LINCOLN–(News Release June 25)–The Lincoln Board of Education held a work session on Tuesday, June 25, to preview the Preliminary Proposed LPS 2024-2025 Budget as presented by Associate Superintendent for Business Affairs Liz Standish.

Building the preliminary proposed budget begins each February when LPS staff review every budget line item and look at student enrollment and needs to match staffing levels for each school building. The budget process this year also focuses on aligning resources with priorities recently outlined in the 2024-2029 LPS Strategic Plan.

LPS is preliminarily proposing a 4.96% increase in the expenditure budget to $539,159,965. The majority of the expenditure increase – approximately $18.6 million of the almost $25.5 million – will go towards salary and benefit increases already approved through the staff negotiation process earlier in the year. Staff salaries and benefits make up almost 90% of the total budget. Each month, LPS pays approximately 6,500 employees a total of $30 million – money that pumps back into the Lincoln economy through the purchase of goods, services and property taxes.

“What happens during negotiations on salary and benefits with staff really drives our budget decisions,” said Standish. “That along with the priorities outlined in our strategic plan as identified with help from our community guided our conversations about where to direct our resources.”

Other highlights of the 2024-2025 preliminary proposed expenditure budget aligned with the strategic plan include:

Student Wellbeing and Outcomes

Raise the graduation rate by investing in the continued partnership with The Bay for the Bay High Focus Program, and adding a coordinator at a focus program.

Also addressing the graduation rate goal by replacing the federal funding that is ending for the Graduation Pathways program.

Meeting the early childhood goal by opening four additional preschool classrooms. The additional funding will be needed for staffing the new classrooms, providing transportation and meals for students, and providing summer preschool as required to be in compliance. To help with staffing during a shortage of teachers who meet required certification, LPS will implement a program to existing staff and help them become certified.

Staff Wellbeing and Outcomes

To assist in recruiting and retaining highly-qualified staff, salaries and benefits were negotiated with all staff groups to include increases ranging in 4.55%-10%.

The budget will pick up after the end of pandemic funding and continue to cover incentives for substitutes and class covers by staff.

The district will also re-invest more into extra standard assignment pay for those activities outside of the staff contract day.

Providing approximately $1.9 million to add instructional staff to address student needs.

Family and Community Engagement

A $3,000 increase in the supply budget to offset the cost of hosting Citizens Academy and monthly Learning Lunch Series.

District Systems and Operations

Required fixed cost increases of approximately $909,000 will address insurance premiums, transportation, maintenance, and unpaid student meal debt.

LPS prudently builds the annual budget using a three-year forecast to minimize the negative impact of drastic swings in revenue. By utilizing cash flow, LPS is able to weather volatile shifts in revenue caused by large reductions in State Equalization Aid a year after the school district may receive a bump in local property assessment values the previous year.

During the 2024-2025 budget process, the Board will consider an estimated total levy increase of 2.7 cents – or approximately $1.10 per 100 of valuation – to help offset the approximately $32 million decrease in state equalization aid to the district. The drop in state aid this year is calculated to equal a levy of nine cents. If approved, the average homeowner of a property valued at $281,614 would see a $75 increase in their property taxes.

Last year, the Board approved a 14 cent drop in the total levy to $1.07 per 100 of valuation. Two factors that led to the sizable drop were the valuation growth and the state of Nebraska’s investment in Special Education cost reimbursement from state sources instead of local sources.

LPS values community input, and continues to rely on a solid process for budget development that includes multiple opportunities for community feedback.

“The entire budget process is built on student needs, and LPS has a long-standing process of gathering community input on the preliminary proposed budget during the months of June and July to ensure we are doing that,” added Standish. “We truly value the questions and feedback we get to help us make adjustments before the finalized budget is submitted for Board approval in September.”

The community is invited to attend any of the following opportunities:

Tuesday, June 25

6:00p.m. – Online input form opens for the public to submit comments or questions. The form will close on July 12.

Wednesday, June 26

12 p.m. noon – Virtual public form (link can be found on website: lps.org/budget)

6:00 p.m. – In-person public forum at Steve Joel District Leadership Center, Boardroom

Thursday, June 27

6:00p.m. – Virtual public form (link can be found on website: lps.org/budget)

If the community cannot attend any of the June forums, the community is invited to submit their feedback and questions via the LPS website from June 26 – July 12. Go to lps.org/budget and click on the blue button. Answers to the questions will be posted on the LPS website budget page.

Schedule a presentation

Any community group that would like to schedule a presentation on the preliminary proposed budget should contact LPS Associate Superintendent for Business Affairs Liz Standish at 402-436-1636 or by emailing [email protected]. More information about the Preliminary Proposed LPS 2024-2025 Budget can be found on the LPS website: lps.org/budget.