Summary of October 2, 2019 Meeting
The first Lincoln Public Schools Superintendent Teacher Advisory Council meeting of the 2019-20 school year was held on Wednesday, Oct. 2.
This group meets three times a year with the Superintendent to hear a broad overview of main issues facing Lincoln Public Schools. Members are then invited to make comments and ask questions. After the meeting, a summary will be sent to council members so it can be shared with staff members in their buildings.
Update on the 10-year Facility and Infrastructure Plan
Scott Wieskamp, director of Operations, presented an update on the LPS 10-year Facility and Infrastructure Plan. Staff and the Board of Education are currently discussing updates during work sessions in preparation for a potential bond issue in 2020.
The Superintendent’s Facility Advisory Committee widdled down the identified approximately $640 million worth of needs to $460 million as a tier-one priority, but we can only do about $300 million worth of projects without raising taxes.
Influential factors drive the plan. Those include enrollment growth, program deficiencies, curriculum delivery and technology, safety and security, sustainability practices and protecting our investment.
For more on the work sessions and the 10-year Facility and Infrastructure Plan: https://home.lps.org/2020bond/
Questions for Scott Wieskamp
Question: Everyone knows we need more schools to continue providing quality education. Does the plan’s Tier 1 also address the current concerns about air quality control – specifically air conditioning – at all schools, and especially high schools?
Answer: LPS has invested in Geothermal in the last 25 years. It’s a whole different system and part of that drive was because we had a lot of buildings without air conditioning. With Geothermal, we are bringing in fresh air so we don’t get a CO2 build up. The recent problems have to do with air conditioning humid air like we see in the Fall and Spring. Dehumidifying the air presents us with a challenge as the best way to dehumidify is to heat the air, then you have to cool it down before bringing it into the classrooms. Our current systems can’t keep up, but we are working on addressing those issues. Newer buildings will be pre-design for that, and now we are going back into those older buildings to address the issues.
Update from the Superintendent
Bond Issue Referendum
When the Board of Education does pass a bond resolution, it is really important that LPS staff members remember they cannot advocate for the referendum on school time or using school resources. This includes talking about it in the hallways or on school grounds during school hours, using LPS computing equipment and systems like email, and even posting about the issue on personal social media accounts during the working day. These are all things that will be heavily monitored by outside groups and the Accountability and Disclosure Commission.
We have fully implemented the CORE system. It has taken a lot of hours – nights and weekends – from our Human Resources and Computing Services teams to implement. They continue to work around the clock to fix issues as they arise. Core is something we will continue to grow with.
Nebraska Department of Education Accountability Report
The state accountability report will be released Oct. 9. We are in an era of accountability – the federal government wants to know the money they have invested is being utilized in the way they intended and the state wants assurance in that too.
Joel said, “What we read in these results and how people react is secondary to what we are doing for kids. At the end of the day, if we believe we are doing everything in our power to help kids be successful, then don’t worry about the labels. Unfortunately, though, that is what the public is going to be looking at, the labels.”
Questions for Steve Joel, Superintendent
Comment: What we saw in math and reading on MAP scores – our students performed above national level of growth and achievement across the board – we saw higher proficiencies. Then NSCAS came out — it dropped.
Answer: We have found that MAP is much more fair. The state has considered MAP, but the latest focus is on NSCAS. We are going to be above the state average in most of those measures and there is a lot in this data that says we are doing great. When we peel apart the data what we see in our groups is that we are flat. The state’s accountability measures poverty, refugees, special education. MAP testing gives us a better look at how we are doing with each student. Are we being as equitable as we can be, given limited resources? We wake up every morning wanting every student to have the same opportunities.
Comment: Teachers are worried that we are taking opportunities – like field trips – away from students that already get nothing.
Answer: As a district, we have limited resources and would like to do more. The most expensive part of the field trip is the transportation. That is something we are taking a look at with our study on equity.
Question: We have 500 children on the waiting list for early childhood, what are we looking at through the 10-year Facility and Infrastructure Plan to address that?
Answer: The recommendation from the SFAC was to build a stand alone building for early childhood. Our Board is doing an audit on what do we have available in existing classrooms. Prosperity Lincoln will be looking for companies to host early childhood on their sites to offer to their employees. This is a priority.
Question: For the high schools that don’t currently have focus programs, what will be done to address the equity in focus programs at existing high schools?
Answer: We have already begun that conversation. Pat Hunter-Pirtle has been working with high school principals to look into implementing focus programs at each high school. It will not look like a TCA, but will pick a track that will meet demand and where community resources are available.
Question: With the current high schools being full, why are we building smaller high schools?
Answer: It’s a balance because we have many other needs in the district to address. We cannot ignore K-5 or 6-8.
Question: How far is the city of Lincoln and Lincoln Public Schools going to grow? How much do we consume and remain Lincoln Public Schools?
Answer: One of the gifts we get, when the city of Lincoln grows, we grow. The state law says as the city of Lincoln annexes land, LPS gets it or it becomes part of our school district. It is far better for us to grow than to stagnate or recess.
Updated October 10, 2019