This is my favorite time of year and I want to wish each of you a happy and joyous holiday with family and friends.
Each year at this time I look forward to a little slower pace and time with family (we are expecting our first grandson any day now) – and time to reflect upon the past year while also looking forward to 2013.
I feel blessed to serve in a high-performing school district with colleagues who view our work as a mission. I also feel incredibly fortunate to be living in a community that prioritizes education, steps up to help – time and again – and takes advantage of opportunities to help those in need. What a tremendous gift that is for our many students: those who have plenty, and those who are experiencing hardship.
Thank you for the great work of the first semester and I look forward to what lies ahead.
Last week I participated in a new program called, ConnectLPS, a live, online program where I answered questions from our community. I did not have time to answer all the questions received, so I am running those questions and answers in today’s blog. I asked for assistance from people at Lincoln Public Schools with expertise in the various subject areas. I thank everyone for their help.
Justin: What is the philosophy at LPS about “holding kids back” – or deciding they will continue to the next grade level? Are we setting up kids for failure?
“Holding kids back” is called retention by educators. Retention means that a student does not advance to the next grade level. This practice applies to kindergarten through 8th grade. In high school, a student’s grade is determined by the number of credits earned. Thus retention does not apply.
Lincoln Public School’s philosophy is that retention should only occur when the parent, teachers and administration believe and have evidence that retention is in the best interest and welfare of the student. Lincoln Public Schools’ Student Services provides guidelines to be considered for retention. These guidelines include the student’s age, attendance, academic performance, physical development, emotional development, and social development. Educational research for the last 25 years consistently has found that students who have been retained have increased odds to drop out of school. Lincoln Public School’s wants every student to graduate from high school. We do everything we can to prevent retention from being in the best interest and welfare of the student.
“Everything we can” means elementary schools providing Reading Recovery for first grade students who are struggling readers. Everything we can” means elementary schools continuously provide other short term and long-term interventions in math, reading, and writing. “Everything we can” means providing reading classes and fluid math intervention in middle schools. ”Everything we can” means identifying what special needs a student might have and providing Special Education services if warranted. “Everything we can” means providing, English Language Learner instruction to students who are learning English as a new language. ”Everything we can” means constantly improving our curriculum, our instruction and use of student learning data to meet the needs of every student. We do everything we can to prevent retention from being in the best interest and welfare of the student.
Julie: I am a parent and a teacher in Lincoln Public Schools. I have a concern for the growing number of students with behavior concerns and disorders in our schools…. As this becomes a bigger concern are there any programs that you are planning to implement to deal with this issue?
Each building has a behavior management plan in place that they use. As a school district we continue to improve how we work to provide behavior interventions, strategies and supports that work for all students. The special education and student services departments assist building principals and coordinators to address behavioral concerns as needed through building training, strengthening schools’ Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports, and by providing school district resources such as support team members and behavioral specialists to work with staff within buildings.
Manuel: Why is summer school routinely at North Star High School? Why isn’t it more centrally located?
Summer school was previously held at Lincoln High School, and was moved for one year because of construction. The new location, Lincoln North Star High School, showed many positives, including an increase of enrollment despite its northern location. Another positive is more parking. In addition, while all schools have some summer activities, the layout of North Star allows limited distractions to summer school students. Thus it’s been decided for now North Star offers the best opportunities for the most students.
I worry about the allotted time for children to eat lunch. What’s your opinion? Do all children have access to drinking water throughout the school day?
Time to eat lunch in schools varies from 15 to 35 minutes depending on whether the school is elementary, middle or high school. Some variance also occurs because of the number of students or size of the cafeteria. In elementary schools, a lunchtime recess is often added to the time allotted for lunch. This allows adequate time for students to eat.
Water fountains in hallways and cafeterias provide all students access to water. Some classrooms, often in elementary, also have water available in their classrooms. Some cafeterias sell bottled water to students.
Jeanette: Do we plan to have literacy support positions at all schools?
All of the elementary schools have Reading Recovery teachers who work as literacy support teachers with first grade students. In addition, some schools have additional literacy support teachers who work with students at other grade levels. The number of literacy support teachers was significantly reduced last year with budget cuts.
How are you paying for the new District Office building?
The new LPS District Office building at 5905 O St. is being built with funds from two sources: 1) the insurance settlement from the building destroyed by the fire; 2) payment for use of the land previously occupied by LPSDO. The LPS Board of Education voted to build a District Office structure that will be three floors – instead of one floor – making room to develop other uses for the property at 59and O streets.