Hot Topics, Sept. 3, 2018

1. Community Open Forums to continue high school conversation For more information: Liz Standish, lstandis@lps.org

Lincoln Public Schools will host four Open Forums this fall throughout the community to gain broader engagement on the question of how to best serve current and future LPS high school students. Last year LPS convened a community/LPS High School Task Force to investigate community options and priorities for high school facilities. They shared recommendations last April.

Citizens who attend the Open Forums will continue that conversation, review Task Force recommendations and offer additional input. The meetings are set for four quadrants of the city, 5:30-6:30 p.m.:

  • Monday, Sept. 17, Lux Middle School, 7800 High St.
  • Monday, Sept. 24, Culler Middle School, 5201 Vine St.
  • Monday, Oct. 22, Goodrich Middle School, 4600 Lewis Ave.
  •     Tuesday, Oct. 30, Park Middle School, 855 S. 8thSt. 

More info: https://www.lps.org/post/detail.cfm?id=13048

2. Learn to Dream extends to two years – For more information: John Neal, jpneal@lps.org

Students will now have a chance to receive two years of free credits at Southeast Community College, thanks to a recent gift from the Acklie Charitable Foundation. The Learn to Dream Scholarship was established in 2007 to create an opportunity for every graduating Lincoln high school student to further their education with a free year at SCC in Lincoln, Milford or Beatrice, available for all low income students graduating from a Lincoln public or private high school. SCC and Lincoln’s high schools partnered with Union Bank & Trust and Nelnet to offer this innovative scholarship program, the first of its kind in Nebraska.  Since the inception of the program, more than 5,000 students have participated in the program.

Up until now students have been able to attend SCC for one year of classes without having to pay for tuition and fees.  The donation from the Acklie Foundation will now allow students to complete a second year at SCC, without paying tuition and fees. In fact, through The Career Academy and other dual high school and college credit courses taught in LPS, many LPS high school students participate in college courses while still in high school.

3. Budget adopted for 2018-19   For more information: Liz Standish, lstandis@lps.org

The Lincoln Board of Education has adopted the 2018-2019 budget, which includes significant investments in safety and security measures, programming with a focus on the classroom, and staffing to support substantial student growth – all while lowering the overall property tax levy one and one-half cents.  In the past five years LPS has grown 4,400 students while the tax levy has been reduced by two full cents (this year $1.22 per $100 of assessed property valuation compared to $1.24 in 2013).  The 2018-2019 budget includes the lowest tax levy on record at LPS in the past 50 years.

LPS has a solid process for budget development with a continued focus on stability in programming for students and families and opportunity for community feedback.  Overall, the Board reviewed about $31.7 million in increased needs and prioritized them, funding $23.1 million of added needs.  Funded areas include:

  • Providing help to classrooms and schools with: added teachers and staffing for regular education, special education, early childhood, English Language Learners (refugees and immigrants); added school counselors, social workers, and health care workers.
  • Security measures that include school resource officers at middle schools, broadened threat assessment, mental health supports, funding for Community Learning Centers, an additional security coordinator, and funding to ensure a standard for security measures at the entrances of every school in the district.
  • Funding for growth in additional areas such as instructional materials, technology needs, operations, and transportation.

Every year the budget process includes an estimate of property valuation growth and every year the county certifies the actual final valuation growth later in August. This summer, LPS officials estimated property valuation would grow by 5.2 percent, and recent final certified valuation was confirmed at 5.5 percent. Due to that adjustment in valuation, the Board of Education Tuesday determined to fund additional critical priorities: technology needs and additions to the LPS bus fleet.

High-quality public schools at a reasonable price bring tremendous value to our community.

4. LPS is ____ hope For more information: Mindy Burbach, mburbach@lps.org

What does Lincoln Public Schools mean to our community? This past summer we posed that question – to our community, our families, our staff and our students – asking folks to describe LPS in one, single word.  We gathered all of the amazing responses, chose the top nine responses, and Communications will make them our nine LPS themes for each month throughout the 2018-19 school year.  To launch our initiative at the beginning of this school year, we chose a word that captures the very essence of public schools in Lincoln. For September, Lincoln Public Schools is: HOPE.

Here’s how you can help with this project:

  • Use the frames on Facebook. Search for “LPS is” under frames when you click to edit your profile picture on Facebook.
  • Share stories on social media with the #LPSis(theme for the month). For example in September #LPSisHope.
  • Check out our special webpage: org/is

5. Thank you, Rotary  – For more information: Jason Keese, jkeese@lps.org

Lincoln’s Downtown Rotary Club has donated $50,000 to Everett Elementary School to help with the revitalization of its playground at 11th and C streets. Late in August, Jim Griesen, president of the Rotary 14 Foundation, presented the donation to Everett Principal Mike Long during a ceremony at the playground. Lincoln Board of Education Member Barb Baier, whose District 3 includes the Everett neighborhood, also was on hand, along with current Downtown Rotary President Randy Bretz and former presidents Mark Stephens and Jennifer Brinkman.   For more: https://www.lps.org/post/detail.cfm?id=13021