Superintendent’s Facility Advisory Committee holds first meeting

More than 100 stakeholders from across the Lincoln community came together Tuesday – the initial stage of a tried-and-true practice at Lincoln Public Schools – to begin a seven-month process for analyzing long-range facility needs to envision schools of the future and ensure that LPS wisely accommodates student growth into the next 7-10 years.

“This is what separates Lincoln from other places,” LPS Superintendent Steve Joel told the new Superintendent’s Facilities Advisory Committee. “People in this community not only care deeply about kids, they are also willing to roll up their sleeves and help us work.”  

The Lincoln Board of Education charged Joel with the establishment of the Advisory Committee – by February, 2019 – to review the school district’s facility and infrastructure needs, options and priorities. 

“I’m delighted to begin this process,” Joel said.  “We thank these compassionate citizens – in advance – knowing the many considerations they must ponder…They will be asking: How should we plan for the future of our city and our more than 42,000 students?  They have the difficult task of identifying facility priorities that make the most sense for the Lincoln community and Lincoln schools.”

The Facilities Advisory Committee will dig into these difficult questions, meet through the summer and offer recommendations for a thoughtful, community-based plan – by Sept. 1, 2019 – that lays the foundation for a potential bond issue in 2020.  

“We respect this tested process of community engagement, and will make any and all decisions following their advice and input.,” Joel stressed.  “These will be difficult decisions, ensuring solid facilities for our students into the future – but also understanding there are considerably more needs than our limited resources will ever allow.”

He continued: “They also have to address the high school question.  How do we address high schools in an equitable and progressive manner? How many high schools should we build – and where?  How large should they be?  Last year we called together a community High School Task and their recommendations give us valuable parameters from which to begin, but critical questions loom.” 

Joel noted other considerations include the concept of personalizing education, thinking creatively and critically about curriculum delivery, thinking outside the box and personalizing the learning experience with options in career pathways and focus programs. 

The Committee is led by three co-leaders:

  • Jennifer Brinkman, Lancaster County Commissioner: “I’m a proud graduate of Lincoln Northeast High School, my husband and I are raising two kids who attend Lincoln High School … I have spent a large part of my career involved in community processes …. with an interest in public policy and serving citizens …. Reaching out to parents …. and I have a track record as a community volunteer …What I hope I can bring to this process, I played a part in looking at and bringing people together for the West Haymarket and Pinnacle Bank Arena project.”
  • Maribel Cruz, senior leadership consultant for Talent Plus: “As a director of leadership development and consulting, I spend a good portion of my day helping people think about leadership talent abilities … I am thrilled to be part of this process because I believe in the investment in Lincoln’s children, these are the future leaders of tomorrow … I believe in getting them all the resources they require to flourish …. I’m also very interested how Lincoln fits into the bigger business community. As the Silicon Prairie, lots of people are attracted to Lincoln, people who want to live and raise a family here … A strong school system is one of those major attractors.  Finally, I see a rich mosaic of students coming here from many different backgrounds and I want to make sure all those voices are heard.”
  • Nick Cusick, president of Bison, Inc.:  “I am a business owner and employer, so of course I have an interest in a strong school district … But I am also involved in many community activities … I believe we are incredibly fortunate to have a strong education system in Lincoln, both parochial and public … I have had the opportunity to work on the past Superintendent’s Facility Advisory Committee, I was heavily involved in the development of The Career Academy and I have been involved in LPS focus programs.  I recognize all kids are not alike, do not learn the same, and I am passionate about alternative learning options ….  Among my roles, I am passionate about this committee of 100 and consensus building.” 

Potential Sub-Committee Topics (this list could evolve):

  • New high school (number, size, program) – possibly two committees
  • High school athletics and activities
  • High school focus programs and alternatives
  • New elementary and middle schools
  • Infrastructure and finance
  • Early childhood and Community Learning Centers
  • Alternate Grade Level Configuration

Information was presented Tuesday from the most recent updated LPS Ten-Year Facilities and Infrastructure Plan as well as the city’s growth patterns.  For more about those presentations, to ask questions, to find a list of Committee members, meetings and resources, go to:


Published: January 15, 2019, Updated: January 16, 2019