Highlights of LPS 2020-21 preliminary proposed budget

Lincoln Public Schools officials on Tuesday presented the preliminary proposed budget for 2020-21 at a Lincoln Board of Education work session prior to its regular meeting. 

The budget development process for 2020-21 is unique and faces many challenges as the future carries a great deal of uncertainty due to the COVID-19 pandemic. LPS prudently builds the budget using a three-year forecast to estimate expenditures and revenues. 

“When we build the budget each year, the goal of the three-year forecast is sustainability and stability as major swings in revenue are steadied through the utilization of cash flow,” said Liz Standish, associate superintendent for Business Affairs. “The three-year forecast process proves difficult at this time. We do not know how deep and long the impact from the pandemic will last. This preliminary proposed budget emphasizes keeping reductions as far away from the classroom as possible.”

The LPS preliminary proposed budget totals about $460.4 million, an expenditure budget increase less than one-half percent. Currently, the preliminary budget proposal provides no increase in the overall property tax levy and a continued emphasis on student needs, including an increase in funding for Early Childhood Education and school counselors. The preliminary proposed budget minimized reductions to the Multicultural and Equity Office and Special Education Department.

Other highlights of the 2020-21 preliminary proposed budget include:

  • LPS experienced a significant drop in State Equalization Aid for a second year in a row - approximately $20.2 million reduction this year and $13.6 million last school year. 
  • LPS has seen continued growth in enrollment, with historic highs of 42,297 students in 2019-20 and a 15 percent increase over the last decade. It’s estimated that enrollment could increase by roughly 250 students in 2020-21.  
  • There is an $11 million reduction in the General Fund budget; the one-half percent increase is the result of negotiated staff agreements. 
  • The preliminary proposed budget does not eliminate programs nor does it propose a reduction in force. Position reductions proposed are through attrition.
  • Other reductions include cutting department budgets by three percent.  Overall reductions were made through decreasing contracted services, equipment and supply account lines and all out-of-state travel.
  • LPS is proposing to levy $1.05 in the General Fund levy with the expectation that the total district levy will stay flat.

Despite this year’s unique circumstances, LPS continues to rely on a solid process for budget development that includes multiple opportunities for community feedback. There will be two budget forums - one in person and one virtually - with a short presentation and time for community questions, comments and feedback.

  • In person forum: Wednesday, June 24, 5 p.m. in the LPS District Office boardroom (5905 O St.) This forum will also be streamed live for viewing on the LPS website and the LPS YouTube channel.
  • Virtual forum: Thursday, June 25, at 7 p.m., join the forum to provide feedback and ask questions using this link: https://lps.zoom.us/j/97448247692. This forum will also be streamed live on the LPS Facebook page.

Any community group that would like to schedule a presentation on the preliminary proposed budget should contact Liz Standish, associate superintendent for Business Affairs, at 402-436-1636 or by emailing lstandis@lps.org. More information about the LPS preliminary proposed budget can be found on the LPS website: lps.org/about/budget.

Published: June 23, 2020, Updated: June 25, 2020