A review of Omaha Public Schools Board of Education meetings. 
April 3, 2018

Following each Board of Education Meeting, the Office of District Communications recaps the board meeting in the Board Digest.
#OPSProud Spotlight - National Scholastic Art and Writing Awards
Four OPS students received honors in the 2018 National Scholastic Art and Writing Awards.

Benjamin Lane, a junior at Central High, won a Gold Key and National Silver Medal in the film and animation category. His piece is titled “The First Day of School."

Amanda DiMauro, an OPS Career Center student and North High senior, also won a Gold Key and National Silver Medal in the photography category. Her piece is titled “Leaf Love.”

Lucy Mason, an eighth-grader at Beveridge Magnet Middle School, won a Gold Key and National Gold Medal in the photography category. Her piece is called “Dancing Light.”

Lastly, Sean Monahan, a senior at Central High, won a Gold Key and National Gold Medal in the printmaking category for his piece called “Thin Ice.” Sean was also selected as one of five Nebraska nominees for the American Visions award. These are the highest regional awards presented by the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards. They are “Best in Show” awards. 
Above: "Leaf Love" by Amanda DiMauro (North High Magnet and Career Center)
Above: "Dancing Light" by Lucy Mason (Beveridge Magnet)

Below:"Thin Ice" by Sean Monahan (Central High School)
Board of Education Consent Agenda
Consent Agenda Items
Consent agenda items are items packaged into one agenda item. They are often routine and garner very little discussion. 

  • Staff Adjustments
  • Teacher Election to Continue Contracts of Probationary Certificated Employees
  • PeopleSoft Project Change Requests
  • District Annual Order Classroom/Special Education Supplies 2018-2019
  • Bid No. 18-018 Textbook Loan Program- Textbook Procurement For Students Attending Non-Public Schools
  • Bid No. 18-023 - 2014 Bond Program - Dodge Elementary School - Temporary Classrooms
  • Construction Management Agreement with Lund-Ross Constructors, Inc. - Early Learning Center at Kennedy Elementary Sshool
  • Change Order No. 002-2014 Bond Program - Capital Improvements - Oak Valley Elementary Sshool
  • To view the entire consent agenda, click here.
Board of Education Action Items
Below are the items the Board of Education discussed at last night's Board of Education Meeting. 
Legislative Update
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The Board of Education Legislative Committee gave a brief update on current bills and shared the current Comprehensive Legislative Position Statement Matrix. The committee continues to work on and monitor several bills in the legislature.

Last week, LB 548, which proposes changes to OSERS,was placed on general file. It will likely be discussed this week.

In addition, there are several bills that are anticipated to be discussed this week that could impact property taxes, income taxes and/or the TEEOSA formula (LB 947, LB 1103, LB 1084 and LB 640).

To review the most recent Comprehensive Legislative Position Statement Matrix, click here.
OPS Updates Science Standards
At last night's Board of Education meeting, members of the Curriculum and Instruction Support department shared information on the proposed new science standards for OPS.

The State of Nebraska Department of Education updates standards in the five core courses every seven years. Each district then has one year to update and align their specific standards with the state standards. The last update to OPS science standards took place in 2011.

The OPS Science Alignment Committee has been working throughout the 2018-19 school year to update the standards to align with the Nebraska College and Career Ready Science Standards. This committee is made up of teachers, administrators, community members, parents, members of higher education and informal science education partners.

The new standards move to a three-dimensional approach to science, which includes: science and engineering practices, disciplinary core ideas and crosscutting concepts. The standards maintain the current course sequence and includes early entry of high school courses for middle school students. The updated standards are grade level specific for grades kindergarten through 8th grade. The high school standards apply for grades 9-12 and are course specific.

The OPS Science team compared the new standards with the current science standards approved in 2011 and created a Comparison at a Glance. The comparison will assist in making revisions to curriculum documents: curriculum guides, course standards documents and units of study.

The Board approved the revised OPS science standards. To view the Nebraska Science Standards, click here.

To view the presentation , click here.
Board of Education Information Items
Strategic Plan Update
An update on the Strategic Plan was shared. The update included a brief history of the strategic plan. A status update of each principle was shared, highlighting the percentage of strategies that are on track, completed, ongoing and delayed/off track.

The update also included a scorecard that outlined the goals set in 2012-13 and the progress made on each:

Scorecard Findings indicated:
  • Gaps on a majority of legacy assessments did not increase.
  • Greater percentages of students took courses that offer industry certification, earned an industry certification and earned college credit while in high school.
  • Greater numbers of graduates took the ACT and graduate performance increased.
  • Fewer students are leaving the district.
  • More students are engaged in their learning.

Although progress is being made, the scorecard also identified opportunities that remained, which include:
  • Graduation rates remain high
  • They are still above the baseline but they slipped slightly
  • Student attendance
  • Math and science achievement slipped slightly; and
  • The percentage of students disciplined increased
  • This is mostly due to a new process (improvement in how we record alternative to suspensions data).

The 2014 strategic plan laid out guiding principles through 2018-19. The Board may begin to discuss the process of evaluating the current Strategic Plan and identifying goals for the next five years following the official arrival of the incoming superintendent.

To view the full presentation, click here.
Important Information for Staff and OPS Community
Budget Advisory Committee Update
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The Budget Advisory Committee held its third meeting on Thursday, March 22. The committee has been meeting to consistently understand how the district’s budget works—where our revenues come from, what our expenditures are and the current budget climate here in the state of Nebraska, which is impacting our district budget.

Budget cuts at the state level have impacted education funding across Nebraska. OPS anticipates approximately $13 million less in state funding this fall. OPS must close the unfunded liability amount in the pension fund, approximately $15.8 million. The amount could increase if the state passes legislation that would require a higher payment amount.

The Budget Advisory Committee has now started to have some of the difficult conversations that must happen in order to identify concrete budget cut recommendations to make to the Board of Education. The committee also reviewed feedback from principals. NO FINAL DECISIONS HAVE BEEN MADE.

District Leadership is dedicated to ensuring a thoughtful decision-making process as recommendations for cuts are made to the Budget Advisory Committee.

During the past fiscal year, District Leadership has closely monitored spending and assessed areas where planned purchases can be prolonged, including purchasing new textbooks, technology and property used to maintain school operations.

The committee’s next meeting will take place Thursday, April 5 at 6 p.m. More information/details will be shared after the committee meeting. 
Budget Cuts and the OPS General Fund
The budget cuts currently being addressed by the District, the Budget Advisory Committee and the Board of Education will address a shortfall of budget dollars in the OPS general fund, which is primarily made up of state dollars. The district receives some dollars from other sources to help fund the education of students. However, those dollars are restricted for specific purposes and are separate from general fund dollars. Some examples of those resources include federal dollars provided for services like special education, nutrition services and grant dollars provided for specific programs, purchases or projects.
~ Clarification Corner ~
Pension Obligation bonds v. the OPS Phase 2 Bond
Pension Bonds – How is the approximately $300 million lump sum debt-restructuring effort separate from the OPS Phase 2 Bond?
Pension obligation bonds can be used to help stabilize underfunded pensions for government organizations. Nebraska state legislators are currently discussing whether to approve a pension obligation bond for OPS. The issuance of pension obligation bonds would authorize OPS to borrow an up-front, lump sum dollar amount to cover a majority of the unfunded liability payment requirement in the district’s pension. The process is similar to refinancing debt in a home loan. The amount of the loan must still be paid. However, a refinance or restructuring of the debt could help limit the immediate and up-font burden on the homeowner. It is important to note that the estimated amount that would be issued, if approved, would not raise taxes. Currently, a majority vote in the legislature would authorize the district to move forward with the issuance of pension bonds.
 
Pension obligation bonds are completely separate from the maintenance and construction bonds. The Phase 2 bond is a maintenance and construction bond. If the bond passes, those dollars would be used to assist the district in maintaining facilities, alleviating capacity issues and reducing the number of portable classrooms currently being used at OPS schools. If the Phase 2 Bond fails, the district would need to use more of its general fund dollars to complete necessary repairs to keep schools fully operational. Coupled with already-existing budget cuts, a failed bond could cause more shortfall within the district’s general fund budget.
 
Next OPS Board of Education Meeting
The next regularly scheduled Board Meeting will take place on April 16. It is tentatively scheduled to start at 6:30 p.m.
 
Board of Education Agenda
To review previous Board of Education agendas, click here.

How Can I Watch a Previous Board of Education Meeting?
The video from the meeting will be available by the Wednesday at noon following the meeting. The video can be viewed by clicking here.
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Questions or feedback? Email us at: BoardDigest@ops.org