While we haven’t always agreed on all points, the Lincoln Independent Business Association (LIBA) does feel that over the years the LPS Board and the LIBA School Liaison committee have done a good job of communicating and cooperating in an effort to make the Lincoln Public Schools the best that Lincoln taxpayers can afford.
In 2006, LIBA asked the LPS Board to allow public comment at both the beginning and the end of board meetings and the Board responded.
In January of 2009 we spoke out against the Executive Committee contracts. In November of 2010, we were back to thank the LPS Board for creating new contracts that were more easily understood and transparent.
In 2009, LIBA asked that the LPS budget account for the difference between budgeted and actual personnel expenses since three of the four years previous to our comments this amount varied by over $3 million. LPS responded.
And while LIBA has had some success in encouraging change several suggestions have yet to be acted upon.
In 2013 LIBA asked the board not to levy $500,000 for the CLC program. LIBA had met with CLC leadership and they told the committee that the CLCs were completely funded for the 2013/2014 school year and the money wasn’t needed. LIBA’s understanding is that LPS did not spend the half-million dollar allocation. It would have been reasonable to offer a tax reduction.
LIBA would like to offer three observations about this budget:
First, there has been little or no public discussion of levy relief this year. LIBA is disappointed that tax relief could not come at a time when clearly the LPS budget is not “pinched”.
Second, LIBA applauds LPS for adding teachers. The classroom is the most important part of education
Third, during the 2004/2005 budget year LPS had 32,272 students1. The number of students anticipated for 2014/2015 is 38,8442 – a 20% increase in students over the last decade. During this same time period, per student cost has increased from $7,504 per pupil3 to $9,566 per pupil4 – a 27% increase.
Finally, LIBA would like to point out that General Fund Expenditures have increased 52% from $238,777,199 to $363,301,980 over the last decade.
The above seems to indicate that LPS should examine programs to determine if there is a more effective way to educate our students that could result in better outcomes & possibly lower costs.
LIBA has several questions that we hope the Board will consider for next year’s budget:
The first question is in regard to English as a Second Language (ESL). Instead of delivering ESL services in every school would it make sense to immerse students in an English intensive course for a summer, a semester or even a school year so they can become proficient in the language before joining the classroom? Have there been any studies to prove LPS’ current program is best for all kids? How does it affect the learning of the other students in the classroom? Is there a Federal law that would prevent this? What are other districts in the nation doing?
There are many questions surrounding Community Learning Centers. LIBA believes CLC’s are providing a valuable service to Lincoln. LIBA would suggest that thought be given to making the CLC program be a part of the LPS Foundation. That way people who want to support these programs would have an opportunity to do so with tax deductible contributions instead of just through their property taxes. As of now, there seems to be no way to directly contribute to the CLC program. LIBA understands that some grants for these programs must run through LPS but we were told in the past that they were then often processed through the Foundation. Why not let the Foundation take over the financial support of these programs? LIBA has previously requested more documentation on the CLC budget. We are still waiting to see an LPS quality budget for the CLCs.
In closing, LIBA has a final comment on taxes. The citizens of this wonderful community just voted to give LPS $153 million in new bonding authority. Now would be a great time to give back though property tax relief. At the very minimum, please use any additional funds that may arise from an increase in property valuations - beyond the 1.5% included in the budget – for tax relief.
Thank you again for engaging the community. LIBA appreciates our relationship with the district and with this Board and hopes you will give consideration to our questions and comments.
1 2004/2005 data as per 2004/2005 Actual as presented in 2008/2009 Annual Budget information. <a href="http://docushare cialis rezeptfrei legal.lps.org/docushare/dsweb/Get/Document-1749105/2008-09BudgetBkGeneralFund.pdf">http://docushare.lps.org/docushare/dsweb/Get/Document-1749105/2008-09BudgetBkGeneralFund.pdf
2 2014/2015 data as presented in 2014/2015 Proposed Annual Budget Information. http://docushare.lps.org/docushare/dsweb/Get/Document-1827985/1%20201415%20Proposed%20Budget%20Book%20begin%20section.pdf