The beauty of fall – outside and inside our schools
What a great time of year this is. The cooler temperatures mean that leaves are beginning to descend and t-shirts make way for sweatshirts. I enjoy the changing seasons but, as I get older, I don’t enjoy the winter near as much.
The fall season is also a time when we receive achievement, assessment and growth data related to our school district that gives us a picture of the past, present and future. Our enrollment at Lincoln Public Schools this year grew 943 students and has caused us to wonder where all the growth has come from. Yesterday afternoon, several of us took a driving tour around the city to see where construction is occurring and what community growth issues we should consider when planning for the future. Having not been raised in Lincoln, I was struck with how far and wide Lincoln has moved its borders. The North 84th corridor is exploding with new homes, as has the southeast part of town where you can clearly see growth from Yankee Hill Road heading east from 70th. We were also impressed at the growth in the Fallbrook area in north Lincoln, and have seen that impact in enrollments at Kooser Elementary School and Schoo Middle School.
Our challenge going forward is to craft a plan that addresses this booming growth but also continues to take care of what we already have. Lincoln takes great pride in school facilities and we need to maintain that expectation.
In addition, the Superintendent’s Facilities Advisory Committee (a group of 90 community members who met over the past six months) has also reminded us of several other important school district needs: to make sure all our buildings are safe and secure, and to make sure that we have a technology infrastructure in place to support our bold plan to convert to digital learning.
The Lincoln Board of Education has been working overtime to take these issues and challenges – and convert them into a workable plan. Before we are able to ask for voter support to implement facility and infrastructure projects, we must first have a clearly defined direction. I anticipate that 2014 will bring opportunities for us to engage and discuss these plans with our incredibly supportive community.
I’ll close by saying that we continue to feel very positive about our academic directions and the accomplishments of our students. In a few weeks, 2012-13 graduation data will be released by the state. As we have set bold goals to achieve an 87 percent on-time graduation rate by 2018, we are hopeful of moving forward each year. Our continued academic improvement is due to the amazing work that is taking place in classrooms all over the city each and every day.