Highlights of 5/25 Board of Education Regular Meeting

The Lincoln Board of Education met for a regular meeting on Tuesday, May 25, at the Lincoln Public Schools District Office, 5905 O St. 

Special Reports, Presentations, and Celebrations of Success

Student Celebration

Lincoln East senior Mimi Yu was recently selected as Nebraska's first youth poet laureate. Yu read some of her award-winning poetry, and Lincoln East teacher Tina Le talked about the significance of and process behind the honor.

Staff Celebration

The Board recognized Lincoln High School Debate Coach Victoria Freeman with a formal resolution during the meeting. The National Speech & Debate Association recently honored Freeman with its James M. Copeland High School Coach of the Year Award.

First Reading

Naming of new high school in south Lincoln

A committee of 10 community members (Becky Dunder, Halley Kruse, Richard Meginnis, Amanda Morales, Cindy Ryman Yost, Alynn Sampson, Kamryn Sannicks, Deb Schorr, Felecia Welke and Ed Zimmer) and three Board members (Bob Rauner, Lanny Boswell and Don Mayhew) solicited and reviewed suggestions for names of the new high school to be built in south Lincoln near 70th Street and Saltillo Road. Over 200 names were suggested by more than 600 individuals. The committee met over the course of several weeks to discuss the submissions and make a recommendation to the Board.

The committee unanimously recommended that the new school be named Standing Bear High School. Standing Bear (1829-1908) was a chief of the Ponca Tribe when the tribe was forcibly removed from its homeland in Nebraska. When Standing Bear returned to Nebraska to bury his son, he was arrested and held for trial. Standing Bear prevailed and was declared a "person" according to law. He and his followers were free to return to their homeland. However, they had no home to return to, as all of the tribe’s land had been taken from them.

Larry Wright, chairman of the Ponca Tribe of Nebraska and a former LPS teacher, addressed the Board and spoke of the significance of this decision. 

“This was a real opportunity, if this name was chosen, to lead the country and show that this can be done in a good way that’s representative and respectful of indigenous people,” Wright said.

Steve Laravie Jr., a great-great-great-great-grandson of Standing Bear, also spoke to the Board before performing a prayer song.

“This consideration of his name for an environment where young people can learn and grow to be great leaders for their own communities, for their own families, for this good land - for all of us - I thank you on behalf of my family,” he said.

The Board will vote on the name recommendation at its next meeting.

U.S. Department of Justice School Violence Prevention Grant Program

The Board discussed the LPS submission of the School Violence Prevention Grant application. This program is through the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, which is part of the U.S. Department of Justice. It’s designed to provide funding to improve security at schools and on school grounds through the following strategies: coordination with local law enforcement; training for local law enforcement officers to prevent student violence against others and themselves; placement and use of deterrent equipment; and acquisition and installation of technology for expedited notification of local law enforcement during an emergency.

LPS utilizes many procedures and systems to ensure the safety of students and staff, including the use of two-way radios for communication within schools. However, replacing this equipment in elementary and middle schools is not currently within budgetary options. The recommended life of these devices is 10-12 years; current projections for their replacement is 20 years.

Also, current equipment used in LPS schools use an analog signal, while a digital signal is much stronger and offers greater communication options and flexibility for staff. This grant provides an opportunity to replace current analog, two-way radios in elementary and middle schools with digital devices over the next three years. A plan is already in place to replace all high school radios.

This $500,000 grant is for 36 months. There is a 25% match requirement, which will be provided through existing district security staff time as in-kind contribution.

The Board will vote on the grant application at its next meeting. The grant application is due June 22, 2021.

McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grant

The McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act is the primary piece of federal legislation dealing with the education of homeless children. This program addresses the problems that homeless children face in enrolling, attending and succeeding in school. Under this program, state and local educational agencies ensure that homeless children have equal access to the same free, appropriate public education - including a public preschool education - as other children. States and school districts are required to review and undertake steps to revise laws, regulations, practices or policies that may act as a barrier to the enrollment, attendance or success in school.

The LPS homeless outreach coordinator position works with families experiencing homelessness to arrange transportation services for children to attend school. They also work with families to provide other supports that create a more stable environment for children experiencing homelessness. LPS will use funds received through the McKinney-Vento Act to continue to support the salary of the homeless outreach coordinator and to pay transportation costs for homeless children to attend school.  

The Board discussed the submission of the McKinney-Vento Grant application for approximately $53,000, with the final allocation to be determined by the State of Nebraska after submission and dependent upon grants awarded to other applicants. This grant requires a 100 percent match from Title I allocated to LPS. Title I funds have been used in past years to cover the required match.

The Board will vote on the grant application at its next meeting. The application is due June 16, 2021.

New northwest & southeast activities complexes construction project

The Board held first reading for bids on activities complexes for the new northwest and southeast high schools, which are being paid for with funds from the 2020 Bond Fund, approved by voters in February 2020. There were three bids:

  • Cheever Construction Co. (Lincoln) - $15,419,000
  • Hausmann Construction, Inc. (Lincoln) - $15,569,000
  • Sampson Construction Co., Inc. (Lincoln) - $15,714,000

The project was awarded to Cheever. There were two changes made to the project, which resulted in the final price being $15,342,000.

The Board waived second reading and approved the bid.

Second Reading

Naming of new high school in northwest Lincoln

A committee of 12 community members (Randy Bretz, Rich Claussen, John Goodwin, John Harris, Randy Hawthorne, Dayna Krannawitter, Marian Price, Willie Shafer, Tammy Ward, George Weaver, Larry Wright and John Yoakum) and three Board members (Don Mayhew, Barbara Baier and Annie Mumgaard) solicited and reviewed suggestions for names of the new high school to be built in northwest Lincoln at NW 48th and West Holdrege streets. More than 200 names were suggested by more than 900 individuals. The committee met over the course of several weeks to discuss the submissions, gather input from students through surveys, and make a recommendation to the Board.

The committee unanimously recommended that the new school be named Lincoln Northwest High School. The Board voted to approve the recommended name.

Student Fees

The Lincoln Board of Education annually reviews and approves Policy 5520 to ensure that its policy is in accordance with the Public Elementary and Secondary Student Fees Authorization Act. The Board held the required public hearing at the prior board meeting and voted to approve the policy.

Public Comment

18 citizens addressed the Board during the public comment period. You can view their comments in the full meeting video here.

Glimpses of LPS

We open every Board meeting with a video that highlights the amazing things taking place in our schools. Tuesday’s video featured student speakers from graduation ceremonies for Yankee Hill Education Center and Bryan Community Focus Program. 

LPS LIVE Board Update

On LPS LIVE Board Update, Board Member Don Mayhew sits down with Director of Student Services Russ Uhing to discuss LPS summer school offerings, which begin on Wednesday.

Published: May 25, 2021, Updated: May 25, 2021