in the future?

Yes, under the current system if (or when) LPS becomes Foundation Aid funded only, then equalization diminishes and state funding will be more static.

Most of our state aid is now foundation aid, $1500 per student. Is that $1500 amount indexed to anything to account for inflation?

Foundation aid is $1,500 per student and does not include an inflation or growth factor.

How much did property taxes go up last year and this year for the average homeowner?

Last year valuations went up 22.5% and the Board lowered the levy 14 cents so the average home owner saw an 8% increase. This year, if valuations stay flat the 2.7 cent increase results in a 2.5% increase.

How did taxpayers concerns expressed after receiving the pink postcards last year inform the drafting of this year's preliminary budget?

The $32 million drop in state aid would require a 9 cent levy increase. The Board’s plan resulted in a 2.7 cent increase.

How much is revenue growing for LPS?

The general fund revenue budget is growing by 1%.