Highlights of 7/28 Board of Education Regular Meeting and Budget Work Session

Board of Education Regular Meeting

The Lincoln Board of Education met for a regular meeting on Tuesday, July 28, at the Lincoln Public Schools District Office, 5905 O St.


2020 Pandemic Plan and Procedures

Members of the LPS Executive Team presented a summary of the school district’s Pandemic Plan and Procedures.

Superintendent Steve Joel announced during the presentation that based on the latest risk-dial information released by the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department on Friday, and after meeting with them and staff members, Lincoln Public Schools will move forward with implementing the 50 percent high school capacity part of the pandemic procedures. 

The 50 percent capacity plan includes two predetermined groups alternating between in-person instruction at school and Zoom-in instruction from home. Students with last names A-K will go to school on Monday and Tuesday. Students with last names L-Z will go to school on Thursday and Friday. Wednesdays will alternate between groups. Students will be expected to log-on via Zoom and attend class synchronously during the days they are not at school.

More information on the 50 percent capacity can be found on the LPS website, and schools will email specific schedules and information to families soon.

Joel added, “We feel comfortable that we have many safety measures that can be implemented as part of our Pandemic Plans and Procedures based on the recommendations from the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department and where we are in the risk-dial. Our goal has always been to mitigate risk knowing we cannot eliminate it and to ensure that all of our students have access to a high quality educational and co-curricular experience.  We have spent the entire summer working on this comprehensive plan and have stated, on every occasion, that it has to be flexible and adaptable to changing circumstances.”

Board members reacted to the presentation:

  • Barb Baier: “I’m supporting this plan because I do believe it has equitable access to education and equity is a huge issue in our community and country right now. A lot of our students come from homes where parents struggle to put food on the table, to keep a roof over their head...when we go and we close those school doors, we’re doing more than taking hot lunch away from those students, we’re taking away their best chance to overcome poverty.”

  • Annie Mumgaard: “One thing we know about creating a truly equitable institution is that it takes community input and it takes caring for your most vulnerable pretty much first. This plan does do that quite well, I believe.”

  • Bob Rauner: “I’m always frank and analytical about the numbers and I will be frank and analytical about this: I’m confident where LPS is with its planning process right now.” 

  • Lanny Boswell: “I know it’s been an incredible effort. It’s not a perfect plan - there is no such thing as a perfect plan. But I’m convinced that all of the people who have worked on this plan do so out of a desire to find the safest possible way to continue to learn.”

  • Katy Danek: “I”m going to add a thank you, just as Lanny did, to the incredible men and women who put this together and the hundreds and hundreds of people who will make it work because in Lincoln we have a can-do spirit. We can do anything as long as we do it together.”

First Reading

School attendance areas for newly annexed property

The Board assigns school attendance areas to property newly annexed to the City of Lincoln.   This action establishes school attendance areas prior to the sale of residential lots, allowing purchasers to know what schools their children will attend. The City of Lincoln has annexed two parcels of land, which automatically brings this property into the district of Lincoln Public Schools.

The schools assigned to recently annexed Highland View, Annexation Ordinance #20007, will be Kooser Elementary School, Schoo Middle School and North Star High School.

The schools assigned to recently annexed Dominion at Stevens Creek, Annexation Ordinance #20008, will be Meadow Lane Elementary School, Culler Middle School and East High School.

The Board will vote for final approval at the next Board meeting.

2020-21 Board of Education and Superintendent Annual Goals and Priorities

Every year, the Board evaluates and develops goals and priorities for the Superintendent. The Board approved Superintendent Joel’s evaluation at the May 26 meeting. On Tuesday, the Board presented the Superintendent’s goals and priorities for the 2020-21 year: 

  1. By August 2020, develop and implement a pandemic operational plan where students learn safely and effectively and is responsive to evolving circumstances.

  2. Strengthen equity, diversity, and inclusion within Lincoln Public Schools and provide an update to the Board by April 15, 2021.

The Board will vote for final approval at the next Board meeting.

Superintendent Update

Superintendent Joel took time at the end of the meeting to thank the LPS custodial staff “for all the work they’ve done this summer and for all the work they’ll be doing once school starts.” He also thanked Director of Nutrition Services Edith Zumwalt and her staff for the work they did this summer as part of the LPS food distribution program.

Public Comment

There were 25 citizens that addressed the Board during Public Comment. You can view the full video that includes public comment here:

Glimpses of LPS

We open every Board meeting with a video that highlights the amazing teaching and learning taking place in our schools. Tonight’s video featured the LPS meal distribution program, which started in March and concluded this week.


Budget Work Session

The Lincoln Board of Education held a budget work session on Tuesday prior to its regular meeting to discuss the preliminary proposed budget for 2020-21. 

Associate Superintendent for Business Affairs Liz Standish presented highlights of the preliminary proposed budget and answered questions from Board members.

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 the 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. 

  • 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 were two budget forums in June, one in person and one virtually. LPS officials also are giving presentations about the preliminary proposed budget to various community and district constituent groups. There also will be another public hearing/budget forum at 6 p.m. on Aug. 24.

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: July 28, 2020, Updated: July 28, 2020