(KFOR NEWS December 11, 2019) Great Schools for Great Kids, a private community organization supporting a bond issue for Lincoln’s public schools, today kicked off a campaign to encourage voters to approve the bond at a special election next year. The campaign announcement follows yesterday’s unanimous approval by the Lincoln Public School Board to place a $290 million bond issue before Lincoln voters in February. The group also released a new poll showing Lincoln voters favor the proposal by an overwhelming 78%.
Former LPS administrator, Dr. Marilyn Moore and Lincoln attorney Max Rodenburg, are leading the effort for community support and advocacy. Moore said Lincoln’s continued growth makes the need for school improvements necessary. “Our city’s thriving ecosystem of neighborhoods, businesses and recreation makes it one of the best places in the U.S. to live, work and raise a family. And one of the most important effects of our rapid community expansion is the unparalleled growth of Lincoln Public Schools,” Moore said.
“In the past five years alone, enrollment has increased by over 4,000 students. While LPS continues to dedicate all of the resources it can to prepare a growing number of students for college, careers and beyond, challenges have begun to mount,” she said.
Such challenges include:
LPS high schools are operating about 115% over ideal capacity, which is between 1,800 and 1,900 students. Five of Lincoln’s six high schools are serving over 2,000 students. Two over-capacity LPS high schools are currently serving over 2,300 students each. Capacity issues exist at the elementary and middle school levels throughout the city, as well.
Max Rodenburg outlined results of a poll, which was conducted between November 20-24 of 665 likely Lincoln voters. Margin of error is +/- 3.79%. “We are pleased to report that our great schools continue to have overwhelming support,” Rodenburg said. “According to the most recent polling results, Lincoln voters have a very positive view of LPS. 75% of respondents gave Lincoln’s schools either an A or B grade. Compare that to national polling in which just 44% of Americans give their local schools an A or B grade,” he said. “When asked if likely voters are willing to support the bond issue, 67% said yes, while only 14% said no,” he said. “What’s more, when asked if they would support a bond issue if it meant no new taxes, simply continuing with existing property tax rates, an overwhelming 78% answered yes with only 9% saying no,” Rodenburg reported.
Dr. Moore said voting for the bond issue will not raise the current tax rate, but it will green-light the following imperative measures:
New School Facilities:
Two new high schools with capacity to serve 1,000 students each – and the ability to expand to 2,000 students…
One new elementary school Additions to existing elementary schools…
Indoor Air Quality projects at Everett Elementary and Park Middle School…
Funding to support infrastructure for maintenance and upgrades of roofs, lighting, windows, HVAC, paving, restrooms, bleachers, playgrounds, caulking and sealing, etc….
Two new athletics and activities facilities at the new high school sites…
Upgrades to existing middle school specialized learning spaces such as art, science and career and technical education… Upgrades of existing high school specialized spaces and enhancements which that embed elements of the new high schools into existing schools…
The Early Childhood/Kindergarten addition at Arnold Elementary will have 12 classrooms, likely split 50/50 with half of the classrooms used for early childhood and half for kindergarten. The addition should serve up to 240 early childhood students and 120 kindergarten students.
“The improvements we are making today will have a profound impact on preparing kids for life beyond LPS, in addition to addressing current, present needs,” Moore said.
Moore and Rodenburg said Great Schools for Great Kids will be making presentations to organizations across the city. To learn more, visit: greatschoolslnk.org.
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