This has sure seemed like a full week and it is only Wednesday. We are definitely back into the swing of things and it is great to have Dr. Marilyn Moore back from her trip to China full of stories and tales of wonderful experiences.
Monday night was our first budget work session and it went well. I am feeling very comfortable with our ability to have a budget that can help us meet goals but also be responsive to the financial climate in Lincoln. Kudos to our great team of business professionals here at LPS who managed to get budget documents together in lieu of our fire.
I am also very proud of the members of our Lincoln Board of Education who managed to also fight through the effects of the fire and maintain their commitment to developing a sound strategic plan. Last night, they were able to develop four purpose statements that, while fairly general in nature, will guide our development of action plans as we seek to meet our stated purposes in developing a strategic plan for the school district. Mrs. Kathy Danek has appointed a committee that will take the recommendations of the Strategic Planning Committee and determine how to fit them into our purpose statements. From that, the board will appoint action-writing teams that will identify time-lines, indicators and initiatives to fill out the plan. We are still hopeful to have a tentative plan by the time we begin gathering for the beginning of the new school year.
Many, many thanks to members of the Strategic Planning Committee and to Dr. Larry Dlugosh for presenting such a great document to organize our vision and focus for the next several year.s
Below are listed the four purpose statements that were developed by the board:
A. Foster the highest level of learning for all students. (Improve upon quality of educational experience for all students, as measured by increased student achievement, closing achievement gap and increased graduation rate.)
B. Engage in continuous, two-way communication with our whole community, internal and external. (Develop strategies to actively engage community and partnerships that lead to greater support and understanding of a high quality LPS education.)
C. Make effective and efficient use of community’s time, treasure and talent.
D. Provide a safe, comfortable and secure learning and working environment for students and staff.
I think this is the week that the work becomes a bit more normal for many of us. The Celerion building is feeling like home and we have developed our traffic strategies to get from our office – to all the places where we need to be. For me, the biggest traffic challenge has been Highway 2 (especially near 27th street) around 7:30AM. Ugh…I hate having to wait through multiple light changes.
This week we will be working on the 2011-12 budget, which will be challenging in lieu of our state aid reduction. While we are still optimistic going into next year, we are very uncertain about the following year. I have asked all school district leaders to seek ways to trim our personnel costs when vacancies occur (approximately 86% of the general fund budget goes to personnel). Our ability to manage some of this now will lessen the need later. Our first opportunity to publicly discuss the budget is tonight at a special school board work session (5 p.m. at the headquarters for the Nebraska Association of School Boards, 1311 Stockwell St.at 5 p.m.).
Tomorrow night, the board of education will discuss the strategic planning report and begin the process of seeking ways to create priorities for us going forward. I anticipate the formation of action-writing teams once those priorities have been established. We need this to come together fairly quickly, however, we have been dealing with a few distractions.
June is almost a distant memory and July will be a time for vacations. I certainly hope that the LPSDO folks who put their lives on hold this month can find time to get away for some relaxation.
Several of us have made the move to the Celerion building. Our new digs are comfortable and definitely convenient. I have enjoyed being able to have quick access to my colleagues who are just a few offices away. Of course, I don’t get to burn all the calories I used to when I jogged to meetings at the old building.
Tuesday night we held our first full board meeting at the City Council Chambers. We loved the modern technology and spacious meeting environment. The meeting lasted 30 minutes as our agenda was scheduled to be light – because I had planned on being in China. I anticipate the next few meetings to have more conversations as we begin to tackle the budget, strategic planning and, of course, LPSDO recovery.
We have talked about scheduling informal gatherings in the next few months to provide people with opportunities to tell their fire stories. I know that some great tales of bravery, honor, commitment and humor have emerged as a result of us being drawn together through tragedy. I look forward to hearing those.
We have also begun thinking about lessons learned through the tragedy. We have had several community and state requests to provide guidance on our preparation for catastrophe and what we wished we would have considered. Of course, we all know that hindsight is 20-20.
Next Monday, Mr. Shepard and his team will guide the first budget work session. We have to remember that this is a very difficult financial year for us in lieu of pending state aid cuts and will require that we continue to seek greater efficiencies to prepare for what could be an even tougher 2012-13.
On Tuesday, the board will visit the Strategic Planning recommendations and develop a framework to pursue prioritization. It is important that we keep moving forward.
The summer already feels as if it is flying by. I love the energy that I witness each day by everyone on our team. It is a genuine pleasure to be part of a group that embraces challenges with such positivity.
We are working into the second week following the tragic event. The pieces are beginning to come together nicely. Today, Union Bank graciously provided lunch to more than 100 of our team members at the Experian building. We gave a few tours and enjoyed the tremendous hospitality. Thanks to Chris Warner for the welcome banner that stated “IN A CRUNCH, YOU GAVE US LUNCH.”
The Celerion building will be our next move-in project and that will take place early next week. Celerion is allowing us to bring a limited number of offices on a temporary basis until we take possession on July 10th. Their flexibility will allow us to get closer to full throttle.
Our negotiations will soon commence with the insurance company as we attempt to value our losses. Once that is completed, we will begin planning for a permanent location.
We have been incredibly supported by the community. We have received many offers to help and are working with the Foundation on how to facilitate that. Last night, on a quick trip to Hyvee to pick up a few things for supper, I had several encounters with people who were quite proud of our response and work to repair our district. Two were from teachers who expressed their pride in being a part of LPS and one was from a patron who felt that our district truly stood out. I waltzed home.
It was great to be back at work today. I was able to make a visit to East High School and observe the work being done there—all with smiles. There are employees from across the district who have set up temporary headquarters there. I also ventured to the Experian building in advance of our 10AM press conference tomorrow to celebrate the partnership with the city. We have about 100 people getting ready to make the move tomorrow. Please join us if your schedule permits.
I also had the pleasure to visit the UNL Data Center in Nebraska Hall where our Information Technology team has been working day and night to bring our technology back to life. Each of them has been consumed with the work, putting in over 90 hours since the fire. They are truly unsung heroes that many of us (including me) have never met.
We also hope to be able to announce the second location tomorrow but that will depend on progress on the lease. If this deal comes together, we will have a location in the southern part of the city that will house most of our executive team.
The devastating event is barely a week old. Our recovery efforts are charging ahead and each day we become a little stronger.
Keep the faith,
Whew—we made it to Friday and things certainly look better today than they did earlier in the week. The City has really come through with the Experian building and we are planning to move in on Tuesday of next week. There is a press conference at 10AM that you are invited to attend if you want to see where more than 100 of our team members will be setting up new digs.
Under the tremendous leadership of Kirk Langer, we believe that our e-mails, telephones and calendars will be functional next week. We will soon be creating new paperwork….yeah…!
We also feel like we are very close to a second site that we will be able to announce early next week.
This sure has been a challenging week. I am so proud of our LPSDO team members who have worked round-the-clock to make things happen, and our community that has offered so much support for our district in so many ways. A few times this week, I was asked how we are able to get so much done in a short period of time. After a little thought, I stated that we had many people who “didn’t go to bed—they went to work.”
I wish everyone a relaxing weekend,
Greetings—We are now in the third day of recovery from the devastation of the fire at the LPS District Office building. We are doing very well as plans are coming together to obtain alternative locations so that our employees can get back to work. I am so impressed with the positive attitudes and personal grit and determination that is being displayed by all. We WILL come back stronger than we were.
It looks like the Experian building will be one of our locations but it won’t be enough space for all our needs. We are negotiating with a couple private companies for similar space and that might take longer. I want to thank Mayor Beutler for reaching out Tuesday morning with the offer of Experian and anything else we need to get our “guts” put back together.
We are hopeful that our telephone and e-mail system will be functional by early next week. Our Information Technology folks have been working round-the-clock to make this happen. I can only imagine how complex those problems are.
There is much more work to do that will include sweat and tears but we will get there. If you have ideas or questions please feel free to use this blog.
Thanks for all your positive thoughts,