Highlights: 5/10 Lincoln Board of Education Regular Meeting

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

Special reports, presentations and celebrations of success

Foundation for Lincoln Public Schools

Wendy Van, President for the Foundation for Lincoln Public Schools, gave an update to the Board on 2021-2022 activities. Some of the highlights include:

  • $1.5 million distributed 
  • 3,316 gifts received
  • $1.2 million raised
  • $1.9 million pledged
  • 423 new donors
  • 82 scholarship recipients awarded
  • 14 outstanding educator award recipients 
  • 66 Fund-A-Needs complete: $74,217 raised for classrooms
  • 450 Requests for Funds: $825,231

Van shared this year’s Educator Awards that were given during National Teacher Appreciation Week. You can find the complete list here. She also reminded the Board that the Foundation will be participating in the Give to Lincoln Day on May 26.

First reading

Newly Annexed Property to the City of Lincoln

The Board of Education 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 proposal assigns the newly annexed area of Wandering Creek PUD to Pyrtle Elementary School, Lux Middle School, and East High School for the 2021-2022 school year. For the 2022-2023 school year it will move to Maxey Elementary School as part of the earlier approved attendance area boundary changes.

The Board will hold a second reading and vote on the proposal at its next Regular Board Meeting.

Student Calendar for the 2024-2025 School Year

Each year a joint Lincoln Public Schools and Lincoln Education Association committee, composed of a Board member, parents, teachers, and administrators, recommends a student calendar to the Board for consideration. The Board adopted calendar variables to guide the Calendar Committee’s work in meeting the goal of creating a school calendar that demonstrates the district’s commitment to learning.

The Calendar Committee began work in October 2021 to consider a student calendar for 2024-25. The committee met three times to build a student calendar for Board consideration. The committee began with a review of the previously approved 2019-2020 student calendar because of the similarity of dates with 2024-2025. Additional feedback was received from teachers who are members of the LEA faculty representatives, parents on the Community Curriculum Council, and students from the LPS Equity Cadre. The recommended student calendar aligns with the Board’s student calendar purpose and calendar variables.

The Board will hold second reading and vote on the proposal at its next Regular Board Meeting.

Policy 8420 and Policy 8441 - Board Operating Procedures

Lincoln Public Schools reviews policies on an ongoing basis and updates policies to ensure that they accurately reflect the ever-changing work of the district and changes in state law and federal law.

The passage of LB83 in 2021 required changes to the state’s elements of the Open Meetings Act impacting Public Comment. Policies 8420 and 8441 were reviewed to ensure compliance with the new law and to consider any other regular updates that occur when revising policies. The revisions to these policies represent bringing the policy in compliance with changes from LB83, reflecting recent Nebraska Attorney General’s opinions, and capturing other effective practices for engaging the community through Public Comment.

Governmental Relations and Community Engagement Committee Chair Don Mayhew reported that each year prior to the annual Board Reorganization Meeting, the Board reviews the policies that govern its operating procedures.

“In the last couple of years the Board has had to make a number of adjustments to its policies and procedures based on COVID and other factors, and it seemed prudent at this time of year as we revisit our policies and regulations to look for opportunities to improve our processes,” said Mayhew. “Our Board meetings are business meetings and it is our responsibility to facilitate the business of the district. None of the proposed changes are huge, but they do tighten things up a bit and hopefully provide clearer language.”

Associate Superintendent for Governmental Relations and General Administration John Neal added, “It is incredibly important to bring the voice of the community to the Board and provide a method for doing that that not only ensures all voices are heard, but also ensures the business of the board is accomplished.” 

Some of the policy and regulation updates provide more clear information for the public on how to participate in Public Comment. Some of the proposed changes include:

  • Each speaker will be allowed three minutes to address the Board. Reducing from five minutes to three minutes allows more speakers to be heard prior to the business of the meeting being conducted.
  • A written step-by-step process is now included on how someone can participate in public comment. 
  • Incorporating State Senator Mike Flood’s Bill (LB83) that was passed last August addressed Open Meetings Act and Public Comment, the Board Chair will call each speaker to the podium by first and last name, organization they represent, and address. 
  • Information is now also included on what happens when a person is declared out of order by the Board Chair. This is not a change in practice, it just adds in writing for the public so they may understand practices.

Several Board members reminded the public that their contact information remains published on the LPS website if any person wishes to contact a Board member with their concerns or questions. 

The Board will hold a second reading and vote on the proposal at its annual Reorganization Meeting.

Proposed Contracts with the Associate Superintendents and ESU Administrator

Annually, the Board of Education reviews the contracts of the Associate Superintendent for Instruction, the Associate Superintendent for Business Affairs, the Associate Superintendent for Human Resources, the Associate Superintendent for General Administration and Governmental Relations and the ESU 18 Administrator.

It is recommended that the proposed three-year contract for each of the associate superintendents be amended and extended to June 30, 2024. It is also recommended that a total salary increase of 3.50 percent, overall total package increase of 3.81 percent, be approved for 2022-23. The 2023-24 total salary increase recommendation is 3.00 percent, and overall total package increase of 3.20 percent. Each contract is within the parameters set by the Board of Education.

It is also recommended that the proposed 260 working days two-year contract for the Director of Continuous Improvement and Professional Learning and ESU 18 administrator be amended and extended for the 2022-23 school year with a salary increase of 4.82 percent, overall total package increase of 5.30 percent for 2022-23. The 2023-24 total salary increase recommendation is 4.60 percent, an overall total package increase of 4.78 percent. The contract is within the parameters set by the Board of Education.

Included in the total package increase for each of the four associate superintendents and the ESU 18 administrator are additional district costs including the district’s contributions to health insurance, state retirement, and Social Security.

The Board waived the second reading and voted to approve the proposal.

Second reading

Evaluation of the Superintendent

Annually, the Board of Education evaluates the superintendent of schools. The 2021-22  evaluation of Superintendent Steve Joel was reviewed during first reading at the last Board meeting and is recommended for approval to be placed in his personnel file.

Joel received many positive comments on his final evaluation. As one board member stated:

“Dr. Joel is completing his final year of a distinguished career having earned the highest respect and deepest gratitude of the Board and the community.”

Board members unanimously responded with high praise of the comprehensive plan to address the Board priority to address specific measurables to assess disparities in student learning outcomes, students’ school experience, and the composition of certified personnel. 

Duncan added, “We are honored to congratulate Dr. Joel, a champion of public education, on a lifetime of service to students and educators. Thank you for sharing your life with LPS. We are a better place thanks to your leadership.”

The Board voted to approve the superintendent’s evaluation.

Newly annexed property to the City of Lincoln

The Board of Education 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 proposal assigns the newly annexed area of Grandview Estates 2nd Addition to  Wysong Elementary School, Moore Middle School, East High School.  In 2023-2024, the area will be assigned to the new Standing Bear High School. 

The Board voted to approve the assignments.

Policy 5520- Student Fees

The Board 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 district’s general policy is to provide for the free instruction in school in accordance with the Nebraska Constitution and state and federal law. This generally means that the school district’s policy is to provide free instruction for courses that are required by state law or regulation and to provide the staff, facility, equipment, and materials necessary for such instruction without charge or fee to the students.

The school district does provide activities, programs, and services to children that extend beyond the minimum level of constitutionally required free instruction. Students and their parents have historically contributed to the district’s efforts to provide such activities, programs, and services. The district’s general policy is to continue to encourage and to the extent permitted by law, to require such student and parent contributions to enhance the educational program provided by the district.

The Board voted to approve Policy 5520.

Pulled from consent agenda

Contract for Nebraska Business at Standing Bear High School

Student Learning Committee Chair Lanny Boswell asked Association Superintendent for Instruction Matt Larson, and Director of Strategic Initiatives and Focus Programs James Blake gave an update on an agreement for the newest focus program.

Lincoln Public Schools and the College of Business at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln are joining together to launch Nebraska Business at Standing Bear High School. Through hands-on immersive experiences and early college pathways, the focus program will allow Standing Bear High School students to explore their passions and career opportunities in the areas of marketing, management, accounting, finance, supply chain and economics.

Pathways are designed for students who wish to pursue a two- or four-year college degree, as well as for students who plan to enter the workforce after graduating from high school. They will do so while connecting with peers, teachers and business professionals from the community. 

Students in grades 9 and 10 at Standing Bear High School will have coursework integrated into other core classes they take. Students in grades 11 and 12 may opt to take classes for college credit through the focus program and will receive reduced tuition. Non-credit experiences will be available to students free-of-charge. 

Standing Bear High School will open in the fall of 2023, and with it the new Nebraska Business focus program. As the new high school continues to be built, curriculum planning will take shape this next year collaboratively with LPS teachers and College of Business faculty. 

The Board voted to approve the item.

Informational items and reports

The Career Academy

Boswell reported that the joint Southeast Community College and Lincoln Board of Education met to discuss renewing the joint agreement. The joint board approved the revisions and the agreement will come before the Lincoln Board of Education at a future meeting.

Public comment

There were five individuals that addressed the Board during public comment. You can watch the public 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 school district. Tuesday’s video featured some of the educators honored with Educator Awards from the Foundation for Lincoln Public Schools.

Published: May 10, 2022, Updated: May 10, 2022