In the past several weeks our work has continued in the school district.
We are hoping to settle the contracts for the Lincoln Public Schools District Office project in the next few weeks so that the developers can begin this exciting initiative at 5901 O st.
I also am looking forward to immersing myself in our strategic plan, though I know and recognize that we have a number of challenges facing us. One significant and immediate challenge is the sustainability of our Community Learning Centers. As we look at our achievement and graduation data, we are reminded of the importance of these centers as safe places for kids to study, connect and find recreational opportunities. In fact, we view CLC’s – now operating at 25 of our schools – as mission critical if we are to achieve our bold goals However, grant funds are expiring while the needs for our centers are increasing. We have been working with our CLC coordinators, city politicians, funders and community stakeholders to develop options for the future. We know that any plan will have to be original and include a different way of thinking about the programs. Stay tuned.
We are also beginning a discussion centered on additional ways to offer vocational/technical/career education. We now have five Focus Programs that offer exemplary educational opportunities – and I have I just learned that our Focus Programs are projecting record enrollments for next fall. However, we have several community requests for programs that focus on even more career pursuits. We believe we have the ability to connect a larger number of students to curriculum that will prepare them for the variety of excellent careers offered in our community – and we are exploring the possibilities.
Meanwhile, I have been perplexed by several new billboards located throughout Lincoln – advertising a profit service – that proclaim dropout rates of 30 percent. Let me make this clear: Those are likely national numbers. The dropout rate at Lincoln Public Schools for the class of 2011 was 8.8 percent, the lowest in the history of our school district. I am convinced that, in the next few years, we will lower that number even further as our school district continues to develop and implement ways to help ALL kids succeed.
Finally, believe it or not, the temperature reached 66 degrees today. A few of the folks I work with had to force themselves to come back from lunch. I did notice that a large number of vehicles in our parking lot had been freshly washed and waxed. This makes me nervous as a contrarian weather indicator – for what is to come.
I’ll hope for the best, as always.