Highlights of 11/10 Board of Education Regular Meeting

The Lincoln Board of Education met for a regular meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 10, at the Lincoln Public Schools District Office, 5905 O St. 

Staff Recognitions

The Board honored Lincoln East High School Principal Sue Cassata with a resolution. The Nebraska State Association of Secondary School Principals named Cassata its 2020-21 High School Principal of the Year. The award is presented annually to a principal who has demonstrated outstanding leadership in their school, region and at the state level. The award honors principals who demonstrated excellence in the areas of personal excellence, collaborative leadership, curriculum, instruction, assessment and personalization. Cassata has been principal at East since 2008 and prior to that was assistant principal at North Star High School for three years. Prior to working in administration, she taught social studies and was an educational coordinator at Southeast High School.

2020 LPS Pandemic Plan & Procedures Update

Superintendent Steve Joel gave the following update to the Board: 

The risk of COVID-19 spread in the city of Lincoln is at a severe level. Last Friday, the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department announced the COVID-19 risk dial moved to Red. This is very concerning for us at Lincoln Public Schools, and we continue to meet with the health department to collaborate on our next steps.  Pat Lopez, the health director for Lincoln and Lancaster County, shared her support for the LPS Plan and support for schools to stay in session, in-person, based on the strong protocols in the school setting.

While the number of positive cases of COVID-19 within LPS continues to mirror our community and climb, it is at a much slower rate than that in Lincoln-Lancaster County.  We and the health department believe this is because students and staff are following the proven safety measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19. In addition, we have worked collaboratively each week with the health department to adjust our protocols as the school year progresses.

Our plan is continuously adjusted to align with recommendations from LLCHD. Our goal is to continuously improve. Every day we learn more. Weekly we discuss protocols with the health department, and LPS is committed to making changes whenever necessary.

Through this fall the district has:

  • Required face coverings for preschool students;
  • Required face coverings during recess;
  • Installed plexiglass on lunch tables;
  • Increased sanitizing and disinfecting the areas where there is an identified positive case;
  • And over the last two weeks, we have moved programs or identified grade levels at certain buildings to remote as need necessitated. When this happens, our staff teach students remotely while there is a shortage of staff or a number of individuals needing to quarantine. This allows us to keep as many students in school as we possibly can.

LLCHD and LPS agree the best place for students is in school.  We have developed options for families to choose what works best for their families within the safety recommendations from the health department. At this time, we are offering the following:

  • LPS will continue offering in-person classes and services to students and families. We will reinforce our safety protocols and practices in schools with students and staff.
  • We re-opened the Remote Learning Request Form on the website while we are in Red. Families can choose - now or anytime - to move to 100% remote learning for their child. After filling out the form, the school will call to confirm your request. Please allow two school days for staff to prepare and get your child the materials they will need to begin remote learning. The school will communicate with you when remote learning will begin for your child. Families, we ask you to weigh this option carefully as continuously moving back and forth between in-person and remote learning creates a major disruption in your child’s learning experience.
  • LPS will work with LLCHD to monitor COVID-19 cases in school buildings and make decisions at the building level on any extra measures that need to be implemented. This could include moving a classroom or school to 100% remote for a period of time to address concerns. 
  • At this point, the decision to move classes or programs to remote learning has been based on staffing concern, not cases. The driving force has been staff quarantines, not necessarily positive cases.

We are committed to implementing proven protocols for the safety of our staff and students. Wearing face coverings is central to our plan and it has proven to work in the school setting. Layering the four pillars of the LPS plan together has been successful in significantly limiting the spread of COVID-19 in our schools. Self-screening, face coverings, hand hygiene, physical distancing - when we can where we can - are proven strategies. In addition, our schools are well ventilated thanks to Lincoln’s support and investment in facilities - yet another measure we can take in Lincoln Public Schools to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

We understand that anxiety is high. During a pandemic, changes can happen quickly without much notice, and this can be overwhelming. We will do our best to work through this together as a community to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and continue supporting our students and their families. 

First Reading

School choice filing deadline for East, Lincoln High and North Star 

Lincoln Public Schools eighth-graders will continue to have their choice of attending any of the LPS high schools as they enter ninth grade.

In 2020-21, enrollment continues to exceed building capacity at East High and Lincoln High with more than 2,300 each and nearly 2,300 at North Star.

For the second year, LPS staff recommends that high school selection applications for 2021-22 for incoming ninth-graders living outside of East High, Lincoln High and North Star attendance areas continue to be approved through the current process, with a filing deadline of Jan. 31, 2021. All forms submitted after that date will be denied. In addition, these three schools will be unavailable for transfers at all grade levels for students living outside the school attendance areas.

The Board will hold a second reading and vote at the next meeting.

Construction bids for new high schools

The Board held first reading for bids for a number of projects at the new high schools being built in northwest and southeast Lincoln, as well as one renovation project at Northeast High School. All of the projects are being paid for with funds from the 2020 Bond Fund, approved by voters in February.

The Board waived second reading and approved the following:

  • Northeast High School Art and FCS Renovation Project - Rogge General Contractors (Lincoln, Neb.) - $746,000.00

The Board will vote on the following projects at its next meeting:

  • New NW High School Segmented Block Retaining Walls Package - Linhart Construction, Inc. (Omaha, Neb.) - $100,556.00
  • New NW High School Geo-Foam/Pressure Reducing Wall Systems Package - Hausmann Construction, Inc. (Lincoln, Neb.) - $270,500.00
  • New NW & SE High Schools Fireproofing Package - True Fireproofing Company (Tulsa, Okla.) - $631,200.00
  • New NW High School Sidewalks Package - Concrete Works (Milford, Neb.) - $429,730.00
  • New NW High School Paving Sealants Package - Stutzman Sealants & Sons LLC (Lincoln, Neb.) - $78,750.00
  • New NW High School Fencing Package - Outback Fence Co. LLC (Lincoln, Neb.) - $7,956.00
  • New NW & SE High Schools Lockers Package - List Industries, Inc. (Deerfield Beach, Fla.) - $206,500.00
  • New NW & SE High Schools Joint Sealants Package - Stutzman Sealants & Sons LLC (Lincoln, Neb.) - $304,320.00
  • New NW & SE High Schools Millwork & Casework Package - Designer Woods, Inc. (Omaha, Neb.) - $717,681.00
  • New NW High School Traffic Signage & Curb Stops Package - Bestco Services (Waverly, Neb.) - $30,720.00

All of the approved bids were the lowest submitted. There was only bid submitted for the New NW High School Paving Sealants Package and the New NW High School Fencing Package.

Increase in Guaranteed Maximum Price for new high schools

In June 2019 the Board awarded Hausmann Construction, Inc., the contract to provide services as the Construction Manager Constructor (CMC) for the two new high schools being built in northwest and southeast Lincoln. As part of that, Haussman was required to submit a Guaranteed Maximum Price (GMP) for each of the projects: $61,704,215.00 for the northwest high school project and $63,423,475.00 for the southeast high school.

The Board held the first reading of the proposed GMPs on Tuesday night. The Board will vote on them at its next meeting.

Committee Reports

Governmental Relations and Community Engagement

Committee Chair Connie Duncan gave an update about future communications efforts that were presented during the committee meeting. The Facebook Live Board Preview livestream was temporarily suspended since March due to work during the pandemic. Board member Don Mayhew will begin a new version of the livestream with assistance from the LPS Communications team. Facebook Live Board Preview will provide in-depth opportunities for the community to learn about LPS efforts and the work of the school district and the Board.  

Wellness, American Civics, Multicultural Committee 

Committee Chair Annie Mumgaard commended the work LPS staff are doing in the area of wellness that is above and beyond the work already being done in the pandemic. She thanked the entire LPS Wellness team for its work, including Physical Education for its ability to adapt its lessons and Nutrition Services for continuing to offer nutritious meals to all children.

Public Comment

There were 3 citizens who addressed the Board during Public Comment. You can view the full video of the meeting that includes public comment here.

Glimpses of LPS

We open every Board meeting with a video that highlights the amazing things taking place in our schools. Tonight’s video featured Irving Middle School students who created documentaries about what it’s like going to school during a pandemic.

Published: November 10, 2020, Updated: November 10, 2020