As the summer has passed the halfway mark, everyone at Lincoln Public Schools has turned their attention to the beginning of a new school year. The brief lull our school district experiences in June allows us to recharge our batteries, spend some quality time with family and get in some valuable reading. But that lull is indeed brief, and after July Fourth we are suddenly well into the 2016-17 school year.
As I think about next year, I already can identify factoids that will continue to define our work, give us pause and make us thankful to live in such a progressive and supportive community.
- The enrollment surge we have been experiencing in the last five years will continue with an anticipated influx of another 900-plus students this fall. As we continue to analyze and understand this rapid growth, we have discovered there is no one cause: Companies are expanding and jobs have been added; the quality of life that Lincoln offers attracts people from all over the country and world – and they tend to stay here. This kind of growth benefits our schools and community, but also will certainly cause our Board of Education to discuss facility capacity sooner than later.
- After a successful inaugural year, The Career Academy is also poised to grow more than 100 students. The word is spreading: TCA’s career pathways are supported by business and industry partners who are offering meaningful internships and jobs. We anticipate there will be 1,000 students at TCA (currently around 425) in the next few years.
- The new Sally G. Wysong Elementary School and the Bill Nuernberger Education Center open in a few weeks and will be met with great excitement. The opportunity to be a part of establishing a new culture has attracted teachers and administrators to those two facilities from across the school district. I always love the energy that the newness represents, and am appreciative of the community support for providing the funds to make this happen. Next summer, the Marilyn Moore Middle School (with a YMCA) will open.
- Adding more than 300 new educators to our team has become the norm each year. These talented professionals come from colleges across the state and from school districts where they have honed their talents. Again, we are fortunate that staff desire to come to Lincoln and we are able to benefit from their commitment to remaining in the community.
The upcoming elections will certainly provide opportunities for education to be discussed in many forums. The November election might be more interesting than most but, at the end of the day, we know our parents and community support our work and will continue to help us improve. We believe our most important imperative is ensuring the success of each and every one of our nearly 41,000 students. We will not disappoint.